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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on June 10th, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Children’s Medical Center of Dallas v. Durham
The family of a woman who died from complications associated with an enlarged aorta filed suit against a physician they alleged failed to arrange a consultation with a pediatric cardiologist that had been recommended by an earlier health care provider. The defendant physician challenged an expert report from a pediatrician, arguing he was not qualified to opine on causation. The Dallas appellate court held the pediatrician was qualified, noting that he cited experience treating patients with enlarged aortas and referring them to specialists.

Gardner v. Children’s Medical Center of Dallas
The family of a patient who experienced cerebral palsy following multiple failed intubation attempts appealed the jury’s finding that the health care providers did not act with willful and wanton negligence toward the patient. The appellants argued that the willful and wanton standard applicable to cases involving emergency care violates the constitutional right to equal protection. The Dallas appellate court found that there was a rational basis for the legislature’s imposition of a heightened standard in cases involving emergency care and upheld the jury’s verdict.

Ennis Medical Center v. Crenshaw
The mother of a hospital patient filed suit against a nurse alleging that she administered excessive amounts of a narcotic that caused brain damage. The plaintiff later amended her claim to assert that the nurse administered the narcotic too quickly and to claim that unnamed members of the nursing staff were negligent. The defendant health care provides sought dismissal on the basis that the new allegations were not supported by an expert report. The Dallas appellate court upheld the trial court’s refusal to dismiss the case, noting that recent case law has established that as long as one theory of liability is adequately addressed in an expert report an additional report is not necessary if claims are added or amended.

In re Dentistry of Brownsville
A defendant dentist sought a court order to abate the case filed against him on the basis that pre-suit notice was not served on his registered agent. The Corpus Christi appellate court held that the Texas Medical Liability Act does not require that pre-suit notice be served on a registered agent and that pre-suit notices sent to the defendant dentist’s attorney and to the administrator of his business entities provided satisfactory notice.

Phillips v. Bramlet
The defendant in a health care liability claim appealed a jury’s finding of gross negligence and obtained a new judgment eliminating punitive damages. The parties disputed whether the award of post-judgment interest runs from the date of the original judgment or from the date of the second judgment. The Texas Supreme Court held that in cases involving a remand judgment that do not involve the presentation of new evidence to the trial court interest begins to run from the date of the original judgment.


St. Luke’s Officials Finalize Hospital Sale
St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System has finalized the sale of its hospitals to Catholic Health Initiatives. The $1 billion sale includes the transfer of the Texas Medical Center Campus and facilities in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Pasadena, and The Vintage.

Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Receives Award From UT Alumni
Texas Children’s surgeon-in-chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser has received a distinguished alumnus award from the University of Texas alumni association, the highest alumni award granted by the university. Dr. Fraser, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, pioneered the first artificial heart for newborns at Texas Children’s.

Health Reform Imposes New Requirements for Charitable Hospitals
Hospitals claiming tax-exempt status as charitable organizations will have to meet four new requirements under the federal health law to maintain their status. Tax-exempt hospitals will have to start conducting a community health needs assessment every three years, develop financial assistance policies, notify patients about financial assistance policies prior to pursuing debt in court, and limit charges on uninsured patients.

Texas Legislature Passes Bill Limiting Insurers’ Third-Party Recovery
The Texas Legislature has passed a bill limiting the amount of reimbursement health insurance companies may recover from a lawsuit settlement. The bill is intended to help ensure that accident victims retain a portion of damages that otherwise would be tendered to insurers as reimbursement for medical expenses.

Drugmakers Cut Payments, Meals Provided to Doctors
Two pharmaceutical companies that are among the biggest payers of fees and providers of meals to doctors have reduced this spending my double-digit percentages.

Houston Man Sentenced in $45 Million Health Care Fraud Case
A Houston man has been sentenced to 109 months in federal prison for his role in a $45 million health care fraud scheme involving falsified claims for physical therapy services.

Man Receives First Bioengineered Vein in US

A kidney disease patient has become the first US recipient of a bioengineered blood vessel. Researchers rinsed the engineered graft with a solution that removes cellular properties that could cause rejection, although it is too early to determine if the recipient will experience any issues.

Colonoscopies Contribute to $10 Billion in US Health Care Costs
Colonoscopies performed in the US can cost more than child deliveries in other countries and are routinely performed despite expert recommendations that less invasive and cheaper tests to screen for colon cancer should be performed.

Bioethicist Argues Parents Who Do Not Vaccinate Should Face Liability
As New York copes with a measles outbreak, a bioethicist has argued that parents who decide not to vaccinate their children should be held legally accountable if an infection can be traced back to their child.

American Psychiatric Association Defends DSM-5
The chairman of the task force behind the new version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has responded to criticisms aimed at some of the changes, additions, and deletions to the fifth edition of the guide.

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