This is true for patients, visitors and staff, and the distinction is important because the requirements for proving medical liability differ from that which is needed to prove general liability. In the case of Reddic v. E. Texas Med. Ctr. Reg’l Health Care Sys., the Texas Supreme Court took on this very issue.
Plaintiff was a visitor who was injured when she fell in the lobby of the hospital. The key question was whether the claim was a health care liability claim under the state’s Medical Liability Act. Defense sought to prove that it was, and therefore should be dismissed because plaintiff failed to adhere to a portion of that law that requires an expert witness report to establish wrongdoing. Trial court disagreed, but the appeals court reversed. The Texas Supreme Court sided with the trial court, and put the case back on track for a jury trial on grounds of general negligence.
According to court records, plaintiff suffered a slip-and-fall injury on a mat that was located between the front desk and the main entrance of the hospital. Plaintiff sued on the basis of premises liability.
After trial court denied defendant hospital’s motion to dismiss on on grounds this was a medical liability case, appeals court reversed. In so doing, it cited provisions set forth in an earlier state supreme court decision that specified when a tort claim alleging safety standards violations could be based in health care liability. Among those provisions:
- Whether the alleged negligence happened while defense was carrying out tasks with the purpose of protecting patients.
- Whether injuries occurred in a place where patients could be while they were receiving care (such that defendant had obligation to protect those needing special and medical care).
- Whether plaintiff was in process of receiving or seeking health care.
- Whether plaintiff was providing or assisting in providing health care.
- Whether the alleged negligence stems from a safety standard arising from professional duties owed by a health care provider.
- Whether, if an instrumentality was involved, it was something used in the course of providing health care.
- Whether the alleged negligence happened while defendant was taking action or failing to take action necessary to comply with safety standard requirements as set forth by accrediting agencies or the government.
Appeals court decided that the case met these standards because the care of floor around an area patients may frequent throughout the day is indirectly related to a provision of health care, and this was enough to trigger the safety prong of the health care liability act.
State supreme court disagreed and reversed.
In explaining its reversal, supreme court pointed out that the state act requires that in order for a claim to be considered a matter of health care liability, there has to be more of a relationship to the provision of health care than that it arises from an incident that just happens to occur in the hospital. When analyzed this way, the facts of the underlying case, the court ruled, did not meet the standard.
If you have been injured in Fort Myers, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Reddic v. E. Texas Med. Ctr. Reg’l Health Care Sys., Oct. 30, 2015, Texas Supreme Court
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Prioleau v. KFC Inc. – “Mode of Operation” in Slip-and-Fall Lawsuits, Nov. 1, 2015, Fort Myers Slip-and-Fall Attorney