Articles Posted in Health Law

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In 1994, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (the Therapists Board) adopted a rule listing specific therapeutic services that licensed marriage and family therapists (MFTs) may provide. As relevant to this appeal, the rule permits MFTs to provide “diagnostic assessment…to help individuals identify their emotional, mental, and behavioral problems.” In 2008, the Texas Medical Association filed suit against the Board seeking a declaratory judgment that the rule was invalid because it grants MFTs authority that the Texas Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists Act does not grant and that the Texas Medical Practice Act reserves for medical licensees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Medical Association. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Texas Occupations Code authorizes MFTs to provide diagnostic assessments, and therefore, the diagnostic-assessment rule is valid. View "Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists v. Texas Medical Ass’n" on Justia Law

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In 2003, the county court appointed Beatriz Burton guardian of the person and estate of Ryan Keith Tonner, who was incapacitated due to an intellectual disability. Burton died in 2007. In 2012, guardianship was transferred to Lubbock County. One month later, Disability Rights Texas filed an application on Tonner’s behalf to fully or partially restore his capacity. The trial court dismissed the application, concluding that Tonner’s capacity was not restored, and that although his named guardian had died, her powers and duties “will remain unchanged.” The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the lower courts could not determine whether Tonner’s capacity should be partly restored without appointing a successor guardian, which Tonner did not seek. View "In re Guardianship of Ryan Keith Tonner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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In 2012, Dr. Franklin performed surgery on Baird to remove the left lobe of her thyroid. Franklin removed thymus gland tissue instead of thyroid tissue. Baird needed another surgery. Christus Santa Rosa Health System convened a medical peer review committee to review Franklin’s performance. The committee did not recommend any action. Baird sued Franklin, who moved to designate Christus as a responsible third party, alleging that Christus had failed to inform him that the cryostat machine, a critical piece of equipment, was unavailable. Franklin served a request for production on Christus, asking for documents from Christus’s medical peer review file. Christus argued that documents were privileged under the medical peer review committee privilege, Tex. Occ. Code 160.007(a). The court ordered Christus to produce the documents under a protective order, requiring that the documents be disclosed only to Franklin and his attorney. The Supreme Court of Texas granted mandamus. The trial court abused its discretion in ordering the documents produced without proper in camera inspection to determine whether the exception in section 160.007(d) applies. That exception reads: If a medical peer review committee takes action that could result in censure, suspension, restriction, limitation, revocation, or denial of membership or privileges in a health care entity, the affected physician shall be provided a written copy of the recommendation of the medical peer review committee and a copy of the final decision, including a statement of the basis for the decision. View "In re Christus Santa Rosa Health Sys." on Justia Law

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The Texas Optometry Act prohibits commercial retailers of ophthalmic goods from attempting to control the practice of optometry; authorizes the Optometry Board and the Attorney General to sue a violator for a civil penalty; and provides that “[a] person injured as a result of a violation . . . is entitled to the remedies. In 1992, Wal-Mart opened “Vision Centers” in its Texas retail stores, selling ophthalmic goods. Wal-Mart leased office space to optometrists. A typical lease required the optometrist to keep the office open at least 45 hours per week or pay liquidated damages. In 1995, the Board advised Wal-Mart that the requirement violated the Act. Wal-Mart dropped the requirement and changed its lease form, allowing the optometrist to insert hours of operation. In 1998, the Board opined that any commercial lease referencing an optometrist’s hours violated the Act; in 2003, the Board notified Wal-Mart that it violated the Act by informing optometrists that customers were requesting longer hours. Optometrists sued, alleging that during lease negotiations, Wal-Mart indicated what hours they should include in the lease and that they were pressured to work longer hours. They did not claim actual harm. A jury awarded civil penalties and attorney fees. The Fifth Circuit certified the question of whether such civil penalties, when sought by a private person, are exemplary damages limited by the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 41. The Texas Supreme Court responded in the affirmative, noting that “the certified questions assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the Act authorizes recovery of civil penalties by a private person, rather than only by the Board or the Attorney General.” View "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Forte" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Hospital, alleging that she was injured when she slipped on water on the floor. Hospital filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiff’s claim was a health care liability claim (HCLC), and Plaintiff failed to serve an expert report as required by the Texas Medical Liability Act. The trial court denied Hospital’s motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that because Plaintiff’s claim was based on an alleged departure from accepted standards of safety, it was an HCLC. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that no substantive nexus was shown to exist between the safety standards Plaintiff alleged Hospital violated the the provision of health care, and therefore, Plaintiff’s claim was not a health care liability claim. View "Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hosp. Sys." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Injury Law

