A Texas medical malpractice lawsuit filed against a surgeon who was on probation has been resolved for $9 million. According to media reports, a jury determined the patient was entitled to as much as $43 million in damages. Disagreements over the jury’s ruling continue, but the award will reportedly not be appealed.
Read on to learn more about this Texas case, as well as just how dangerous doctors on probation can be. If you have questions about medical malpractice and your legal rights, contact Brown & Brothers to learn more.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Information
East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd were included in the lawsuit filed in 2016 – two years after the alleged injurious medical care. According to the lawsuit, Boyd was on probation by the Texas Medical Board, but was allowed to continue practicing at East Texas Medical Center. In 2014, a patient presented to the hospital for treatment of stomach pain, vomiting, and suspected gallstones. The treatment he received from Boyd resulted in the need for a liver transplant and caused other “incapacitating injuries”.
During the trial, testimony indicated that Boyd erroneously diagnosed the patient with an “anatomical abnormality”, which would make it impossible to remove gallstones from the bile duct. The patient was placed in a medically-induced coma for over a month. Eventually, the hospital sought a second opinion, and the new doctor rejected the previous diagnosis and performed surgery without incident. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.
A jury ruled that the hospital was grossly negligent, and should not have allowed Boyd to continue practicing while on probation. By the hospital’s own bylaws, doctors who are on probation are automatically suspended. Boyd was placed on probation in 2013 after several deficiencies were noted by the Texas Medical Board. Boyd was found to be deficient in diagnosing another patient, failing to adequately document patient records, inaccurately diagnosing a patient, and performing medically unnecessary procedures.
Attorneys involved in the case argued that these injuries could have been avoided. Further, that allowing a doctor to continue practicing while on probation was a “tragedy waiting to happen”. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and determined that he should receive more than $43 million in damages. East Texas Medical Center has since resolved the case for $9 million. The hospital continues to disagree with the outcome of the case.
How Dangerous are Doctors on Probation?
Doctors are placed on probation after careful and thorough review indicates they have acted outside their duties and standards of care. While state medical boards and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) keep records, patients often do not have access to information about licensure status, violations, or sanctions.
To get a better idea of how real and dangerous the problem is, the Safe Patient Project examined doctors across California who were on probation, but still practicing. Their report, which was released in March 2016, indicated a host of dangerous behaviors on the part of practicing doctors. The offenses ranged from drug abuse to sexual misconduct, careless mistakes and fatal errors.
Since 1990, 15 percent of the 1.25 million doctors licensed across the United States have been the subject of a medical malpractice suit or other disciplinary action. That 15 percent accounts for more than 200,000 doctors that have paid out a suit, or been sanctioned by a medical board.
Perhaps the scariest part of the situation is the fact that patients do not have access to this information. If a doctor is licensed and practicing, patients must rely on general information to determine whether the doctor is safe. Patients may not be aware that they are being treated by a doctor who is on probation, or who has been sanctioned for negligence or criminal behavior in the past.
Part of the goal of the Safe Patient Project is transparency. Patients should have the right to be informed about the doctors that are available to them. Patients should be able to access important information before making decisions, and doctors should be required to tell patients if they are on probation.
Protect Your Legal Rights as a Patient
As a patient, you put your trust in your doctor. You trust that he or she will act in your best interests to diagnose and treat you according to the standards of care. When medical mistakes occur, it can be difficult to determine exactly what your legal rights are, and what you should do.
The best first step that you can take in protecting your legal rights is to discuss your situation and concerns with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice laws are complicated, and the guidance of an attorney can help you determine exactly what happened, and what your options are.
At Brown & Brothers, we have litigated numerous medical malpractice cases, and we have the knowledge and skills you need. Our attorneys are compassionate, and will listen to your concerns and find the best options for you and your family. To find out more, fill out our online form and schedule a free consultation.