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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on October 1st, 2012

Kroger | Burrus would like to introduce its new Week in Review report. Every Monday the firm will provide a brief recap of significant health care and medical malpractice news.

CASES

Schrapps v. Pham
An expert report that alleged the defendant surgeon negligently perforated the plaintiff’s bowel during surgery acknowledged that the source of the perforation was unknown, but was held sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. The Beaumont appellate court observed that if the facts do not support the claim after discovery the defendants can move for summary judgment at that time.

Clapp v. Perez
An anesthetist’s expert report alleged that physicians with different specialties—a surgeon and an anesthetist— both breached the standard of care by failing to insert a nasal-gastric tube during surgery to prevent aspiration. The El Paso appellate court rejected the report because it did not specify whether the doctors owed the same standard of care, different standards, or what the responsibilities of the two different specialists were during the surgery.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center v. Tcholakian
Houston’s First Court of Appeals has ruled that sovereign immunity does not prevent a public health care entity from being subject to pre-suit depositions to investigate a potential breach of contract claim. The Court distinguished a Texas Supreme Court holding that pre-suit depositions are not permitted in medical malpractice actions.

North Hills Hospital v. Alvarez
A hospital administrator who did not have a medical or nursing license was found qualified to identify the standard of care for nurses with respect to policy compliance and using the chain of command to advocate for patients. The Fort Worth appellate court held that a separate report from a physician that addressed the nurse’s medical care could be taken together with the administrator’s report to satisfy statutory expert report requirements.

Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of North Houston v. Parks
An expert report served by a nurse was found inadequate because a medical doctor must address causation, but the trial court did not err when it permitted the plaintiff a 30 day extension to submit a new report. The Beaumont appellate court found that because a report from a different expert can be submitted when the first report is found deficient, the plaintiff was still entitled to add a doctor’s report.

NEWS

UT Health Science Center Names Finalist for President
The University of Texas System Board of Regents has named Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo as the sole finalist for president of the university’s Health Science Center at Houston. Colasurdo joined the faculty in 1995, was named chair of the pediatrics division in 2005, and became dean in 2007.

Texas Medical Center Announces New President and CEO
The Texas Medical Center has selected Dr. Robert Robbins as the center’s new president and chief executive officer. Dr. Robbins, a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, is currently a professor at Stanford, where he chairs the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and directs the university’s cardiovascular institute. He will assume his new position on November 5, 2012.

Harris County Hospital District Becomes Harris Health System
The Harris County Hospital District is now the Harris Health System. David Lopez, the health system’s president and CEO, explained that the name change was intended to emphasize that the system’s services are not limited to its three hospitals. The health system also features 16 health centers, 15 homeless shelter clinics, seven school-based clinics, five mobile health units, a dialysis center, dental center, and a specialty ambulatory center.

Tort Reform Passes State Constitutional Muster
Plaintiffs have frequently challenged the validity of damages caps on federal constitutional grounds, but for the first time an appellate court has validated the limits after a challenge on state constitutional grounds. The court also upheld a provision that permits doctors who are financially secure to pay awards in periodic payments, rather than in a lump sum.

Texas Medical Board Challenges Critical Watchdog Report in Letter to Governor
The Texas Medical Board issued a three-page letter to Gov. Rick Perry last month challenging a critical report by the group Public Citizen. The group’s report alleged that hundreds of doctors sanctioned by the board were never disciplined. The Board emphasized that the ranking system used by the Federation of State Medical boards places Texas in the top five scoring states for 2010 and 2011. Public Citizen used a different ranking system which placed Texas in the bottom half of states, according to the Board.

Texas Licenses Record Number of Doctors
The Texas Medical Board licensed a record 3,630 new physicians over the past year, an increase of more than 70 percent compared to the number licensed before 2003 tort reform measures were passed. Over the past nine years, Texas has licensed an average of 3,135 new physicians each year, compared to an average of 2,363 in the nine years before the legislature limited some health care liability claim damages.

Harris Health System to Open New Cancer Clinic
A new cancer and medical clinic is scheduled to open October 1 that will provide treatment for patients who cannot afford care. The Harris Health System (formerly the Harris County Hospital District) will operate the facility, and doctors from Baylor College of Medicine will staff the breast cancer unit. At least 160,000 patients are expected to receive treatment annually.

CHRISTUS Children’s Hospital Receives Independent License
Children’s Hospital of San Antonio has been certified as an independent, separately licensed children’s hospital, a development that will allow it to receive millions more in Medicaid funds. The hospital, formerly known as CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, now expects to be able to recoup up to 90 percent of its costs for caring for children, compared to the 51 percent reimbursement it had been receiving while merged with the adult hospital.

Texas Children’s Hospital Welcomes Quintuplets as Last of Sextuplets Heads Home
Doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital delivered a set of quintuplets earlier this month, and bid a fond farewell to the last of a set of sextuplets delivered about five months earlier. The sextuplets weighed between 1 pound, 10 ounces and 2 pounds, 15 ounces when born and now weigh between 8 pounds and 13 pounds. They are doing well and growing as expected for babies born at 30 weeks generation. The quintuplets weighed between 2 pounds, 4 ounces and 2 pounds, 9 ounces at birth. They are reported to be in critical, but stable condition and are all currently off of ventilators and are being supported by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

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