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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on October 7th, 2012


CVS Pharmacy, Inc. v. Ballard
Defendant pharmacy challenged a pharmacist’s expert report on the basis that its references to provisions of the Texas Occupations Code and rules from the Texas Pharmacy Board were irrelevant because even specific provisions regulating pharmacist conduct could not impose a standard of care. The defense further argued that the rules cited were contrary because they call for pharmacists to fill prescriptions “safely and accurately as prescribed.” The Houston appellate court held that the report was adequate, noting that in addition to the rules and statutes, the expert listed five steps a prudent pharmacist should follow, including noticing the improper dosage.

In re Mid-Century Insurance Company of Texas
A plaintiff hospital filed suit in district court to dispute the reimbursement provided for a patient covered by a workers’ compensation policy. The defendant insurer sought dismissal, arguing the hospital had not exhausted its administrative remedies through the state’s Division of Worker’s Compensation. The hospital argued that it was affiliated with a corporation that formed an “informal network of health care providers” and was not subject to the DWC grievance process. The Houston appellate court agreed with the insurer, and noted that while an exception allows certified health networks to forego the DWC grievance process, the hospital was not part of a certified health network.

Trevino v. Ryke Physical Therapy
A plaintiff alleging she was injured by physical therapy equipment challenged the dismissal of her case for failure to serve an expert report. She argued that her claim was not health care related, and was based solely on the misuse of equipment by non-medical staff. The San Antonio appellate court held that physical therapists qualify as health care providers, noting that although they are not mentioned explicitly in the Texas Medical Liability Act, physical therapy is referred to as “health care” in other statutes. The court noted that even if the claim was not related to health care, it would still qualify as a health care liability claim because it deals with a claimed departure from the standards of safety, per the Texas Supreme Court’s recent decision in Williams.


CHRISTUS Spohn Health System adopts in house remedy to nation’s drug shortages
The CHRISTUS Spohn Health System has developed a centralized distribution center that allows it to buy drugs that are in short supply in bulk, pack them in house, and distribute them to the system’s hospitals to extend the drug supply and mitigate nation-wide shortages.

CHRISTUS Health set to enter joint venture with Chilean health system
CHRISTUS Health is set to enter a joint venture with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, a top Chilean university owned by the Catholic Church whose health network is one of the largest in Chile.

Deregulation of open-heart surgery lowers costs without impacting patient mortality
States that have removed regulations that deter some hospitals from offering open-heart surgery have experienced lower overall patient costs without an increase in patient mortality, according to studies conducted by Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Kleberg begins $3.9 million emergency room renovation
CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Kleberg has started a $3.9 million renovation project that will update and expand the hospital’s emergency room.

Michael Jackson’s doctor sues to keep license
Conrad Murray, the doctor sentenced to four years for killing pop idol Michael Jackson, has filed suit to prevent his medical license from being revoked.

Prescription drug overdose fatalities surpasses illegal narcotic deaths
The number of yearly prescription drug fatalities has surpassed the number of people who die from cocaine and heroin use combined, according to a study conducted by Brandeis University.

Suicide tops car accidents as number one cause of injury-related death
Suicide now tops the list of injury-related deaths after a sharp increase in the number of suicides between 2000 and 2009 and a marked decrease in deadly car crashes.

 OIG plans study on hospital payments for readmitted patients
The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General has announced a 2013 plan to study whether hospitals are overpaid for patients discharged to other facilities or readmitted the same day.

Study highlights safety of vaginal delivery of preterm babies
Preterm babies who are not breech can be safely delivered without a C-section, according to an analysis of 2,906 babies born at 24 to 32 weeks gestation.

Hospital shootings rare, often involve security officer’s gun
Hospital shootings are rare, but a study of 154 incidents has found that nearly half involved a gun stolen from, or used by, a security officer, suggesting that efforts to improve the securing of officers’ firearms could reduce the number of shootings even further.

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