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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on December 17th, 2013

Kroger Burrus Week in Review


Schronck v. Laerdal Medical Company
The family of a woman who died after EMTs were unable to resuscitate her with a defibrillator filed suit alleging her death was attributable to the device not being fully charged. The trial court granted summary judgment after granting the defendants’ motion to exclude the testimony of an expert who opined that the defibrillator was defectively designed. The Waco appellate court affirmed, finding that the expert’s opinion that the woman had a greater than 51% chance of survival if the device had functioned properly was conclusory and contradicted accepted literature that suggested her odds of survival were under 40%.

Laredo Medical Center v. Melendez
A patient who underwent a thermal ablation procedure filed suit against a clinic and the physician who performed the procedure, alleging a catheter was left in her leg. The defendants sought dismissal on the basis that the patient had not served curricula vitae for her Chapter 74 experts. The patient argued in response that the curricula vitae were included in her experts’ reports. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Laredo appellate court affirmed, holding that an expert’s curricula vitae need not be included in a separate document.

Borowski v. Ayers
A patient’s family filed suit alleging that his physicians failed to recognize and treat an aortic dissection. The physicians moved for summary judgment on the basis that the case was filed after the statute of limitations had expired because health authorizations that did not list the patient’s prior providers were not effective to toll the statute of limitations. The family countered that the forms were substantially compliant with the applicable statute and in the alternative that the defendants were estopped from objecting to the health authorizations because they had been used to obtain health records. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment, without specifying the grounds, and authorized an interlocutory appeal. The appellate court found that it lacked jurisdiction because the trial court had not first ruled on a substantive issue of controlling law.

East Texas Medical Center Regional Health System v. Reddic
A woman who slipped on a wet mat near the front desk of a hospital filed suit alleging a premises liability claim. The hospital moved for dismissal on the basis that she had not submitted an expert report. The Tyler appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial of the motion, finding that the claim qualified as a health care liability claim regardless of whether the plaintiff was a visitor or a patient.


Congress Moves Closer To Changing How Medicare Pays Doctors
Key congressional committees have approved legislation aimed at repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate, the formula that determines how physicians are compensated for treating Medicare patients. The new payment system is expected to compensate physicians for meeting certain quality metrics.

Burnout Among Inpatient, Outpatient Physicians Equal
An analysis of 54 studies of physician burnout has concluded that physicians practicing in an inpatient setting experience an equal amount of burnout as those who practice in hospitals.

Study Finds Medicare Beneficiaries Have Good Access to Doctors
More than 90% of Medicare beneficiaries report having access to a doctor’s office or clinic and are able to schedule timely appointments. Only about 2%  of Medicare beneficiaries report having problems finding a new physician, a rate comparable to privately insured adults aged 50 to 64.

Psychiatrists Least Likely to Accept Insurance
Psychiatrists are less likely than other physicians to accept insurance, with only about half reporting that they accepted private insurance between 2009 and 2010, compared to about 93% of other physicians.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa New Braunfels Hospital Named Accredited Chest Pain Center
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa New Braunfels Hospital has been named an accredited chest pain center by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.

CHRISTUS, Houston Methodist Finalize Partnership
CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital and Houston Methodist have finalized a partnership in which Houston Methodist will take a majority ownership of the facility, one other hospital in the Katy area, and a network of clinics in Katy and Nassau Bay.

Texas Children’s Opens First Preventative Cardiology Center
Texas Children’s Heart Center has opened a multidisciplinary center offering specialized care for children at risk for heart disease. The center will manage the risks of children who have a family history of cardiac disease, as well as treat children with Kawasaki disease, a rare condition involving the inflammation of blood vessels.

Texas Biggest Loser in Missed Federal Medicaid Funding
Texas is expected to lose out on the most federal funding among the 20 states foregoing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent study. The study’s authors estimate that if every state expanded Medicaid, as many as 21.3 million Americans would gain coverage by 2022.

Hospital Prices Biggest Drive of Medical Inflation
Hospital prices represent the largest share of the nation’s annual health care bill, about one-third of the $2.7 trillion spent annually, and are also the largest contributor to medical inflation, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

ACLU Files Suit Alleging Hospitals Place Women at Risk
The ACLU has filed suit in federal court in Michigan, alleging that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is placing women at risk by enforcing religious directives it argues discourage hospitals from performing therapeutic abortions at times when the mother’s life is at risk.

Medical Data Sharing Remains Challenge for Health Care Providers
Although many health care providers have made the transition to using electronic health records, it may still take another decade before these records can be easily shared among different health care systems, according to a report from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.

Parents Claim Child Denied Heart Transplant Because of Disability
The parents of a child born with a genetic disorder have challenged doctors’ decisions not to perform a heart transplant. They allege that claimed concerns about their child’s immune system are a pretext for discrimination against him because of his disability, which may result in intellectual impairments later in life.

Doctors Fear Lower Pay From Exchange Plans
Doctors in Texas and several other states have shared their fears with medical associations that they will receive less pay to treat patients who purchased coverage through the federal health law’s new insurance marketplaces. Insurance officials have acknowledged they have had to reduce rates in some plans, but anticipate physicians will make up for lower pay by seeing more patients.

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