A Clear Lake (Houston) orthopedic surgeon and hospital have recently been sued for alleged medical malpractice in connection with a 2010 hip replacement surgery. The suit, while very short on details, alleges that the defendants failed to timely and properly monitor and treat the patient’s condition, failed to timely and properly diagnose her, failed to “properly position, protect and prevent harm to the nerves which enervate the left leg of the Plaintiff during” the surgery, failed to properly review the results of diagnostic testing and failed to provide appropriate follow up care.
These acts, the patient claims, caused her serious, irreversible and disabling neurological injuries to her leg, including a “drop foot” and sciatic nerve injury. She sues for pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, disfigurement and loss of earnings.
All of the defendants have answered the suit, and have denied the patient’s allegations.
The patient will face an uphill battle due to “tort reform” legislation governing Texas medical malpractice litigation. For instance, her case will be dismissed if she does not, within 120 days of the filing of the suit, produce reports from qualified experts supporting her allegations of malpractice and damages resulting from it. Any non-economic damages (pain and suffering, disfigurement, impairment) she is eventually awarded by the jury will be capped at $250,000. And any medical expenses she is awarded will be limited to that paid or owed. This is a relatively new, but major, development in Texas law.
For example, assume a victim of medical malpractice, as a result of the substandard care, has to be treated at a hospital, and that the hospital sends the patient a bill in the amount of $10,000. Also assume that the patient pays a $100 co-pay, that his health insurance company pays $2,000 and the hospital writes off the remaining $7,900 of the bill. Until several years the patient, if he wins his lawsuit, could recover the full $10,000. Now, his recovery would be limited to $2,100.
Texas medical malpractice litigation is a minefield. Call us if you need our help in navigating through it.