In recent years, the Texas healthcare environment has been the stomping ground for doctors alleged of committing serious malpractice, or in some cases, criminal acts. Coupled with the fact that Texas laws are lenient toward doctors, the question has been raised – “Does the Texas healthcare environment attract dangerous doctors?” That is the question this post will address, as well as offering patients information and support if they have experienced medical malpractice or negligence.
Dangerous Doctors in Texas: Example Cases
Over the past decade, the atmosphere in the Texas healthcare system has changed. A handful of doctors alleged to have committed medical malpractice, negligence, or criminal acts toward patients have caused a great deal of concern for the medical and legal communities, and of course, among patients. Three of the most striking examples of dangerous doctors in Texas include:
Stefan Konasiewicz – Originally a doctor in Minnesota, Dr. Konasiewicz fled to Texas after being reprimanded by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and being subject of several lawsuits. Once in Texas, he was allowed to practice medicine. He worked at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas when serious violations were noted. The violations were so severe that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) threatened to suspend their participation with Parkland if the hospital did not correct what was described as emergency care and infection control issues.
Christopher Duntsch – Once a neurosurgeon, Dr. Duntsch became the subject of criminal charges after one of his patients bled to death after a botched surgery. On trial, evidence showed a string of injuries and deaths linked to at least 30 botched surgeries performed by Duntsch. In February 2017, Duntsch was sentenced to life in prison.
Stephen Courtney – Also a surgeon, Dr. Courtney was the co-founder of Eminent Spine, a company designing and delivering surgical devices. Dr. Courtney is now the subject of several lawsuits claiming gross negligence and placing profit over patient care. It is alleged that the Eminent Spine devices are unnecessarily and improperly implanted in patients, and that Dr. Courtney himself installed his own hardware in patients – a grave violation in the standard of care. So far, Dr. Courtney has not been disciplined, and lawsuits are pending.
These are only three examples of a problem that could be labeled serial malpractice. Medical malpractice and negligence is a serious concern all across the U.S. Anyone who believes that they or a loved one have been injured due to medical malpractice or negligence should contact an attorney right away.
At Brown & Brothers, we have successfully managed medical malpractice and negligence cases involving the gamut of causes, injuries, and specializations. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Is the Texas Healthcare Environment Conducive to Malpractice?
It wouldn’t be fair to say that the healthcare environment in Texas encourages malpractice, but it is fair to say that Texas law certainly offers protections for doctors while making it difficult for patients to pursue justice. In terms of protecting doctors, Texas law allows the following:
- Hospitals are allowed to keep credentials of doctors confidential.
- The Texas Medical Board (TMB) cannot inspect (investigate) a doctor on its own, or revoke a license without “overwhelming evidence”.
- The TMB is not required to disclose cases of medical malpractice for doctors moving between states. In fact, they don’t even have to look into previous cases or allegations before allowing doctors to practice medicine in Texas.
- Doctors in Texas can continue to practice medicine while they are being investigated on claims of medical malpractice, negligence, or other wrongdoing.
In terms of Texas law making it difficult for patients to file lawsuits or pursue recovery against potentially dangerous doctors, the following is also true:
- It is up to patients to prove that a doctor was negligent. This can be difficult since patients have to get their medical records (which can be altered), are responsible for establishing the duty of care and standard of care, and are responsible for interviewing expert witnesses.
- Patients are required to prove that a hospital was intentionally negligent, or intentionally caused harm, in order to sue a hospital for a doctor’s actions. This often means that a patient has to prove that a hospital knew that wrongdoing was occurring and intentionally did nothing, or that the hospital set out to be negligent intentionally.
- Patients are limited in the amount they can pursue in a medical malpractice case to $250,000. Limiting the amount of recovery injured patients can pursue is akin to placing a monetary value on the life and health of an individual.
Why Patients Need to Know about Their Rights
In recent years, the climate of the entire U.S. healthcare system has shifted toward protecting doctors, which has subsequently resulted in questions of whether patient rights are being preserved. Every day, patients are seeking information about their rights, the responsibilities of doctors, and how to get help when healthcare goes awry.
We all hope that when we seek medical care our doctors will do everything in their power to diagnose, treat, and support us. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. When healthcare goes awry, it is important that you contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options. Contact Brown & Brothers today to explore your legal rights and discuss your case. Fill out our online form to get started in the pursuit of the justice you deserve.