In a recent opinion from the First Circuit Court of Appeal for the State of Louisiana, the plaintiff appealed a trial court ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a medical malpractice action. In June 2006, the plaintiff underwent a spinal fusion surgery performed by a certain surgeon who later left the practice and moved out of state. Another physician who worked at the same neurosurgery center took over the plaintiff’s follow-up care and eventually referred the plaintiff to the defendant-physician for continued care. In particular, the plaintiff complained of persistent post-operative lower back pain, which extended to his buttocks and legs and caused him to experience difficulty sitting down.
The defendant is experienced in the field of pain management and neurology. When he first examined the plaintiff, he suggested that the plaintiff undergo a discogram to determine the source of his chronic pain. Following the procedure, the plaintiff reported experiencing severe headaches and reduced control of his bladder and bowel functions, along with worsening pain in his lower limbs. At this time, the defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with a spinal fluid leak. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff admitted himself to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with corda equine syndrome.
The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against the defendant in accordance with the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (LMMA), as well as a number of other health care providers. A medical review panel gathered to assess the claim, and on that same day, they rendered a decision concluding that the defendants had not deviated from the appropriate standard of medical care. Additionally, the medical review panel noted that the discogram procedure had known risks and complications and that the procedure resulted in a meaningful surgery.