Louisiana’s Medical Malpractice Insurance Caps get Struck Down

Side note: Medical malpractice insurance reform is dealt a blow when med-mal insurance caps in Louisiana are declared unconstitutional. Unfortunately the malpractice case in question is so tragic that the verdict sounds reasonable. This case serves as a reminder why the medical community must help police itself to weed out the negligent, and unqualified, medical professionals who are responsible for the lion’s share of malpractice suits. The case involves a small child whose cancer was misdiagnosed by a Louisiana clinic causing permanent disfigurement and blindness. The nurse practitioner was running the clinic even though she had no formal education past high school. According to Louisiana law a nurse practitioner must have at least a BS and a Masters degree in medicine but a grandfather clause loophole allowed the unqualified nurse practitioner to diagnosis illness, and prescribe medications, with only a high school diploma. Had the child’s cancer been properly diagnosed she could have been treated and lived a completely normal life; instead she is now permanently disabled.

Court House News

Louisiana’s limit on medical malpractice awards is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled. Joe and Helena Oliver sought relief from the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, which shrank the damage award they received from $6.2 million to $500,000. The Olivers’ daughter, Taylor, developed severe injuries after she was treated by a nurse who was practicing with only a high school degree.

Susan Duhon, a registered nurse practitioner and sole owner of the Magnolia Clinic, treated Taylor for vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Taylor visited the clinic 32 times in the first year of her life, and Duhon prescribed more than 30 medications to her. Duhon had a statutory duty to consult a physician, but Taylor never saw a doctor during any of her visits. When Taylor was 14 months old, another hospital diagnosed her with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. One of the signs is severe bruising around the eyes, which Taylor had presented with at the Magnolia Clinic when she was 6 months old.

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