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Robins v. Pirzadah

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 27, 2019

DOUGLAS ROBINS AND KATHERINE ROBINS
v.
MOHAMMAD ZOHAIR PIRZADAH, M.D. AND CHARLES LANE PEARSON, JR., M.D.

          Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Suit No. 642149 The Honorable William A. Morvant, Judge Presiding

          John L. Hammons William W. Murray, Jr. Lafayette, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants Douglas and Katherine Robins

          Janie Languirand Coles Jonathan E. Thomas Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/ Appellees Mohammad Z. Pirzadah, M.D. and Charles L. Pearson, Jr., M.D.

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO AND LANIER, JJ.

          LANIER, J.

         Plaintiffs/appellants, Douglas and Katherine Robins, seek review of a judgment rendered by the Nineteenth Judicial District Court in favor of the defendants/appellees, Mohammad Z. Pirzadah, M.D. and Charles L. Pearson, Jr., M.D., in which the trial court found the plaintiffs failed to prove their case of medical malpractice against the defendants. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 20, 2012, Douglas Robins presented to the emergency room (ER) at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (OLOL) in Baton Rouge with complaints of chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing yellow sputum. Mr. Robins was first examined by Dr. Gerard Broussard in the ER, who ordered a chest x-ray. The x-ray revealed findings consistent with congestive heart failure (CFIF).

         Based on his examination and the x-ray, Dr. Broussard admitted Mr. Robins to the intensive care unit (ICU) under Dr. Pirzadah's care. Mr. Robins alleged that Dr. Pirzadah discontinued treatment for CHF as ordered by Dr. Broussard and diverted Mr. Robins from the ICU to a telemetry bed. Mr. Robins remained at OLOL overnight, and on the following day was seen by Dr. Pearson. Mr. Robins alleged that Dr. Pearson did not timely review the x-ray or electrocardiogram performed on Mr. Robins which indicated CHF, and thus misdiagnosed Mr. Robins with pneumonia.

         During the afternoon of February 21, 2012, Dr. Pearson noted that Mr. Robins's condition was worsening. He transferred Mr. Robins to critical care after he was placed on a ventilator for being hypoxic. Mr. Robins's cardiac rhythm deteriorated, and he was resuscitated. It was at this point that Dr. Pearson reported to Mr. Robins's family that he had a poor prognosis. Dr. Carl Luikart was then consulted for Mr. Robins's cardiac arrest. Dr. Luikart's impression included congestive cardiomyopathy, acute respiratory failure, and acute cardiac arrest.

         On February 24, 2012, Mr. Robins was examined by Dr. Dariusz Gawronski, who found that Mr. Robins had sustained a hypoxic brain injury that left Mr. Robins in a vegetative state. On March 2, 2012, Mr. Robins was examined by Dr. Stephen Gordon, who noted that he was in a deep coma with intermittent twitching. In this permanent vegetative state, Mr. Robins required assistance with breathing and eating. When Mr. Robins was released from OLOL on March 8, 2012, he was diagnosed with anoxic brain damage, acute ventilator dependent respiratory failure, status post-cardiac arrest, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and Candida in sputum. His prognosis for a functional recovery was poor.

         The plaintiffs filed a request for a Medical Review Panel (MRP). The MRP rendered an opinion, which was mailed to plaintiffs on June 15, 2015. Two of the three panel physicians concluded that:

[T]here was a deviation by Dr. Pirzadah and Dr. Pearson. Upon hospitalization a deviation occurred as the patient was no longer treated for [CHF] and that treatment should have continued.... [T]he patient suffered a worsening pulmonary edema that led to respiratory failure, but cannot say whether this led to cardiac arrest.

         The plaintiffs filed a petition for damages on September 10, 2015, in which they claimed that Dr. Pirzadah breached the applicable standards of care by failing to follow and continue Dr. Broussard's treatment plans for CHF, and by cancelling Dr. Broussard's plan for admitting Mr. Robins to the ICU, thereby reducing the level of acute care he required. The plaintiffs also claimed that Dr. Pearson breached the applicable standards of care by failing to review and interpret the chest x-ray and echocardiogram results, and by not diagnosing Mr. Robins's worsening CHF until it resulted in cardiac arrest and hypoxia.

         Following a bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the defendants on September 26, 2018, finding that the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof on their claims. The trial court dismissed ...


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