Home Medical Malpractice Jury awards $8M in suit against Texas Health Resources hospital

Jury awards $8M in suit against Texas Health Resources hospital

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File photo.

File photo.

File photo

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth may have to pay the family of a woman at least a portion of $8.3 million after a jury determined the hospital was at fault for brain damage she suffered during a surgery.

The jury awarded $8.3 million in its verdict this week. But how much the family will actually receive, and from whom, hasn’t been decided. A ruling from Tarrant County Probate Court 2, where the case went to trial, will determine that.

John Davis, identified by court documents as the guardian of his wife, Angela Davis, sued the hospital and an anesthesiology practice for medical malpractice after Angela “sustained severe and permanent brain damage and other significant injuries” as a result of a medication error when she underwent anesthesia, according to the lawsuit.

Mark Sudderth, one of John and Angela Davis’ attorneys, said the brain damage has left Angela paralyzed. The anesthesiologist injected tranexamic acid — a medication used to control bleeding — into her spine instead of a spinal anesthetic, attorneys said.

Sudderth said the jury found Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth to be 65% responsible and Sundance Anesthesia, the anesthesiology practice which was contracted to provide services at the hospital, to be 35% responsible, but no rulings have been entered by the court.

Sudderth expects the hospital to claim it shouldn’t have to pay 35% of the recovery awarded by the jury because of that verdict. He plans to argue the hospital should be responsible for 100% of the recovery because the jury answered no to questions about whether employees of Sundance Anesthesia were negligent.

Sudderth said that if the court rules that Sundance Anesthesia is not responsible for at least part of that 35% of the recovery awarded, up to about $2.9 million, John Davis and Angela Davis won’t get that portion of the money awarded by the jury.

Sundance Anesthesia could not be contacted for comment.

Angela Davis’ other attorney, Brian Butcher, said she is unable to communicate in any way other than blinking her eyes and grunting as a result of the mistake. She cannot feed herself and has to have someone taking care of her all the time.

Before the operation, Angela Davis was a Fort Worth parole officer.

The lawsuit accused the Texas Health hospital, Sundance Anesthesia, and several directors and employees of Sundance of negligence that caused the injury to Angela Davis during an elective hip surgery on May 7, 2014.

In an emailed statement, Texas Health Resources, the nonprofit healthcare system that operates the hospital, said, “We acknowledge Ms. Davis has suffered a significant and devastating injury as the result of preventable human error. We are so sorry for her suffering.

“We believe we had proper safety policies and governance in place, but no policy can prevent human error by people contracted to provide care at the hospital,” Texas Health Resources’ statement continued. “While we understand the jury’s decision in light of the evidence they had, we continue to explore our legal options at this time.”

Sudderth said that, if Texas Health Resources appeals, he expects the hospital to argue that there was not enough evidence in the case to assign responsibility to the hospital. If the hospital makes that appeal, Sudderth said he may ask a higher court to review the decision by Probate Court 2 to throw out the question to jurors about whether the Davis family was owed recovery for gross negligence and punitive damages.

The lawsuit alleged that the hospital and contracted doctors and employees were negligent and they failed to comply with the hospital’s standards of care and administrative standards of care. It said they failed to develop and implement policies to make sure patients like Davis would be safe and did not exercise reasonable care “in formulating and enforcing the rules, policies and procedures that govern medical staff and other personnel” at the hospital.

It also said the hospital and other defendants failed to “properly evaluate, train, monitor, and/or supervise” the anesthesiologist, who was employed by Sundance Anesthesia and working at the hospital.

Angela and John Davis’ attorneys said an expert testified that the hospital was supposed to have written procedures to prevent medication mixups like this from happening, according to Butcher and Sudderth. The anesthesiologist said there were no such written procedures and the hospital confirmed it during the trial, according to the lawyers.

The Tarrant County jury sided with Angela and John Davis.

Butcher said the money awarded by the jury is not enough to make up for Davis’ loss, but will help in paying the bills for her 24/7 medical care.

‘Her life was destroyed as a result of the hospital’s negligent actions,” Butcher said. “Imagine being shackled to your own corpse, present, aware, but unable to communicate in any way but by blinking and moaning.”

This story was originally published April 6, 2022 4:39 PM.

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James Hartley is a breaking news journalist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He’s a North Texas native who joined the Star-Telegram team during a 2019 internship and just didn’t leave. He’s passionate about true stories and loves understated movies, good tea and scotch that’s out of his budget.

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