The Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals (“Texas Appellate Court “) held in its October 12, 2021 opinion that the Texas medical malpractice plaintiffs’ expert’s report, which was required by section 74.351 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, “does not contain sufficient information within its four corners to (1) inform the Hospital of the specific conduct called into question and (2) provide a basis for the trial court to conclude that the Cornett Parties’ claims against the Hospital have merit.”
On September 26, 2016, Delaney Cornett and her twin sister were born prematurely at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center. The twins were placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Delaney Cornett died less than one month after she was born.
The parents alleged in their Texas medical malpractice wrongful death and survival lawsuit that Delaney may have had a pseudomonas infection as early as October 16, 2016, on which date she was placed on a breathing machine instead of being placed on antibiotics. On October 22, 2016, a culture was taken from Delaney and she was started on general antibiotics. The culture later revealed that Delaney had a pseudomonas infection. She died on October 23, 2016, as a result of septic shock.
The plaintiffs sued the medical center where Delaney was born alleging negligence by the medical center’s nurses. The parents also sued two doctors alleging medical negligence.
In an attempt to meet the expert-report requirement under section 74.351 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the parents served the defendant hospital with a report authored by Dr. Dale Bull. Dr. Bull susbequently provided an amended report, stating, in part, “The standard of care for nursing in hospitals, especially in units with patients like Delaney, is to follow strict procedures to prevent the spread of infection. The standard of care for grooming related to fingernails.”
The Texas Appellate Court stated: “We presume for the sake of argument that Dr. Bull stated the standard of care for the Hospital with sufficient specificity and that Dr. Bull specified the following standard of care for the Hospital: The Hospital’s employees and agents must follow strict procedures to prevent the spread of infection, and the Hospital’s employees and agents must follow section 1b(2) of the Hospital’s dress code policy. Even under these presumptions, Dr. Bull never specifies in his report how the Hospital breached this standard of care. Dr. Bull never states that any nurse at the Hospital committed an act that violated strict procedures to prevent the spread of infection. Br. Bull does not say that the fingernails of any nurse at the Hospital ever violated section 1b(2) of the Hospital’s dress code policy. Dr Bull says that “[f]ailing to adhere to established procedures causes the spread of infections.” But, in making this general statement, Dr. Bull does not say that any Hospital employee or agent failed to adhere to established procedures or that any Hospital employee or agent caused the spread of infections.”
The Texas Appellate Court held: “Dr. Bull’s amended expert report does not contain sufficient information within its four corners to (1) inform the Hospital of the specific conduct called into question and (2) provide a basis for the trial court to conclude that the Cornett Parties’ claims against the Hospital have merit.”
Source C-HCA d/b/a Clear Lake Regional Medical Center v. Cornett, No. 14-19-00580-CV.
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