Citizens of Louisiana want to be able to trust their doctors, but when the carelessness of a medical professional hurts someone, the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund is the state’s remedy. As The Times-Picayune explains, this $875 million fund comes with its own set of regulations, and it is meant as a way to keep insurance prices low for medical professionals while also providing for those who are victims of medical malpractice.
Doctors, other medical professionals, private hospitals, nursing homes and other private facilities pay into the fund, and members are granted a layer of protection in the form of medical review panels. These panels are the first formal step in bringing a medical malpractice suit, and any complaint will be heard by three doctors, who determine whether or not a patient received care that was outside the standards of good practice. While the findings of the panel are not binding, they do have weight in court.
If a patient wins a case, the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund caps all payouts at $500,000. This amount was set back in 1974, but it does not cap medical care expenses a patient could be awarded. This means that future medical expenses can be ordered as part of a damages claim. Some lawmakers are interested in adjusting the laws in Louisiana, as the Advocate reported, to increase payouts to victims, and to ease the deadlines on case filings in order to help more patients. However, the proposed bills did not move forward in the spring session, and further review was called for before changes would be seriously considered.