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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on June 26th, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

CHCA Woman’s Hospital v. Lidja
The parents of premature infant filed suit against the defendant hospital alleging that improper treatment in the pediatric intensive care unit caused injuries to the child. Four days prior to the 120-day deadline for a statutory expert report the plaintiffs non-suited the case, but re-filed more than two years later. The defendant hospital sought dismissal on the basis that the 120-day deadline to file an expert report had expired. The Texas Supreme Court held that a second report was timely after concluding that the deadline is tolled after a claim is non-suited. The Court reasoned that if this deadline was not tolled claimants would be less inclined to dispose of lawsuits lacking merit early in the litigation process.

Young v. ThotaThe widow of a man who underwent a cardiac catheterization filed alleging that his death was attributable to injuries sustained after the defendant physician incised the wrong site for the catheter and did not detect subsequent blood loss prior to discharge. Jurors found in favor of the defendant physician. The plaintiff argued on appeal that the evidence did not support the jury’s finding as a matter of law. The Fort Worth appellate court noted that there was evidence offered to suggest that the defendant physician performed the procedure properly, as well as contrary evidence furnished by the plaintiff’s experts and that the jury properly considered the competing evidence and reached a decision.

NEWS

Texas Medical Board Hires Five for ‘Pill Mill’ Oversight
The Texas Medical Board has hired five full-time employees to help regulate the state’s more than 300 pain management clinics in an effort to combat pill mills. The new hires include three investigators, an attorney, and an administrative assistant.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Plans $4.3 Million Renovation of New Braunfels Hospital
The CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System will invest $4.3 million to renovate its New Braunfels hospital. The project will include improvements to the hospital’s emergency department, nurses’ stations, common areas, and the conversion of non-private rooms into private rooms.

Thousands of Unnecessary Surgeries Performed Annually
Tens of thousands of unnecessary surgeries are performed each year, according to a review of medical data by USA Today. These unnecessary procedures may account for up to 20% of all operations performed in some specialties. The review found that the most common unnecessary procedures include various cardiac interventions, spinal surgeries, knee replacements, hysterectomies and cesarean sections.

Experts Discuss Changes to Physician Compensation
Experts questioned by the Wall Street Journal about physician pay tended to agree that the fee-for-service model needs to be tweaked or abandoned outright for a system that more closely aligns the interests of patients and physicians. Many of the respondents recommended a scheme that compensates practitioners for quality of care, while others recommended a transition to bundled, team-based payments that would include a single charge for hospital fees and physician services.

Hospital Lawsuit Highlights Challenges in EMR Adoption
A small Kansas hospital seeking to adopt a comprehensive electronic medical record system has filed suit against the vendor that it says was unable to live up to expectations. Officials at the hospital, which had only two IT staff members, noted that the contract was difficult to understand, contributing to a disagreement over additional charges for attendance-tracking features, lab test functions, and electronic billing. The hospital has since hired a “vendor neutral” consulting firm to help it implement an electronic medical record program.

Groups Push for More Nurse Practitioner Autonomy
Approximately one-third of states allow nurse practitioners to practice without physician oversight and as demand for primary care increases some are pushing for other states to follow suit. Critics argue that patients are better served receiving care from both nurse practitioners and physicians, particularly when a patient’s chronic condition becomes unstable.

Insurers Pay $500 Million in Health Law Rebates
Health insurers are issuing rebates totaling $500 million to about 8.5 million consumers as part of an Affordable Care Act provision that requires companies to spend a certain amount on premiums or issue a refund.

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