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Texas Supreme Court Rules on Sufficiency of Expert Report in Medical Malpractice Case

Texas medical malpractice claims must meet certain requirements in order to continue in court. In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a decision concerning a plaintiff’s requirement to submit an expert report in a medical malpractice case.In that case, a woman had cataract surgery on her left eye. Before the surgery began, a nurse anesthetist administered anesthesia by injecting anesthetic into the space behind the globe of her eye. The woman alleged that the nurse negligently inserted the needle into her left optic nerve, causing her permanent nerve damage and vision loss.

The woman sued the nurse and his employer. In support of her claim, she submitted an expert report, which she later amended. The expert stated that he believed that the woman suffered an injury to the left optic nerve as a result of the nurse’s administration of anesthesia. The expert believed that the nurse was negligent in part by damaging the woman’s left optic nerve by sticking it with the needle.

The trial court and the appeals court found the expert report was deficient because it made conclusory statements. However, on appeal, Texas’ Supreme Court found that although the expert’s statement that the anesthetic block should be administered “in the proper manner” was conclusory, the report as a whole was not deficient. The report stated specifically that the nurse breached the standard of care by sticking the optic nerve with the needle while administering the block. Therefore, the report clearly referenced the defendant’s allegedly negligent conduct. The Court explained that although the defendants may argue that inserting the needle into the optic nerve was not necessarily a breach of the standard of care, that is merely a difference in opinion that would need to be resolved by the court as the case continued. As a result, the Court reversed the previous decision, allowing the case to continue.

Expert Reports in Texas Medical Malpractice Claims

Under the Texas Medical Liability Act, a claimant must serve an expert report on each party against whom a health care liability claim is asserted. Under current law, the report must be served within 120 days of the date the defendant’s original answer is filed. If a report is found to be deficient, the court can grant one extension of 30 days to allow the claimant to fix the deficiency. The purpose of the requirement is to show that an expert supports the merits of the lawsuit, in order to reduce frivolous litigation. The report must inform the defendant of the specific conduct at issue and provide a basis for the court to conclude that the claims have merit.

Contact a San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured, contact a San Antonio medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Carabin & Shaw was founded 25 years ago to fight for the rights of accident victims. We stand up for victims against insurance companies, and we will take a case to trial and beyond if an insurance company refuses to honor or resolve your claim. We have over 200 years of combined experience in personal injury law, and we stand ready to help our clients find solutions to the challenges that arise after a serious accident. Call us at 1-800-862-1260 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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