A Louisiana neurosurgeon may face multiple lawsuits after the fund that normally handles malpractice claims in the state said it might not cover the cases.
Dr. Ravish Patwardhan already has had to surrender his surgical privileges in September over concerns about the speed of his surgeries, the number of surgeries he performed annually and the amount of followup care he provided. Now the state’s compensation fund says that if it decides Patwardhan intentionally caused harm to patients, he’s on his own.
In Louisiana, malpractice claims involving negligence or lack of medical skill are not filed against physicians directly. Instead, they are filed against the Louisiana Patients Compensation Fund, which physicians pay into in return for malpractice coverage. Such claims are capped at $500,000. However, the fund won’t cover cases if it determines that the physician intentionally harmed the patient. A panel of experts will review the claims made against Patwardhan, a process that could take as long as 2 years.
The case is unusual because usually people can sue only after a panel finishes its work. However, John Hammons, the attorney who is handling about 100 potential malpractice claims against Patwardhan, sued both Patwardhan and the fund directly after being notified that the claims might not be covered under Louisiana malpractice law.
Earlier this year, Hammons reported his concerns about Patwardhan to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, triggering an investigation that led to the board suspending Dr. Patwardhan’s right to practice surgery.
Source: The Shreveport Times