This month, New Orleans residents will be voting on a proposed amendment to the Louisiana State Constitution designed to protect the Patient Compensation Fund. The amendment requires that the funds only be used for payment of medical malpractice claims, and bars state lawmakers from diverting any money in the fund to cover other areas of government spending.
The Patient Compensation Fund was created 37 years ago as part of Louisiana’s efforts to manage costs associated with medical malpractice claims. All damages in medical malpractice claims involving government-operated medical providers are paid through this fund – up to the statutory cap of $500,000. Private medical providers who choose to participate in the fund are responsible for the first $100,000 in damages from any medical malpractice claim. Any amount awarded above that – up to the same statutory cap – is paid out of the Patient Compensation Fund. For individuals who have suffered long term injury as at the result of medical malpractice, the fund also pays future medical expenses.
Surcharges paid by health care providers who wish to participate in this program provide the finances supporting the fund. Given Louisiana’s fiscal condition, there has been growing concern that the state government may eventually seek to use money held in the Patient Compensation Fund to cover financial shortfalls in other areas of government spending. The proposed constitutional amendment would ban such action.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, we would be happy to answer your questions. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.