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Plaintiff, a visitor at Hospital, fell when she slipped on a floor mat in the hospital lobby. Plaintiff sued Hospital on a premises liability theory. Hospital asserted that Plaintiff’s claim was a health care liability claim (HCLC) under the Texas Medical Liability Act, and therefore, the claim must be dismissed because Plaintiff did not serve an expert report as required by the Texas Medical Liability Act. The trial court denied Hospital’s motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the floor care of the hospital lobby had an indirect relationship to the provision of health care that was sufficient to satisfy the safety prong of the Act, and therefore, Plaintiff’s claim was an HCLC. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the record did not reflect a substantive nexus between the safety standards Plaintiff claimed Hospital violated and Hospital’s provision of health care. View "Reddic v. E. Texas Med. Ctr. Reg’l Health Care Sys." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Injury Law

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Plaintiff, a visitor to St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, slipped and fell in an area of the lobby where the floor was being cleaned and buffed. Plaintiff sued the Hospital on a premises liability theory. The Hospital asserted that Plaintiff’s claim was a health care liability claim (HCLC) under the Texas Medical Liability Act and moved for dismissal of the complaint because Plaintiff failed to serve an expert report. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s suit was not a HCLC because the record demonstrated that Plaintiff’s claim was based on safety standards that had no substantive relationship to the Hospital’s providing of health care; and (2) because Plaintiff’s claim was not an HCLC, Plaintiff was not required to serve an expert report to avoid dismissal of her suit. Remanded. View "Ross v. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hosp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Injury Law

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Following their two-month-old’s death from whooping cough, Plaintiffs sued Kristin Ault, D.O. and her employer, ETMC First Physicians, alleging that Dr. Ault’s negligence caused the infant’s death and that ETMC was vicariously liable for the negligence. After Plaintiffs served Defendants with an amended expert report, Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, alleging that the expert’s opinions as to causation were conclusory because the report failed to link the expert's opinions to the underlying facts. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and ordered the lawsuit dismissed in light of conflicting statements in the report, which the court held failed to link the expert’s conclusions to the underlying facts. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the report was not conclusory but was a good faith effort to comply with the Texas Medical Liability Act’s requirements. View "Van Ness v. ETMC First Physicians" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff suffered a severe adverse reaction to a compounded drug administered by her physician that left her permanently blind in both eyes. Plaintiff sued the compounding pharmacy and several of its licensed-pharmacist employees. Taking the position that Plaintiff had asserted health care liability claims governed by the Texas Medical Liability Act (Act), the defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for failure to serve them with an expert report. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the pharmacist defendants were not health care providers, the claims against them were not health care liability claims, and therefore, the Act did not apply. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Act applies to Plaintiff’s claims against the pharmacist defendants; (2) under the applicable version of that Act, Plaintiff was required to serve the defendants with an expert report within 120 days of filing suit; and (3) because Plaintiff failed to do so, her claims must be dismissed. Remanded. View "Randol Mill Pharmacy v. Miller" on Justia Law

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In 2003, the Legislature enacted the Medical Liability Act, which contains a statute of repose that operates as a bar to claims that are not brought within ten years of the date of the medical treatment. In this case, alleged negligence occurred during the birth of a child in 1996. No suit was filed until 2011, five years after the repose statute’s deadline. The hospital moved for summary judgment, asserting that the repose statute barred the claim. The mother responded that the Act’s ten-year statute of repose violates the open court and retroactivity provisions of the Texas Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld the Act’s repose statute against the mother’s as-applied constitutional challenges, holding (1) the mother’s open courts challenge failed due to the mother’s lack of diligence in filing suit; and (2) the mother’s retroactivity challenge failed because a compelling public purpose justified the legislation and granted the mother a three-year grace period to file suit. View "Tenet Hosps. Ltd. v. Rivera" on Justia Law