By James Girards
Most folks have become aware of how unfair the current medical malpractice system is for injured patients. But, few understand the nuts and bolts of how patients get jerked around by a hospital/insurance company system for complaining about a needless injury. For those interested in learning more, I invite you to download the documents available here related to an appeal we successfully defended [August 30, 2013] related to one of our Texas medical malpractice clients in the Texarkana Court of Appeals. You might also - as we did - add the Christus Health System to the Patient's Rights Hall of Shame as a result of what it is doing here.
So, here's the story: a well-respected healthcare executive goes to Christus because he is dizzy and has blurry vision. Imaging shows abnormal anatomy in an artery at the base of his skull. So, the doctor decides to do some twisting and jerking maneuvers of his neck anyway, which caused damage to this artery and resulted in a brain stem stroke. The hospital refuses to accept responsibility so the man is forced to sue to get justice. He files three medical expert reports showing that you don't jerk someone's neck around with a known blood vessel abnormality in the neck. [NOTE: this is where any doctor reading this is saying "duh!!"]. Thanks to the Texas legislature, you have to spend thousands of dollars on medical expert fees just to state the obvious. So, what is Christus Health System's response? They ask the trial court to kick the guy out of court. The trial court correctly says "no way." So, Christus files an appeal. In the attached opinion the Texarkana Court of Appeals says "no way."
To summarize: 1) don't jerk a man's neck around when he has a blood vessel abnormality in the neck because it can [and did] cause a stroke, 2) thousands of dollars spent on patient's side to get medical expert reports to the trial court to show no. 1) is true, 3) hospital spends thousands of dollars in lawyer fees to ask trial court to dismiss the case even though the merits are obvious, 4) hospital spends thousands more dollars to appeal trial court's denial of the request. [The reader might note that there are 140 pages in this download - all to say that you don't jerk a man's neck around when he has a known abnormal blood vessel in his neck.] The end result is many months and many thousands of dollars have been wasted for no reason whatsoever. Chistus will now have the right to waste thousands more and delay many more months asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision and then appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. When all that has been exhausted, then we get to actually start the case and get some justice for Mr. Curtis.
And this, my friends, is just one example of how the Texas legislator broke the tort system in 2003 by stacking the deck in favor of insurance companies and against regular folks. If you'd like to do something about it contact your legislator and ask him or her to make the system fair for patients and no longer stacked against them. In responsible society, when you break something you fix it or pay for it. The rule is no different for a hospital or an insurance company.
For more information or questions about medical malpractice cases contact Girards Law Firm at 214-346-9529
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