Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

A Dallas jury recently rendered a verdict for $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages against Boston Scientific Corporation. The case involved a defective Obtryx sling implanted in the plaintiff to treat urinary leakage. The punitive damages finding was immediately reduced to $11 million pursuant to a Texas tort reform law that protects grossly negligent defendants by limiting punitive damages to two times the economic damages. Boston Scientific and indicated that they plan to appeal.

The case of Salazar v. Lopez is the third jury trial that Boston Scientific has faced. The first two were tried in Massachusetts and resulted in defense verdicts. Venue is obviously very important in these cases. There are several transvaginal mesh products which are commonly used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The seven manufacturers are facing thousands of claims filed by women who allege that the defects in the mesh products were known but not disclosed by the manufacturers.

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Last year CMS quit reporting life-threatening conditions acquired by patients during hospital stays. CMS has now announced that they will resume posting data on their website regarding eight hospital-acquired conditions including when foreign objects are left in patients’ bodies and when patients are given the wrong type of blood. Having this information available is pivotal as otherwise the hospital with a rash of events will argue that each event is an isolated, unique event rather than being part of an ongoing pattern that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, some hospitals have shown that they are more committed to covering up medical mistakes than to correcting their mistakes and they need the legal community to encourage them to do the right thing.

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The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recently recommended that lawmakers pass a law revoking the licenses of nursing homes that have three serious violations within a two-year period. Changes to medical malpractice laws have made it more difficult for plaintiff’s lawyers to effectively police nursing homes thereby destroying the incentive of some nursing homes to render quality medical care. According to State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, of the state’s 1200 nursing homes seven of the worst nursing homes would be shut down under a “three-strikes” law. Hopefully such a law would encourage Texas nursing homes to comply with minimum standards.

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Modern technology has given us the hazards of texting while driving and now sexting during surgery. A Seattle anesthesiologist was recently suspended for sexting and exchanging sexually explicit messages during surgery. The investigation revealed that he had sent sexually explicit pictures of himself and texts during multiple procedures including Cesarean deliveries, pediatric appendectomies, epidurals, tubal ligations, cardiac-probe insertions.

The ability of modern cellular phones to send text messages has given rise to texting while driving, a practice considered by many to be more dangerous than drinking while driving. The ability of cell phones to text pictures has also given rise to sexual harassment in the form of unwanted and unwelcome sexts in the workplace.

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The parents of new physician Dr. Jennifer Sidari of West Pittston have reportedly brought a wrongful death medical malpractice claim against Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center alleging that the hospital failed to properly diagnose and treat an easily diagnosable, treatable and entirely correctable blood clot which ultimately lead to her death. One cannot help but have sympathy for the needless loss of life and the suffering of her family.

It is not uncommon to hear doctors, hospitals and other members of the medical community argue that here are too many medical malpractice claims and that there should be no medical malpractice liability for medical mistakes made in good faith. Yet when members of the medical community are the victims of medical malpractice they continue to avail themselves of the laws which they so often criticize.

It seems that a bad lawsuit continues to be one filed by someone else. Perhaps the medical community should accept the fact that the medical malpractice laws sometimes serve a legitimate purpose.

The Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School recently published a study that conflicts with many commonly held beliefs regarding medical malpractice. The summary conclusions of the study are:

-Few injured patients file claims or lawsuits; experts agree that when cases are filed, they are not


The Texas Supreme Court recently denied the request of Rio Grande Valley neurosurgeon Dr. Madhavan Pisharodi to halt the peer review process which he alleges is abusive and retaliatory. Dr. Pisharodi is accused of destroying and falsifying a patients’ records at the Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, Texas. State 197th District Judge Migdalia Lopez denied Dr. Pisharodi an injunction and the 13th Court of Appeals affirmed the Trial Court. The Texas Supreme Court denied the petition for review reaffirming the peer review process.

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The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled in Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. v. Palit that when a health care provider fails to provide proper safety and security for its’ employees the failure is governed by the Texas Medical Liability Act(TMLA). A psychiatric nurse was provided inadequate assistance and protection by her employer while trying to restrain a violent psychiatric patient and was injured. The nurse filed a negligence claim against her employer. The employer, Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., moved to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the nurse had failed to comply with the TMLA requirement for the filing of a medical malpractice claim. The Trial Court predictably denied the motion to dismiss since the employee was not a patient, the employer was not providing medical care to the employee, and there were no allegations of medical malpractice. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Texas Supreme Court reversed holding that the employee’s allegation of inadequate security and safety was a healthcare liability claim governed by the TMLA.

It appears that the Texas Supreme Court is going to consider any legal claim against any healthcare provider to be a medical malpractice claim governed by the protections of the Texas Medical Liability Act(TMLA).

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The Texas Supreme Court has held that a properly drafted expert report, as required by the Texas Medical Liability Act, asserting the liability of a nurse was sufficient to support the liability of the nurses’ employer.

The Plaintiff, Cherie Potts, was admitted to Christus St. Catherine’s Hospital where she alleged that she was sexually assaulted by nurse Les Hardin. Nurse Les Hardin worked for a staffing service, Certified EMS. Potts submitted expert reports as required by Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 74.351 addressing the breaches of the applicable standards. The reports did not directly address the vicarious liability of Certified EMS for its’ employee, Les Hardin.

The Texas Supreme Court held that the expert report addressing the liability of the nurse was sufficient to support the vicarious liability of the employer even though not specifically mentioned.

A doctor examined a suicidal patient and determined that she did not meet the standard for involuntary hospitalization for psychiatric care and released her. Three days later she committed suicide by gunshot wound to the head. Her sons sued Dr. Rodriguez-Escobar alleging that he was negligent in failing to involuntarily commit their mother. A jury found against Dr. Rodriguez-Escobar and awarded $200,000 in damages. Dr. Rodriguez-Escobar appealed the jury verdict and the Thirteenth Court of Appeals affirmed.

At the Texas Supreme Court Dr. Rodriguez-Escobar did not challenge the jury’s finding that he was negligent but asserted that he had immunity under Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 571.019(b). The Texas Supreme Court ruled that there was no evidence that Dr. Rodriguez-Escobar’s failure to diagnose and commit Goss proximately caused her death and reversed the Thirteenth Court of Appeals and rendered a verdict in Defendant’s favor.

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