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Louisiana Medical Malpractice Rates Are 3rd Highest in U.S.

Tony Tramontana

Louisiana has the 3rd highest number of medical malpractice lawsuits per capita in the United States: 3.4 reports per 1,000 people, according to new data analyzed by the U.S. Government's National Practitioner Data Bank.

How Much Money Do You Get for Medical Malpractice?

With a population of 4.6 million, there were 15,716 medical malpractice actions taken in Louisiana between 2004 and 2014. That's an average medical malpractice action rate of 3.4 per 1,000 people (.34%) - the 3rd highest in the U.S.  It's lower than Oklahoma (.41%) and Vermont (.39%), but still almost double the national average of .19%.

We define Action Taken as Medical Malpractice Payment + Adverse Action + Reinstatement Restore.

Medical Malpractice Safeguards

There are safeguards in place to help practitioners avoid fraudulent claims:

  • The review board now charges a fee to review claims and to help weed out fraudulent cases
  • And even if a doctor is found guilty of malpractice, his or her license isn’t necessary suspended or revoked.

In 2013, three Louisiana physicians lost their licenses due to claims filed by patients. That same year, 1,706 complaints were filed, and according to the review panel, only a quarter of them required action. Of these cases, 60 percent were determined in favor of the physician.

In other words, while the patient compensation fund is quite large, the annual claim payouts are not. In fact, the average payout for most Louisiana medical malpractice cases is $368,841.

And we already know the dire straights of Louisiana's Nursing Homes.

$500,000 Medical Malpractice Cap in Louisiana

However, Medical malpractice caps in Louisiana have not deterred patients from seeking compensation from providers. About 1,600 Louisiana patients per year ask a medical review panel to examine complaints.

Many complaints settle before the panel has a chance to review them, often when a claim is legitimate enough to avoid going to trial. The panel’s responsibility to patients and providers is to determine if there was a breach in standard care, and to award compensation from Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF), a fund of more than $930 million.

Medical Malpractice Case: Chela Butler

Back in 2009, malpractice made headlines in Louisiana when an 8-year-old girl from Orleans Parish named Chela Butler died from complications of H1N1 influenza. Plaintiffs argued that the pediatrician team misdiagnosed the child and failed to provide the antiviral medication during a pandemic. Aside from the devastating loss to the family, what’s most striking about the case was the payout for the Butler family.

A jury awarded Butler’s family $8 million after the trial; however, Louisiana’s medical malpractice laws cap these awards at $500,000, unless future medical requirements are necessary, in which case more funds are awarded in perpetuity. In this case, when it was all said and done, the family had little to show for its efforts.

What to Consider when Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Choosing an experienced malpractice lawyer can make all the difference when it comes time to send a claim to the review panel, or in the event that you feel your case should go to trial. If you have questions about medical malpractice or a personal injury claim, we want to hear from you.

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