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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on October 2nd, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Demagaloni v. Bexar County Hospital District
A woman alleging she was discriminatorily discharged from employment at a hospital district objected to the dismissal of her case on the basis that the hospital district improperly raised a statute of limitations defense in a plea to the jurisdiction rather than in a motion for summary judgment. The San Antonio appellate court affirmed on the basis that timely filing is a prerequisite to a lawsuit against a governmental unit and a plea to the jurisdiction was the appropriate procedural approach.

Christus Santa Rosa Health Care Corp. v. Botello
After non-suiting a defendant physician, a plaintiff delivered an expert report on the non-suited defendant’s attorney, but did not file a second petition until after the 120-day deadline had expired. The trial court denied the defendant physician’s motion to dismiss. The San Antonio appellate court reversed, concluding that the non-suited defendant physician was not a “party” after the original petition was non-suited and thus the plaintiff did not satisfy the requirement of serving an expert report on a party within 120 days of filing the original petition.

O’Connor v. Bollinger
After a patient’s cardiologist concluded in 2011 that he had likely experienced a heart attack in May 2008, the patient filed suit alleging he had been misdiagnosed with a bronchial infection. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the statute of limitations had run. The patient appealed, arguing that under the Texas Constitution’s open courts provision his claim should not be barred by the two-year filing deadline because he did not learn about the alleged misdiagnosis until 2011. The Tyler appellate court affirmed the dismissal, concluding that the patient had continued to experience symptoms and had an adequate opportunity to learn about the potential missed diagnosis before the statute of limitations ran.

Rodriguez-Salinas v. Cano
The family of a patient who died from blood loss following cardiac surgery filed suit alleging that the defendant surgeon’s course of treatment was improper. The defendant surgeon objected that the criticisms in the reports did not address any of the theories of liability pled. The Corpus Christi appellate court upheld the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, holding that one of the reports adequately addressed the plaintiffs’ complaint that the defendant surgeon offered inadequate heart protection. The court found that the expert report opined that an inadequate amount of cardioplegia, a heart-preserving solution, was administered and that the report was adequate so long as it addressed one of the theories of liability pled.

Mulholand v. Sherwood
Parents of an infant who died after contracting rotavirus and strep filed suit alleging he should have been admitted for further IV treatment. After jurors found in favor of the defendant physician, the family appealed arguing the trial court should have allowed the infant’s twin brother’s medical records into evidence. The Amarillo appellate court affirmed, concluding that the twin was not treated under substantially similar circumstances because he was admitted after his brother’s death and his health care providers had the benefit of hindsight.


Houston Methodist to Acquire Interest in Two Houston Hospitals
Houston Methodist will take a majority ownership share in two CHRISTUS hospitals in the Houston area, including CHRISTUS St. Catherine in Katy and CHRISTUS St. John in Nassau Bay. The transaction, which also includes CHRISTUS clinics, is expected to be complete by year’s end.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Surgery Center Wins Quality Award
For the fifth consecutive year the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Physicians Ambulatory Surgery Center in New Braunfels has won the national APEX Quality Award for patient satisfaction.

Study Finds Doctors Keep Practicing Despite Serious Errors
A USA Today investigation into physicians accused of making serious errors found that 52% of physicians who had clinical privileges removed or restricted by a medical facility never incurred any discipline from their state medical board. The study found that 250 of these doctors had been cited by their hospitals as an immediate threat to health and safety, while 900 were cited for serious violations including malpractice and incompetence.

AMA Study Finds Private Practice Remains Strong
An American Medical Association study has found that despite increases in hospital employment of physicians, private practice medicine remains strong. Although there has been a trend over the past five years toward hospital employment, about 60% of physicians practice in physician-owned practices.

Hospital Inquired Infections Cost $9.8 Billion a Year
Hospital acquired infections contribute toward $9.8 billion a year in costs, much of which could be prevented with additional measures. The Journal of American Medicine Internal Medicine study found that surgical site infections accounted for most of the costs, at an average increase in hospital expense of almost $21,000 per patient. The study’s authors estimate that additional investment in infection prevention could save up to $6 billion and 20,000 lives.

CDC Finds Deadliest Drug Resistance Attributable to Hospitals
While critics have complained that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is contributing to drug resistance, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified hospitals as the top source of dangerous, drug-resistance microbes.

Compounding Pharmacy Recalls on the Rise
Compounding pharmacies have been the subject of at least 14 multistate recalls this year, compared to two in 2012. Legislation has been proposed in the Senate that would require the largest compounding pharmacies to submit to FDA inspections every three years.

Long-acting Pain Drugs No Longer Approved for Moderate Pain
Long-acting drugs such as Oxycontin, which contribute to a disproportionate amount of prescription drug over doses, must now carry warnings that indicate these drugs are to be used only for the management of severe pain.

Study: ED Physicians Spend More time Entering Data than Seeing Patients
A study of physician productivity in the use of electronic medical records found that emergency department physicians spend 44% of their time entering data into electronic medical records, compared to 28% of their time seeing patients. The study suggests improved efficiency in data entry could contribute to more time being spent on patient care and an associated increase in hospital revenues.

OIG: Medicare Recovery Auditors Flawed, But Effective
An Office of Inspector General review of more than 2.5 million claims reviewed by Medicare recovery auditors found that the entities identified $1.3 billion in improper Medicare payments. However, the OIG was also critical that CMS did not do enough to make certain that improper payments and potential fraud could be prevented in the future.

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