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Johnson v. Bhandari

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 27, 2019

ARCHIE JOHNSON Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
DR. BAI RAJ BHANDARI Defendant-Appellee

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Morehouse, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2017-353 Honorable Robert W. Kostelka, Judge.

          ARCHIE JOHNSON Pro Se

          McNEW, KING & LANDRY, LLP Counsel for Appellee By:Brady D. King, II April M. Hammett

          Before MOORE, COX, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          COX, J.

         Archie Johnson filed a request for review by a medical review panel, alleging medical malpractice and delayed treatment by Dr. Raj Bhandari. The medical review panel did not find in favor of Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson then filed his medical malpractice suit against Dr. Bhandari in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. The trial court granted Dr. Bhandari's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Mr. Johnson's claims with full prejudice. Mr. Johnson has appealed the trial court's judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         On April 14, 2008, Mr. Johnson visited the office of Dr. Bhandari. Mr. Johnson was referred by Dr. Allen Spires, his primary physician, because of an elevated liver test and positive test for Hepatitis C. He did not have health insurance at the time of the visit. The consultation report notes that Mr. Johnson admitted to a history of IV drug use 35 years ago in Vietnam, leading to his discharge from the military. He had no other Hepatitis risk factors. The consultation report also states Mr. Johnson drinks one to two beers every other day.

         Dr. Bhandari's impressions from this 2008 visit were that Mr. Johnson had chronic Hepatitis C, elevated total protein, and he suspected Mr. Johnson would likely have cirrhosis. It was recommended that Mr. Johnson receive further tests for Hepatitis C, HIV, and Hepatitis B. Mr. Johnson was also advised to stop drinking all alcohol.

         Mr. Johnson's medical history included in the record is silent from 2008 until an emergency room visit on September 18, 2013, for abdominal pain. Mr. Johnson visited Dr. Spires on December 12 and 18, 2014, for abdominal pain. He was given a prescription for doxycycline hyclate and told to call if his symptoms worsened or persisted and return to the clinic as necessary.

         Mr. Johnson visited Dr. Bhandari again on May 27, 2015, after another referral from Dr. Spires. Mr. Johnson was seeking Dr. Bhandari's opinion regarding his Hepatitis C and had no symptoms other than fatigue. His consultation report stated he was not drinking alcohol or using tobacco. Dr. Bhandari's listed impressions from this visit were Hepatitis C and a colon cancer screening. Dr. Bhandari recommended that Mr. Johnson have a colonoscopy, ultrasound, and lab work. Mr. Johnson agreed with the plan and the colonoscopy was scheduled for June 8, 2015.

         On May 28, 2015, Mr. Johnson had an ultrasound of his abdomen. After reviewing the ultrasound, the radiologist recommended a CT scan. On June 3, 2015, Mr. Johnson received the follow-up CT scan of his abdomen. Also on June 3, 2015, Mr. Johnson was notified by a nurse with Dr. Bhandari's office that his drug screen taken on May 27, 2015, came back positive for marijuana. She told him that it could take his insurance company up to three months to approve or deny the request for his medication and that they do look at drug screens to help make their determination. She noted that he verbalized his understanding of what she said.

         On June 8, 2015, Mr. Johnson received another ultrasound of his abdomen after complaints of abdomen pain. The radiologist concluded Mr. Johnson presented a "normal study." Mr. Johnson was notified of the ultrasound results on June 12, 2015, and verbalized his understanding.

         Mr. Johnson returned to Dr. Bhandari on June 17, 2015. Dr. Bhandari's notes stated Mr. Johnson did not have his colonoscopy. His impression at this visit was that Mr. Johnson had Hepatitis C with cirrhosis of the liver. Dr. Bhandari recommended the following:

1. I have recommended he consider an upper endoscopy but he does not wish to have an upper endoscopy at this time to evaluate for esophageal varices due to the high risk of cirrhosis.
2. He should consider colon cancer screening. He had it about ten years ago in Wisconsin. He will let us know [if] he wishes to have this done. He has been explained the risks of colon cancer screening and surveillance and colon cancer mortality.
3. He needs an ultrasound every six months and alpha fetoprotein. He has been explained he will need this every six months ...

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