Louisiana Second Circuit Defines the Duty of Hospitals in Medical Malpractice Cases

The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the standard of care to be used in medical malpractice cases involving hospitals and their employees. In Crockham v. Thompson, the Second Circuit ruled that hospitals should be held to a national standard of care in actions for medical malpractice. The Second Circuit also found that hospitals are legally responsible for their employees’ negligence, including the negligence of doctors and nurses who are employees of the hospital.

In Louisiana, the Medical Malpractice Act governs patients’ claims for medical malpractice against private health care providers and their facilities. Under this law, a victim’s recovery from a “qualified healthcare provider,” a provider who pays into Louisiana’s Patient Compensation Fund, is capped at $500,000. If a healthcare provider does not contribute to this fund, then the provider does not receive the protection of this cap.

In medical malpractice litigation, a plaintiff bears the burden of proving her case in court. Specifically, a plaintiff must prove that her healthcare provider breached a standard of care. The plaintiff must further prove that this breach caused the injury in question. The standard of care analysis typically asks whether a medical provider exercised the level of skill and knowledge that is comparable to that exercised by members of the profession under similar conditions and circumstances.

In determining whether a practitioner breached the standard of care, courts often look to the locality of the practice. For example, rural doctors may not have the same access to equipment, technology and personnel as urban doctors and thus may be held to a more lenient standard of care. With the Second Circuit’s ruling, doctors and nurses who are employees of hospitals will be held to a more generalized, national standard of care. In some circumstances, particularly in rural hospitals, this standard of care could be more stringent than the practitioner’s local standards.

When medical malpractice occurs in a hospital setting, several actors may be legally responsible for your injury. If you believe that you were a victim of medical malpractice, our lawyers at Broussard, David & Moroux can help you understand your legal rights and obtain fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call Broussard, David & Moroux at 888-337-2323 (toll-free) or 337-233-2323 (local).

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