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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on October 22nd, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Methodist Hospital v. Halat
A physician who terminated his employment agreement with a hospital filed suit alleging that it refused to compensate him for accrued time off. The defendant hospital characterized the claim as a health care liability claim on the basis that the physician raised concerns about patient safety in his resignation letter. The defendant hospital’s motion to dismiss for failure to file an expert report was denied. The Houston appellate court affirmed, noting that the physician’s purported motive for resigning was not relevant to whether a breach of contract occurred.

In re Gunn
An obstetrician group  filed suit against an obstetrician for indemnity and against the attorney that had previously represented both parties for legal malpractice after an adverse jury verdict. The obstetrician group obtained a ruling disqualifying the attorney from continuing to represent the obstetrician about one year after the adverse verdict. The Houston appellate court found the trial court abused its discretion by disqualifying the attorney on the basis that the obstetrician group had waived its right to seek disqualification by waiting for almost a year.

NEWS

Baylor College of Medicine, St. Luke’s Consider Partnership
Baylor College of Medicine and Catholic Health Initiatives, the new owner of the St. Luke’s Health System, have entered into negotiations for a possible partnership that could be finalized within 90 days.

25%  of Hospitals Have Made no EMR Progress
About a quarter of hospitals have not made any progress in implementing robust electronic medical record systems over the past 5 years, according to a recent study, and 4% continue to use completely paper-based record systems.

Nurse Practitioners Satisfied, But Overextended
Nurse practitioners are among the most satisfied health care professionals, with more than 90% reporting they are happy with their careers and optimistic about the future. More than 80% of respondents also report that they are either at capacity or overextended.

Nurse Staff Levels Tied to Medicare Readmission Rate
Hospitals with higher nurse staffing levels are 25% less likely to face Medicare penalties tied to readmission rates. Researchers estimate that for each additional nurse hour per patient the odds of a hospital being penalized are lowered by 10%.

Laser Surgery Lawsuits Against Non-Physicians on the Rise
The number of lawsuits filed against non-physicians more than doubled between 2008 and 2011, increasing from 36% of total cases to about 75%. The majority of these lawsuits involved laser hair removal procedures performed outside of formal medical centers.

Bexar County DA Mulls Opening New ‘Killer Nurse’ Cases
Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed has announced her intent to pursue new cases against a pediatric nurse convicted of killing one child and injuring another in the 1980s. Genene Jones, who is suspected of having killed dozens of other infants, could be released as early as 2018 under the provisions of a mandatory sentencing law.

Eye Contact From Doctors Builds Trust
An evaluation of physician’s interactions with patients found that those who maintained the most eye contact tended to build trust and received higher ratings from patients. Social contact, such as a pat on the back, was also found to improve patients’ impressions, but only up to a point. The study found that when doctors touched a patient more than three times they tended to feel uncomfortable or find the doctor insincere.

Robot Surgery Use, Injuries Increasing
Robot-assisted surgeries have increased by more than 60% over the past three years in conjunction with aggressive marketing efforts, but the number of injuries and deaths has also increased dramatically. Reports of adverse outcomes associated with robot-assisted procedures more than doubled in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2012.

Many ICU Patients Leaving Hospital With Cognitive Problems
New research shows that many patients who entered the hospital with no history of learning or memory problems are leaving with cognitive impairments after receiving treatment in the ICU. A Vanderbilt University analysis of 800 ICU patients found 74% experienced delirium during their hospitalization and were more likely to develop a dementia-like disease later in life.

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