Medical Tort Reform - When does it apply?

Medical Malpractice Austin Texas

Jan 8, 2013 — by jeff
Tags: Medical Malpractice

 

To determine whether a cause of action is a health care liability claim, we examine the underlying nature of the claim, and we are not bound by the form of the pleading. Diversicare Gen. Partner, Inc. v. Rubio, 185 S.W.3d 842, 847 (Tex. 2005). A health care liability claim contains three basic elements: (1) a physician or health care provider must be a defendant; (2) the claim or claims at issue must concern treatment, lack of treatment, or a departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care; and (3) the defendant's act or omission complained of must proximately cause the injury to the claimant. Tex. W. Oaks, 371 S.W.3d at 179--80. If the act or omission complained of is an inseparable or integral part of the rendition of health care, the claim alleges a departure from accepted standards of health care and is, therefore, a health care liability claim. Id. at 180; Rose, 156 S.W.3d at 544.

To satisfy the definition of a health care liability claim, the "professional or administrative services" implicated by a cause of action against a health care provider must be "directly related to health care." Section 74.001(a)(13); Tex. W. Oaks, 371 S.W.3d at 184. As stated above, Chapter 74 defines "health care" as "any act or treatment performed or furnished, or that should have been performed or furnished, by any health care provider for, to, or on behalf of a patient during the patient's medical care, treatment, or confinement." Section 74.001(a)(10). Thus, for claims relating to professional or administrative services to be health care liability claims, the services must directly relate to an act or treatment that was or should have been performed or furnished for, to, or on behalf of a patient. Id.; Tex. W. Oaks, 371 S.W.3d at 180-- 81.

Appellees' claims do not involve care or treatment that was rendered to any patient.

Instead, their claims relate to a dispute between Hendrick and them as to the scope of the practice of podiatry. The act giving rise to appellees' claims-Hendrick's decision to eliminate ankle privileges-was not an inseparable or integral part of a patient's care or treatment. Tex. W. Oaks, 371 S.W.3d at 180. Therefore, Hendrick's act of eliminating privileges was not "directly related to health care." Because the complained-of act was not "directly related to health care," appellee's claims are not health care liability claims under Chapter 74.

The Rose court explained, "When a plaintiff's credentialing complaint centers on the quality of the doctor's treatment, as it does here, the hospital's alleged acts or omissions in credentialing are inextricably intertwined with the patient's medical treatment and the hospital's provision of health care." Id. at 546. In Rose, the patient's negligent credentialing claim derived from the physician's alleged negligent treatment of her. Id. The court stated that, "without negligent treatment, a negligent credentialing claim could not exist." Id. The court concluded that the hospital's acts or omissions in credentialing the physician were an inseparable part of the treatment that was provided to the patient. Id. The court held that the patient's negligent credentialing claims against the hospital were health care liability claims under Chapter 74 because they involved a claimed departure from an accepted standard of health care. Id.

Hendrick Medical Center v. Texas Podiatric Medical Association, (Tex. App. - Eastland, 2012).

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