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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on September 2nd, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Zanchi v. Lane
The family of a patient who died after surgery served a Chapter 74 expert report on a defendant physician prior to serving him with process. The physician sought dismissal on the basis that he was not yet a party when served with the expert report and as such the plaintiffs did not meet the 120-day deadline for serving an expert report. The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, holding that “party” refers to anyone named in the lawsuit and that it was not necessary for the plaintiffs to serve the physician with process before serving an expert report.

Taylor v. Allen
A woman who developed a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection following surgery filed suit against her surgeon and the hospital where she was treated alleging they were responsible for the infection. The defendants sought dismissal on the basis that the patient’s expert report was inadequate. The Houston appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal, noting that the plaintiff’s expert acknowledged it was no more likely that the MRSA was contracted from health care providers than visitors and that the rapid onset of symptoms suggested the patient was already colonized with MRSA.

Harrison v. University of Texas Health Science Center
A patient who contracted a lung infection filed suit against the health science center where he was evaluated alleging its physicians failed to diagnose the infection. The health science center sought dismissal on the basis of sovereign immunity. The patient argued the health science center’s immunity was waived because his allegation involved the use of tangible property, including an x-ray and stethoscope. The Houston appellate court found that immunity was not waived because the complaint did not involve the misuse of tangible property, but rather an allegation that information produced with equipment was not correctly interpreted.

Sessions v. TH Healthcare, Ltd.
A hospital that offered a physician a collections guarantee in exchange for his agreement to relocate his practice filed suit for breach of contract alleging the physician was required to pay the hospital any amount collected in excess of $725,000. The physician countered that the agreement applied only to collections for services performed within the hospital’s service area. The Texarkana appellate court found that the trial court correctly ruled that “collections” were not limited to the service area, but found that a question of fact remained regarding whether the agreement had been amended.

CHRISTUS Health Ark-La-Tex v. Curtis
A patient experiencing dizziness and muffled hearing filed suit after undergoing a procedure intended to reposition the crystals in his ear, alleging that he experienced a brainstem stroke as a result of the treatment. The defendant physician sought dismissal on the basis that the patient’s expert report was purely conclusory. The Texarkana appellate court found the report adequate, noting that the expert opined that the procedures performed were inappropriate because of the patient’s abnormal cerebrovascular anatomy and explained how these procedures contributed to the patient’s brainstem stroke.

Conboy v. Lindale Health Care
The family of a man who resided part-time at a skilled nursing facility filed suit after he left the facility against medical advice, fell, and died, alleging that the facility should have stopped him from leaving. The plaintiff’s expert opined that the man was at risk for falling because of the effects of medication and alcohol. The Texarkana appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case, finding that the expert report was conclusory because it was not known whether the patient fell shortly after leaving the facility or as late as 12 hours later when he was found and after the medication and alcohol may have already worn off.

NEWS

Tool for Testing Consciousness Could Change End-of-Life Decisions
An experimental method for measuring the complexity of consciousness could help doctors objectively gauge whether a patient is likely to recover. While MRI studies can measure brain activity, the process developed by researchers from Italy’s University of Milan appears to provide more insight into the degree of consciousness present that could prove beneficial when making end-of-life decisions.

Studies Question Success of Resident Shift Reforms
Limits imposed on the number of hours resident physicians may work were intended to improve patient safety, but recent studies suggest these reforms may be adversely affecting both patient care and physician training. While the limits offer residents more hours to sleep, they also increase the number of patient handoffs during which serious errors are more likely to occur.

Money May Be Motivating Doctors To Do More C-Sections
Patients who are physicians are 10% less likely to undergo an unscheduled C-section according to a recent study whose authors believe this suggests financial incentives are subtly encouraging obstetricians to recommend the more expensive delivery method.

CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth Opens Cath Lab Featuring Disney Pixar Technology
CHRISTUS Hospital St. Elizabeth in Beaumont has dedicated a new catheterization lab featuring a Black Diamond video system, the same used by Disney Pixar’s animators. The 56-inch, 8 mega-pixel monitor allows the cardiology team to simultaneously access patients’ lab work, previous films, and medical records.

Poll: Americans Divided on Health Law But Oppose Defunding
Although many Americans oppose Obamacare, the majority do not favor defunding it. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll also found that 51% of Americans do not understand how the health law reforms will affect them. Although October 1 has been touted by the administration as the start date for Obamacare, policies purchased through health care exchanges beginning on October 1 will not actually begin to provide coverage until January 1, 2014.

Study: Leaving Hospitals Early Increases Risks of Readmission, Death
Patients who leave the hospital early against medical advice face more than double the odds of 90-day mortality and 30-day readmission compared to those who comply with medical advice, according to the results of a study of almost 2 million hospital admissions over a 20 year period.

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