A few months ago, the parents brought an 11-day-old infant to a Marble Falls medical clinic for a two-week screening. A medical assistant heated up a gel pack to help with blood sampling. When the medical assistant placed the pack on the baby’s foot, the newborn immediately started crying. However, the medical assistant continued taking samples and promptly left to get a doctor. After examining the infant, the doctor explained to the parents the baby had a second-degree burn on its foot caused by the gel pack.
The family is trying to hold the clinic accountable for their child’s injury, but have not been very successful in filing for medical malpractice.
Why is It Difficult to Sue for Medical Malpractice in Texas?
Unfortunately, medical malpractice cases are more difficult to try today than they were 20 years ago because of Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This chapter outlines what an injured patient needs for a medical liability claim, including:
- Providing a 60-day notice to the medical provider notifying them about the medical malpractice lawsuit
- Proving the doctor breached or violated a standard of care the patient
- Acquiring an expert report from another doctor or an expert in that particular medical field
Moreover, injured patients may not always receive the amount of damages they deserve. While the cost of economic damages, such as the cost of medical bills and lost wages, is usually fully covered, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000. This means that if a patient becomes paralyzed, their medical bills and lost income are likely fully covered after a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. However, even if a jury rewards them millions of dollars for damages that cover the emotional distress paralysis can cause, the patient will not receive more than $250,000 in non-economic damages.
This is essentially what has made filing for medical practice so difficult for the burned newborn’s family. It’s safe to say that holding hospitals accountable for their wrongdoings should not be this difficult in Texas and changes need to be made to the medical malpractice system.
Aaron Allison is an Austin medical malpractice attorney who fights for those injured due to medical errors. We have been helping medical malpractice victims and others injured due to negligence since 1978.