An overview of medical malpractice in Texas

On behalf of Randall D. Moore at The Law Offices of Randall D. Moore, PLLC

Thousands of Texans seek medical care on a daily basis. An integral part of this is the trust that is bestowed upon those who provide such care. Patients literally put their lives in the hands of others and have the right and wish to know that they are getting the best treatment and care possible.

Sadly, there are times when this may not be the case, leaving people to deal with potentially serious injuries or even a wrongful death. In the face of a potential case of medical malpractice, it is important to understand the laws governing this area in the state of Texas so that you can take the proper steps to protect yourself or your loved ones.

How do I know if malpractice has occurred?

Proper identification of a medical error can be one of the most complicated parts of any such case. From a legal perspective, medical malpractice is defined as either the act or the lack of an act that would be considered in opposition to a logical standard of care. Medical errors can be made by any type of provider or facility and, therefore, medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed against hospitals, clinics, nurses, doctors and other parties.

Often at the crux of a medical negligence case is whether or not the standard of care was truly adhered to. The subjective nature of this determination makes working with an experienced attorney critical in these situations.

How often do medical errors happen?

In 2013, a study released data signifying that the rate of medical errors was high enough to rank them as the third leading cause of death in the United States, following only cancer and heart disease. The report states that between 210,000 and 400,000 people lose their lives nationwide each year due to acts of negligence on the part of healthcare providers.

Becker’s Hospital Review data from 2012 reported that more than 12,000 medical malpractice claimants received a total of $3.6 billion in payouts as part of case settlements.

Types of medical errors

A medical error can take many forms. The information provided from Becker’s Hospital Review detailed out the most common reasons for such claims in 2012, as follows:

  • Missed or erroneous diagnoses accounted for 33 percent of claims.
  • Surgical problems accounted for 24 percent of claims.
  • Situations involving treatments accounted for 18 percent of claims.
  • Errors related to obstetrics accounted for 11 percent of claims.
  • Medications were the subject of another four percent of claims.

For all cases that received payouts in 2012, 93 percent were paid from non-judgment settlements. Judgments were levied in only five percent of cases.

What should patients do?

Due to statutes of limitations, it is always advised that a person seek legal counsel as soon as a medical error is suspected. Waiting too long could prevent a legitimate claim from being filed simply because too much time had elapsed. Only a professional with experience in this area will be able to provide needed guidance on what may be a true case of malpractice and how best to proceed.