Medical Malpractice / Drug & Medical Device Litigation – Case Results

Gettys v. Joaquim Wong, MD, LSUHSC & Children’s Hospital
(December 2015)

On December 3, 2015, a jury in Civil District Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, returned a defense verdict for Dr. Joaquim Wong, LSU Health Sciences Center (State of Louisiana) in a four day medical malpractice case involving the death of a child at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.

Gabrielle Gettys, who was 16 years of age, was admitted to Children’s Hospital on December 10, 2008, as a longstanding GI patient suffering with ulcerative colitis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  She suffered from significant GI bleeding. Following her admission, she began having headaches, and was diagnosed with papilledema. After CT scans and MRIs confirmed lesions in the brain, the team of physicians believed the child suffered from an infectious disease process in the brain in part due to being an immune-compromised patient from her steroid treatment.

Dr. Wong performed a lumbar puncture in the evening of December 10th, the same date of her admission, suspecting infection.  About four hours later, the child suffered a brain herniation and died about a day later.

Plaintiffs’ alleged that Dr. Wong breached the standard of care in failing to properly treat the patient, by suspecting infection over cerebral thrombosis, which blood clots were not visible on imaging studies performed.  Plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant withdrew a greater amount of spinal fluid than was needed for testing, and that as a result, the child herniated and died.

Dr. Wong contended that at the top of the differential diagnosis was infection due to the child’s presentation, based on the imaging studies and due to her compromised immune system.  Standard of care was to test spinal fluid for atypical infections which required a greater volume of fluid. Moreover, had the child had blood clots, infection was still within the differential.

After hearing four days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants after deliberating just over 20 minutes.   Dr. Wong and LSUHSC were represented by Peter J. Wanek and Kathryn T. Trew.

 

Fleming v. Sheriff Newell Normand, et al 
(May 2014)

Thomas Anzelmo, Kyle Kirsch, and Craig Canizaro obtained summary judgment on behalf of CorrectHealth Jefferson, LLC and two of its nurses.  Plaintiff brought claims of medical negligence against the nurses and CorrectHealth arising out of the treatment he received following an alleged chemical exposure to his eye.  Plaintiff developed a corneal ulcer that lead to a recommended corneal transplant.  The defense submitted evidence and expert testimony that showed that CorrectHealth and its nurses did not breach the applicable standard of care in their treatment of plaintiff’s eye, but instead responded appropriately to plaintiff’s medical complaints and condition.  Additionally, the evidence established that plaintiff’s corneal ulcer did not result from the treatment he received from CorrectHealth and its nurses.  Accordingly, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defense, dismissing all of plaintiff’s claims.

 

Cook v. Jefferson Parish Hospital Service
(May 2004)

Thomas Anzelmo won an appeal at the 5th Circuit in favor of East Jefferson General Hospital in Cook v. Jefferson Parish Hospital Service. East Jefferson argued a plaintiff should not be able to recover the portion of medical expenses written off by a hospital pursuant to Medicare under the collateral source rule. The 5th Circuit acknowledged a previous ruling by the 2nd Circuit which held “a plaintiff may not recover as damages that portion of medical expenses ‘contractually adjusted’ or ‘written off’ by a healthcare provider pursuant to the requirements of the Medicaid program.” The court further held that “[b]ecause the portion of medical expenses that are “written off” by a healthcare provider are not damages incurred by the injured plaintiff, they are not subject to recovery by application of the collateral source rule.” The 5th Circuit concurred with the decision of the 2nd Circuit and held “…that the trial court erred in awarding that portion of medical expenses which were ‘contractually adjusted’ or ‘written off’ by East Jefferson pursuant to Medicare.”