A Texas medical malpractice jury awarded $43.32 million against a hospital and a doctor at the hospital who had been placed on probation by the Texas Medical Board, because the doctor allegedly misdiagnosed and mistreated a hospital patient, causing the plaintiff to suffer severe harm.
The Texas medical malpractice verdict included $18.57 million in compensatory damages for medical care and expenses, past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of earning capacity, as well as $25 million in punitive damages against the defendant hospital for its retention and lack of supervision of the defendant doctor, who was on probation by the Texas Medical Board at the time he treated the plaintiff and whose improper care caused the plaintiff to suffer the loss of his quality of life and the loss of his ability to provide for his family. The Texas medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant hospital is 90% responsible for the compensatory damages award, and the defendant doctor is responsible for the balance of the compensatory damages award.
The Underlying Facts
The 61-year-old plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital in April 2014 with complaints of vomiting and stomach pain. The defendant doctor treated the plaintiff in the hospital and misdiagnosed the plaintiff with an anatomical abnormality that would preclude the plaintiff from having surgery to remove the bile duct stones that were the cause of his symptoms.
The plaintiff was placed in a medically induced coma for more than one month during which time he was effectively abandoned by the defendants, according to his Texas medical malpractice lawsuit. The defendant hospital ultimately sought a second opinion regarding the plaintiff’s condition, which determined that the defendant doctor’s diagnosis was incorrect and that the plaintiff was an appropriate candidate for corrective surgery. The surgery was subsequently performed successfully.
The gross negligence contention against the defendant hospital was based on the hospital allowing the defendant doctor to treat patients at the hospital, including the plaintiff, in violation of its own policies and bylaws that require that a doctor who is on probation to be automatically suspended. The plaintiff’s Texas medical malpractice lawyer argued to the jury that such failure by the defendant hospital placed patients in extreme risk, which the jury found in awarding exemplary (punitive) damages. The plaintiff alleged that had the defendant doctor been suspended by the hospital, the doctor would not have treated the plaintiff and the plaintiff would not have suffered the severe harm due to the defendant doctor’s medical negligence.
The plaintiff’s Texas medical malpractice lawyer stated after the verdict was rendered, “Hospitals have a supreme duty to provide safe and effective care to patients, and that duty must come before everything else. By allowing a dangerous doctor, who had lost his hospital privileges to continue to treat patients, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Source Billy Pierce v. East Texas Medical Center, Dr. Gary Boyd, and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C, 241st District Court in Smith County.
Texas Medical Board Action
From the Texas Medical Board website:
Action Date: 11/18/2016
Description: ON NOVEMBER 18, 2016, AGREED ORDER DATED JULY 15, 2013 WAS TERMINATED DUE TO COMPLETION OF ALL REQUIREMENTS.
Action Date: 07/15/2013
Description: ON JULY 15, 2013, THE BOARD ENTERED A FINAL ORDER PUBLICLY REPRIMANDING GARY D. BOYD, M.D. … THE BOARD FOUND DR. BOYD SUBJECTED A PATIENT TO NONTHERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES, FAILED TO MEET THE STANDARD OF CARE, WAS NEGLIGENT IN PERFORMING MEDICAL SERVICES AND KEPT INADEQUATE MEDICAL RECORDS. DR. BOYD HAS 20 DAYS FROM THE SERVICE OF THE ORDER TO FILE A MOTION FOR REHEARING. NO MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED WITH THE BOARD, THEREFORE THE ORDER DATED JUNE 14, 2013 IS EFFECTIVE JULY 15, 2013.
Action Date: 11/15/2010
Description: ON NOVEMBER 15, 2010, A FORMAL COMPLAINT WAS FILED BY THE BOARD.
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