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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on April 14th, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Lindsey v. Adler
A patient filed suit pro se alleging that she was injured by an injection she received during her scar removal treatment. The defendant physician and nurse moved to dismiss on the basis that no expert reports were filed within the 120-day deadline. Prior to the hearing the patient amended her pleadings to remove claims of malpractice and to allege negligence, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Dallas appellate court upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the claim, holding that the facts alleged established the lawsuit was a health care liability claim subject to Chapter 74.

Cervantes v. McKellar
Plaintiffs in a health care liability claim filed notice of an accelerated appeal 78 days after their claim was dismissed due to lack of an adequate expert report. The Texarkana appellate court held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal because the notice of appeal was not filed within the 20-day filing deadline or within an additional 15-day grace period. A motion to reconsider filed with the trial court did not impact the filing notice deadline for an accelerated appeal.

Avila v. Jimenez
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that a defendant physician’s negligence contributed to a patient dying from a fat embolism following surgery. The defendant physician sought dismissal on the basis that the plaintiffs’ expert reports did not mention the defendant physician by name. The Corpus Christi appellate court upheld the trial court’s refusal to dismiss. The Court concluded that because the plaintiffs’ expert opined that the patient should not have been operated on in an ambulatory surgical center, or should at least have been observed overnight, the defendant physician’s care was adequately implicated in the report.



Houston Health Care Providers Join Health Information Exchange
Twenty-five health institutions and clinics have contracted to participate in a Health Information Exchange that will permit health care providers to electronically access patients’ records from other facilities. CHRISTUS Health and Legacy Community Health Services are the first to begin exchanging patient health histories through the system which is projected to include up to 14,000 physicians and 130 hospitals.

Sextuplets Delivered at Texas Children’s Hospital
A Houston woman has given birth to sextuplets. The three boys and three girls, who were delivered at 30 weeks, are in stable condition in the Texas Children’s Pavilion’s neonatal intensive care unit.

HISD Board Approves Creation of Baylor College of Medicine-affiliated Middle School
The Houston Independent School District has approved the creation of the Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan. The new magnet middle school will feature curriculum focused on the health sciences. The school will be aligned with the Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, which the college and school district have operated jointly since 1972.

79-Year-Old Cardiologist Sentenced to 7 Years for Fen-Phen Fraud
A 79-year-old Florida cardiologist has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud. He was accused of receiving compensation in exchange for falsely certifying that patients seeking to recover from a Fen-Phen settlement fund had sustained heart damage.

 ‘Robot Doctors’ Effectiveness Questioned
While health care innovations such as the daVinci robotic surgery system are promoted as promising alternatives to traditional surgery, some have questioned whether the cost of cutting edge technology is warranted by the outcomes. A study of hysterectomy procedures performed with the daVinci system found that the outcomes were no better than with conventional surgeries, but increased costs by over 30%. Similarly, proton beam therapy for prostate cancer has been found to be no more effective than less costly conventional alternatives.

Hospitals Question Fairness of New Medicare Rules
Under the federal health law reforms hospitals that experience large numbers of readmissions can face steep penalties as an incentive to improve patient outcomes. Some health care experts and executives have objected that this policy unfairly targets hospitals that treat the sickest patients and patients who face the greatest socioeconomic challenges.

Lawyers, Doctors Partner to Assist Patients
Medical-legal partnerships between attorneys and health care institutions provide an opportunity to improve patient health care by offering free legal advice to resolve issues that can contribute to stress and anxiety that could negatively affect a patient’s health.  In Ohio, Akron’s Community Legal Aid is in the process of studying whether providing an on-site attorney to respond rapidly to patients’ concerns can measurably improve patients’ health outcomes.

 Mortality Rate at Isolated Rural Hospitals Rising
Between 2002 and 2010 the mortality rates at Critical Access Hospitals—medical providers located in isolated regions supported by federal funding—increased while during that same period mortality rates at other hospitals steadily fell. Researchers have suggested that this trend may be attributable in part to a lack of technology, specialists, and special treatment by the government, which does not require that these hospitals to report performance evaluations to Medicare.

 Jury Awards Record $524 Million Verdict in Hepatitis C Case
A Nevada jury has awarded a verdict totaling $524 million in a case in which two of the three plaintiffs alleged they contracted Hepatitis C as a result of treatment by a physician who contracted with the defendant health insurer. The verdict included $500 million in punitive damages.

Struggling Hospitals Forgo Malpractice Coverage
Several of the most troubled hospitals in New York, as well as some in other impoverished parts areas, have started operating without malpractice insurance. Some of these hospitals had saved money to cover liabilities, but have since exhausted their malpractice reserves. One hospital has already closed its obstetric practice, in part due to concern over potential litigation.

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