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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on December 23rd, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Castillo v. Brownsville-Valley Regional Medical Center
After an ICU charge nurse was disciplined for refusing to accompany a med-surg patient and instead resumed her ICU duties after a code, several other nurses refused to assume the responsibility of charge nurse. The nurses’ union filed suit under the National Labor Relations Act and state whistleblower laws, alleging they had been terminated for engaging in protected, concerted activity. The trial court granted the hospital’s plea to the jurisdiction, holding that the union’s claims were pre-empted by federal labor law. The Corpus Christi appellate court affirmed, concluding the whistleblower claims involved the same operative facts as the labor allegations and were thus pre-empted by federal law.

Garza v. Deleon
The parents of a child who sustained injuries during a circumcision filed suit against the physician who performed the procedure. The physician objected to the plaintiffs’ expert report, arguing that it did not explain what she was supposed to have done to avoid injuring the child’s urethra. The Corpus Christi appellate court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, finding that the report adequately opined that the physician should have avoided cutting into the urethra with a scalpel or electrocautery tool, crushing it with a circumcision clamp, or puncturing it with a suture.

 SJ Medical Center v. Estahbanati
A hospital named in a negligence suit filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that it was immune to suit because it should be considered a hospital district management contractor. The Houston appellate court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the plea, concluding that although the hospital was treated as a partnership for tax purposes, it was organized as a limited liability company and as such could not qualify as a hospital district management contractor. The court noted that only partnerships, nonprofit corporations, and sole proprietorships can qualify as hospital district management contractors that qualify for governmental immunity.


Texas Law Prohibits Father From Taking Pregnant Wife Off Life Support
A Texas man whose 18-week pregnant wife has been on a ventilator for weeks has stated that she told him she would not want to be on life support. However, under state law, life-sustaining procedures cannot be removed from a pregnant woman even if she has an advance health care directive stating she does not want to be kept alive on a machine.

Student Sentenced for Trying to Hack MCAT Score
A student who paid hackers $6,000 to try to change his MCAT score has been sentenced to three months in prison. The student, who took the exam seven times between 2009 and 2012, also reportedly was preparing to submit fake graduate transcripts to employers.

Doctors’ Views on Hospice Care Influence Patients
Doctors who would choose hospice care for themselves are more likely to discuss such options with patients, according to a new study. A majority of physicians surveyed said they would choose hospice care if they were terminally ill. About half said they would wait until a patient had no more treatment options available before discussing hospice care.

Physician Accused of Unethical Study Has License Suspension Lifted
A New Jersey physician accused of administering high levels of Vitamin D supplements to disabled patients without their guardian’s consent has had a suspension on his license lifted. The state’s Division of Criminal Justice investigated the allegations, but did not file charges.

Family Fights to Keep Daughter on Life Support
The family of a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead following a tonsillectomy has obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her on life support.

Congress Prepared to Fix Medicare Payment Glitch
Congress is poised to permanently fix a flaw in the Sustainable Growth Rate that determines how much health care providers are reimbursed under Medicare. Since 2002, Congress has had to repeatedly pass legislation to temporarily prevent physician payments from being drastically cut automatically under the payment formula. Congress is expected to replace the flawed system with one that would provide reimbursement based on quality measures.

Backlash Over Opioid Threatens Sickle Cell Care
Concerns about opioids being over-prescribed have resulted in many sickle cell patients with chronic pain experiencing difficulty in obtaining needed treatment. According to a recent study, many sickle cell patients delay seeking treatment until their pain nears 9 on the 10 point pain scale and are often wrongly suspected of exaggerating their pain or abusing drugs.

Foreign-Educated Nurses Report Unequal Treatment In US Workplace
About 40% of foreign-educated nurses working in US hospitals report they receive inferior wages, benefits, or shift assignments compared to their American peers. One-third of respondents also reported they did not receive adequate orientation to life in the US or cultural differences they encounter at work.

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