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Watson v. Glenwood Reg'l Medical Center

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 15, 2015

LAURIE WATSON, Plaintiff-Appellant

Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana. Trial Court No. M 24-2012. Honorable C. Wendell Manning, Judge.

MOORE, THOMPSON & LEE, APLC, By: Steve C. Thompson, James Francis d'Entremont, Stephanie E. Robin, Counsel for Appellant, Laurie Watson.

HUDSON, POTTS & BERNSTEIN, By: Charles W. Herold, III, G. Adam Cossey, Counsel for Appellees, The Woman's Clinic of Monroe, Tonya H. Sheppard, M.D., and Sherry S. Peveto, WHNP.

NELSON, ZENTNER, SARTOR & SNELLINGS, By: F. Williams Sartor, Jr., Counsel for Appellee, Dr. James Atchison.

HAYES, HARKEY, SMITH & CASCIO, LLP, By: Harry M. Moffett, IV, Paul Ford Lensing, Jr., Laura S. Achord, Counsel for Appellee, Glenwood Regional Medical Center, aka IASIS Glenwood Regional Medical Center, L.P.



Page 818

[49,661 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] MOORE, J.

Laurie Watson appeals a judgment that sustained exceptions of prescription and dismissed her medical malpractice claim. The issue is whether she filed her request for a medical review panel (" MRP" ) within one year from the date of discovery of the alleged act, omission or neglect, as required by La. R.S. 9:5628 A. Discerning no manifest error, we affirm.

Factual Background

Ms. Watson is a physical education coach at West Monroe High School. Her mother died young of breast cancer, when Ms. Watson was only 10 years old, so at

Page 819

age 40 Ms. Watson began having annual breast screening exams.

In March 2009, she went for her screen at The Woman's Clinic of Monroe. She reported to the nurse practitioner, Sherry Peveto, that she noticed a " puckering" on the inside part of her right nipple about two weeks prior. She had a screening mammogram at Glenwood Medical Mall on April 7; the radiologist, Dr. James Atchison, found a " small but subtle" lesion, so he ordered a spot compression mammogram. This was done on April 16, and Dr. Atchison interpreted it to show " benign findings." Ms. Watson testified that Dr. Atchison told her she was cancer-free.

A few weeks later, she discovered a small knot on her right breast. She called The Woman's Clinic on May 11, 2009, and went for a visit on May 22, reporting the knot to Nurse Peveto. She testified that at this time, she was " convinced" she had breast cancer. However, Nurse Peveto palpated the pea-sized nodule, found it " superficial," and told Ms. Watson it was just a benign fibroid cyst caused by drinking too much Dr Pepper. She [49,661 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] advised Ms. Watson to return " if anything changed." Ms. Watson testified she was " elated" that she was cancer-free.

Ms. Watson came for her next screening on April 27, 2010, telling Nurse Peveto that she still had the inversion and knot but they had not changed in the last year. She had her screening mammogram on May 6. A different radiologist, Dr. Hollenberg, found an area of " increased density" that had appeared since the previous exam, and ordered an ultrasound. This test, taken on May 10, found a mass with irregular borders, which Dr. Hollenberg felt was " highly suspicious for malignancy," so he ordered a needle biopsy. An internal record from The Woman's Clinic states that the patient was informed of this and referred to a surgeon, Dr. Trey Zizzi; however, Ms. Watson testified that she was not given any test results until she saw Dr. Zizzi, on May 13. At any rate, Ms. Watson had the needle biopsy at Glenwood Medical Mall on May 12. This showed " infiltrating duct cell carcinoma, moderately differentiated."

Ms. Watson testified that on her first visit to Dr. Zizzi, on May 13, 2010, he told her she had infiltrating ductal carcinoma in her right breast, and this was the first time anybody told her she had cancer. Dr. Zizzi did not remember many specifics of their conversation, but he was certain he advised her that the cancer was not a benign cyst, but cancer; that it had spread into surrounding breast tissue; and that treatment may require the removal of lymph nodes. Dr. Zizzi also testified that he referred Ms. Watson to a surgeon, Dr. Scott Barron, to discuss treatment options. Ms. Watson testified by deposition that at this time, she " most definitely" felt The Woman's Clinic had missed her diagnosis and she was " horrified" that the [49,661 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] cancer had progressed for a year without treatment.

Ms. Watson went to Dr. Barron on May 19, 2010; he advised her that the cancer might have spread to tissue beyond the lump. She testified that she considered a lumpectomy, but decided she " didn't want any more tests" and instead returned to Dr. Zizzi for a right mastectomy as a preventive measure against any future recurrence. She scheduled this for June 14 at Glenwood Regional Medical Center. However, a preoperative MRI of her chest, taken on June 1, showed not only the lump in her right breast, but suspicious nodes in the right axilla and " high risk of mastopathy in the left breast." Informed of this, she elected a double mastectomy.

Dr. Zizzi performed the seven-hour surgery on June 14, 2010. Pathology of the excised tissue ...

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