Articles Posted in Medical Device Injury

Most Texas medical malpractice cases require experts to prove causation. There are exceptions where a jury does not need an expert to decide causation. Those medical malpractice cases are limited to those cases where a jury can use its own experience and common sense to determine causation. For example, a jury will not need an expert to establish a causal connection when a doctor inadvertently leaves a wire in a woman’s breast.

Another example is an elderly plaintiff who sustained personal injury at a Texas nursing home after he fell while walking down a hall in the office and sustained serious brain injuries . The defendants moved to dismiss the case on the basis that the plaintiff failed to provide expert testimony. However, the Court denied the dismissal indicating that the medical provider’s failure to provide an escort or medical device to assist the plaintiff was within the realm of the jury’s common sense and general experience. Even the defendants’ expert testified that the plaintiff required an escort to prevent falling.

In order for the court to admit expert testimony, the expert must be qualified in the particular area and the admitted facts must support the expert opinion. For example, on Texas negligence claims against a physician or hospital, the expert should be a doctor who can testify on the alleged departure from accepted standards of care. The same logic applies to Texas dental malpractice claims or Texas podiatrist malpractice claims . A nurse is generally not qualified to render an opinion on the medical causation of injury unless that opinion is used in conjunction with another doctor’s opinion.

The most difficult aspect of proving the San Antonio and greater Texas medical malpractice case is proving causation through expert testimony.

There have been incredibly vast changes in the law of medical malpractice. In the late 1970s, the Texas legislature was tasked with remedying the “medical malpractice insurance crisis” which allegedly was the product of an increase in the number of malpractice claims and increasing frequency of accusations against doctors. In 1995, the Legislature passed several bills to address the issue of lawsuit abuse and additional tort reform measures in 2003 resulting in what is infamously known as Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC).

Today, medical malpractice in San Antonio and Texas possesses its own specialized body of rules that are different from other types of traditional San Antonio and greater Texas personal injury cases.

In 2009, there were several seminal cases in the area of Texas medical malpractice and Texas nursing home abuse litigation .

In Dallas, the patient brought an action against both the physician and the physician’s assistant (PA) for their failure to follow up on a mass detected on a mammogram. It is important to note that the expert report on behalf of the plaintiff has to address the specific standard of care for both the doctor and the PA.

In a Texas dental malpractice case out of Corpus Christi, the dentist allowed her assistant to remove the crown and grind the plaintiff’s teeth. The dentist was alleged to have committed malpractice by giving work to a non-dentist and keeping unsuitable dental records.

Although Texas reforms have put the breaks on a lot of Texas medical malpractice claims , there are still several great examples of medical negligence cases which can be brought by a Texas medical malpractice lawyer.

In one case, a patient fell from a hospital bed and alleged several acts of negligence. After initially being dismissed for failure to file a timely medical report, the Texas Supreme Court reversed and held that the claim that the claim the bed had been negligently installed was not considered a health care liability claim. Nursing home negligence cases require extensive and aggressive litigation.

In another case, plaintiff’s daughter was sexually assaulted by a nurse’s aide, and the plaintiff sued two nursing homes for failure to file misconduct reports as required under the law. The plaintiff claimed the two (2) year statute of limitations for reporting medical malpractice was tolled on account of the daughter’s mental incapacity. The Appellate Court held that the failure to report misconduct was a health care liability claim and the tolling of the statute of limitations was inapplicable.

There have been several San Antonio nursing home personal injuries which merit comment.

The executrix of the estate of a San Antonio nursing home resident sued 2 doctors and the nursing home for medical malpractice. The alleged victim was a 72 year old woman who developed a staph infection and sepsis after her back surgery. The appellate division dismissed the case on the basis of an inadequate expert report. The Court specifically cited failure to link the nursing home’s failure to tell the physicians of drainage issues with the woman’s subsequent death from sepsis.

In a Texas pharmaceutical drug injury and medical malpractice case, a woman sued Eli Lilly claiming that the company’s drug warnings were so defective as to contribute to his suicide. Texas law is instructive on this point. The plaintiff has to prove that the doctor would have changed their decision to prescribe a particular drug if the doctor was aware of an alternative drug warning. It is the pharmaceutical company’s duty to warn the doctors (known as learned intermediaries) as opposed to direct warnings to the consumers. Ultimately, doctors are aware of the risks of the drug and can make the consumer patient aware of those risks. The 5th Circuit did indicate that the read and heed presumption (i.e. the patient will follow a warning if one is given) was not applicable to failure to warn product liability cases against pharmaceutical companies involving a learned intermediary. Ultimately, the plaintiff failed to prove causation because he did not adequately show the doctor would have changed his mind given an alternative warning.

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC) 82.008 creates a rebuttable presumption of no liability in certain Texas product liability personal injury cases. However, section 82.008(d) makes exceptions for certain manufacturing flaws o defects from the rebuttable presumption.

If the seller has properly demonstrated the presumption, then it is up to the Texas personal injury lawyer to demonstrate that the standard / regulation was not strong enough to safeguard the public from unreasonable risk of injury or damage. The other option is to prove that the manufacturer, either before or after he commenced marketing the product, kept information or misrepresented information to the federal government. Such withholding or misrepresentation of information would have altered the federal government’s creation of a proper safety standard.

In almost every Texas products liability case, the defense attorney premises his defense on his client’s compliance with government standards. Counsel will claim that ultimately the government gave the seller a de facto seal of approval. In response, the Texas personal injury lawyer will counter that the federal government’s standard has always been a minimum floor and is often outdated and incapable of creating safety.

In a Texas pharmaceutical injury or medical device lawsuit, where the lawsuit centers on a failure to warn, TX Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC) creates a presumption of no liability if the warnings associated with the product were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) .

There are several ways a Texas medical device injury lawyer can overcome the presumption of no liability, First, he can show that the manufacturer deceived the FDA by omitting or distorting required information needed for pre-market government endorsement and licensing. Any deception in the withholding or distortion of information must be material to the Texas serious personal injury claim and the element of causation is present.

Another way to overcome the presumption of no liability is to demonstrate continued sale of the drug or medical device after the FDA mandated market removal or no longer endorsed the product.

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