Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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In this medical-malpractice case stemming from the death of Shannon McCoy, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that judgment was properly entered in favor of Plaintiff as to Dr. Debra Gunn’s negligence in this case and that Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, P.A. (OGA) was vicariously liable for Dr. Gunn’s negligence. The Court further held (1) there was legally sufficient evidence of causation; (2) the trial court erred in excluding deposition testimony of Defendants’ expert witness regarding future medical expenses, but the error was harmless; (3) the medical billing affidavits providing proof of past medical expenses were proper; (4) the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on unavoidable accident; (5) OGA’s indemnity claim against Dr. Gunn was properly asserted post-verdict; and (6) Shannon’s death on the eve of the court of appeals’ decision did not create a windfall for Plaintiff. View "Gunn v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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At issue in this healthcare-liability case was whether the jury was properly allowed to consider, in deciding negligence, what a physician (Defendant) did or did not tell his patient (Plaintiff) about an inexperienced resident’s involvement in performing Plaintiff’s surgery, even though Plaintiff did not seek recovery on that basis. A jury found Defendant’s negligence caused Plaintiff’s injuries. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding (1) the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury not to consider Defendant’s failure to disclose the resident’s level of involvement was error, and the error was not harmless; and (2) Plaintiff’s expert was “practicing medicine” at the time of trial and thus qualified to testify. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the charge error required a new trial. View "Benge v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The trial court abused its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff’s expert report did not represent a good-faith effort to meet the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act and in dismissing Plaintiff’s health care liability claims. Plaintiff sued Defendants, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and his employer, asserting medical malpractice claims relating to the nurse’s administration before cataract surgery. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that Plaintiff’s expert report was deficient with respect to the elements of standards of care, breach of standards of care, and causation. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the report satisfied the good faith effort the Act requires. View "Baty v. Futrell" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss this health care liability action when it read several experts’ reports together to satisfy the requirement of the Texas Medical Liability Act that Plaintiffs serve each defendant with an “adequate” expert report or face dismissal of their claim. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(1). Plaintiff filed health care liability claims against three defendants, alleging that their respective negligence led to her mother’s death. Plaintiff filed four separate expert reports to satisfy the Act’s requirements. Each defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for failure to serve adequate reports. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s four reports - even when read together - did not constitute a good-faith effort to show that Plaintiff’s claims had merit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s four expert reports provided enough information for the trial court to conclude that they constituted a good-faith effort. View "Miller v. JSC Lake Highlands Operations, LP" on Justia Law

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Legally sufficient evidence supported the jury’s conclusion in this case that the negligence of a premature infant’s treating neonatologist, more likely than not, proximately caused the infant’s loss of vision. D.B. was born extremely premature. As a result of D.B.’s retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a retinal disorder that afflicts premature infants with low birth weights, D.B. became totally bind in her right eye, and the vision in her left eye was severely impaired. Plaintiffs, D.B.’s parents, sued D.B.’s neonatologist and his professional association, claiming that their negligence caused D.B.’s vision loss. The jury found that Defendants’ negligence caused D.B.’s injuries. The court of appeals reversed and rendered judgment that Plaintiffs take nothing, concluding that they failed to adduce any non-conclusory evidence of causation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that legally sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that the neonatologist’s negligence in assessing and treating D.B.’s ROP proximately caused her vision impairment. View "Bustamante v. Ponte" on Justia Law

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An expert report required by the Texas Medical Liability Act must address proximate cause. Plaintiff brought this health care liability claim against Hospital and others for the death of Yolanda Iris Flores. To satisfy the Act’s expert-report requirement, Plaintiff served two reports. Hospital argued that the expert reports did not adequately show causation. The trial court overruled the objection and denied Hospital’s motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that an expert report is not required to address proximate cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s expert reports did not show how Hospital caused Flores’s death, and therefore, the court of appeals’ judgment must be reversed and the cause remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Columbia Valley Healthcare System, L.P. v. Zamarripa" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a resident physician was entitled to dismissal of a malpractice claim on grounds that she was an employee of a governmental unit. Shana Lenoir died after receiving prenatal care at the University of Texas Physicians Clinic. Shana’s family filed a medical malpractice action against Dr. Leah Anne Gonski, a second-year medical resident who treated Shana. The trial court granted Gonski’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the election-of-remedies provision of the Tort Claims Act warranted dismissal because Gonski was an employee of the University of Texas System Medical Foundation, a governmental unit. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Gonski failed to establish that she was an employee of the Foundation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Gonski was not an employee of the Foundation under the Tort Claims Act. View "Marino v. Lenoir" on Justia Law

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Jeanne Ransom sued dentist Jeanine Eaton, alleging that Eaton extracted two teeth in addition to the nine agreed on in a treatment plan. Ransom served Eaton with the required pre-suit notice and included an export report, but Ransom never re-served the expert report after filing suit. After the passage of 120 days, Eaton moved to dismiss Ransom’s suit on the grounds that Ransom failed to serve her with an expert report within the 120-day deadline set forth in the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA). The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed. While Ransom’s petition for review was pending, the Supreme Court decided Hebner v. Reddy. The Supreme Court reversed in the instant case, holding (1) the holding in Hebner compelled the conclusion that Ransom satisfied the TMLA’s expert-report service requirement when she served Eaton with a report concurrent with pre-suit notice; and (2) Eaton waived any objection to the sufficiency of Ransom’s expert report by failing to raise any objection within twenty-one days after filing her original answer. View "Ransom v. Eaton" on Justia Law

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Dr. Lozano treated Andrade during her pregnancy and delivered her daughter at Women’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. The delivery was complicated by the baby’s shoulder dystocia, and Dr. Lozano allegedly engaged in excessive twisting. Andrade sued Lozano, alleging that his negligence caused the child permanent injury, including nerve damage and permanent paralysis of one arm. Andrade later added Renaissance, a limited partnership that owned and operated the Hospital, and RGV, Renaissance’s general partner. Lozano, an independent contractor with admitting privileges at the Hospital, was a limited partner in Renaissance. The Andrades settled with Lozano and nonsuited their claims against Renaissance. RGV moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were not liable for Lozano’s conduct because he was not acting within the scope of the partnership or with partnership authority when providing obstetrical care to Andrade, Tex. Bus. Org. Code 152.303. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court of Texas reversed. The ordinary course of the partnership’s business does not include a doctor’s medical treatment of a patient and that the doctor was not acting with the authority of the partnership in treating the patient; the partnership cannot be liable for the doctor’s medical negligence. View "Doctor Hosp. at Renaissance, Ltd. v. Andrade" on Justia 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