Live in Texas and need medical care? Be very afraid if you’re misdiagnosed and want justice
When Connie Spears arrived at a Christus Santa Rosa hospital emergency room in 2010 with severe leg pain, she told medical staff members about her history of blood clots. Doctors sent her home with a far less serious diagnosis.
Nearly three years later, Ms. Spears contends that she is a victim not only of a medical mistake but also of Texas’ tort reform laws.
The huge tort reform package that Texas lawmakers approved in 2003 capped noneconomic damages that a plaintiff could receive for medical malpractice at $250,000 and set a ‘willful and wanton’ negligence standard — interpreted as intentionally harming the patient — for emergency care. It also required plaintiffs to find a practicing or teaching physician in the same specialty as the defendant to serve as an expert witness and to demonstrate evidence of negligence before a trial. Under the strengthened rules, if plaintiffs fail to produce adequate expert reports within 120 days of filing their cases, they are liable for defendants’ legal fees.