A family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Houston hospital and doctor alleging a 32-year-old man, and father of three, died because staff was more concerned about getting paid than saving his life.
Fighting a fever, on December 26, 2013 the man went to a clinic affiliated with Doctor’s Hospital. There he was injected with an antibiotic and sent home. When his condition worsened, his girlfriend called an ambulance, and the man was taken to Doctor’s Hospital. It was later confirmed that the patient was having an allergic reaction to the medication and went into anaphylactic shock; the medical examiner confirmed that was the cause of death.
Attorneys for the plaintiff said that despite EMT’s reporting that the man’s throat was swelling, he was running a fever, and his heart rate was 160, it took 26 minutes from the time he arrived at the hospital before he was ever seen. The family said 14 minutes later he was unresponsive, and still was not seen by a doctor. According to the lawsuit, it took 45 minutes from the time of arrival before actual treatment began, but by then it was too late. Why the delay? The suit claims that the hospital staff wasted precious time gathering insurance and payment information from his girlfriend. The lawsuit seeks $1 million and takes aim at the state’s damages cap.
There is no value that can be placed on a life, yet in 2003 Texas voters decided that $500,000 was a reasonable limit to what a plaintiff should receive when a life is lost due to medical negligence. Every life is treated the same; there is no evaluation of age, life expectancy, or any other differentiating factor. With that vote, wrongdoers were given a pass to escape accountability and the value of a human life was minimized. Victims are now being denied fair compensation so insurance companies and big businesses can retain their profits. When the laws are rigged against the victims, the taxpayers pick up the balance of a burden through Medicare, Medicaid, and assistance programs.
Attorneys are well aware of these laws that restrict a victim’s access to justice. I am not certain the general public realizes the impact of damages caps on everyday people. That is why I actively blog about these issues at this location and many others. Without holding healthcare professionals accountable, they are more inclined to focus on generating profits than on providing the safest degree of care.
The threat of a large medical malpractice award is a strong deterrent against bad doctors and keeps us safer. Holding them responsible for full and fair compensation forces them to consider safety in the context of its effect on profits. Without these restrictive laws, if you or your loved is maimed or killed by a medical mistake, there are no limits to how much money you can recover. You submit your case and damages to a jury and the jury decides how much your loss is worth. Simply put, the court system is about justice; it is about fairness; it is about you, your precious family members, your rights and theirs. Tort reform should be repealed, not only in Texas, but all states.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.