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Medical malpractice needs both negligence and resulting damages

The implantation of medical devices even by experienced physicians can sometimes result in disastrous results if all proper protocol are not followed. Furthermore, the failure to diagnose a related heart condition may be evidence of medical malpractice, both in Louisiana and throughout the country. It is always necessary, in any event, for the alleged negligence to be the legal cause of the patient's ensuing complaints.

In one recent case in another jurisdiction, a former patient has sued the cardiac surgeon who implanted a pacemaker while allegedly failing to find a large pericardial effusion. The doctor has filed an answer denying the allegations and demanding a jury trial. The suit states that the cardiac specialist discharged the patient the day after installing the pacemaker, despite continuing complaints of chest pain and pressure by the patient.

The complaint alleges that the doctor did not properly diagnose and treat the results of an echocardiogram that revealed a pericardial effusion on the right side of the heart. It is alleged that the doctor dismissed the seriousness of the diagnostic report and told the patient that his complaints of chest pain and pressure were normal results of the pacemaker surgery. The patient ended up having to have a procedure to drain the effusion, which had increased in size. The news reports of this lawsuit are deficient in failing to describe what long-term damage, if any, the patient suffered from the alleged negligence.

It may be that the doctor was careless in failing to treat the effusion in a timely manner. However, what damages did the patient suffer from that carelessness? That may be the key issue to emerge in this case as the evidence is discovered and shared. Under Louisiana law and the law in every other jurisdiction, a finding of medical malpractice requires proving also that the negligence is a substantial factor in causing serious injuries to the plaintiff. Other than having to undergo one procedure to drain the fluid, there is no report of serious injury mentioned or known at this time.

Source:, "The Heart Care Group, doctor deny liability in medical malpractice suit", Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Dec. 21, 2015

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