Texarkana court of appeals tackles sufficiency of plaintiff's medical expert opinion

The 6th Court of Appeals, in Texarkana, Texas, recently entered an opinion regarding the sufficiency of a medical expert report challenged by the defense.

The case is styled McBride v. Dr. Pavan Rao Saridena, No. 06-20-00028-CV. You can read the opinion here.

The facts of the case began with the plaintiff going to see a gastroenterologist because of abdominal pain, nausea, and constipation. During a physical exam, the doctor found that her abdomen was tender. He recommended an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedure, where a scope with a camera is inserted through the patient’s mouth to explore the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

During the EGD, the patient’s stomach was accidentally ripped open, and what was described as a deep tear. She was transferred by ambulance to Good Shepherd Hospital, in Longview, Texas.

In my experience, surgical experts typically find that these types of injuries aren’t necessarily because of negligence. In other words, it’s often not medical malpractice to lacerate or damage an organ or structure. The potential negligence comes into play when there is a failure or delay in diagnosing and treating the complication.

Here, the necessary repair was extensive, including a Roux-en-Y gastrojejunostomy and feeding tube.

In the medical malpractice lawsuit filed, the plaintiff attempted to meet the tort reform expert report requirements by timely producing an expert report and supplemental report from a gastroenterologist. The defendant objected to the sufficiency of the reports and filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted.

On appeal, the Texarkana Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal, finding that it wasn’t an abuse of discretion.

What happened that led to this result in such a horrific case? Here are the defense objections:

• The expert wasn’t qualified to tender an expert report because he didn’t profess to have knowledge of the standard of care applicable to performance of an EGD.

• The standard of care opinions were conclusory, insufficient, and baseless.

• The causation (how the mistakes caused harm) opinions were baseless.

The Texarkana appellate court reviewed the expert’s first report and supplemental report, noting that his criticisms were basically ones of inadequate documentation. The expert was critical of the gastroenterologist’s failure to discuss and/or document the possible use of Botox, failure to rule out more common problems, and failure to document why Botox and dilation are indicated.

The court determined that the expert’s opinions were conclusory because they did not provide an explanation or basis for why the gastroenterologist should not have performed the procedures in the first place. Further, the court decided it was within the trial court’s discretion to dismiss this case because even if the standard of care opinions were appropriate, the report failed to link how those potential mistakes actually caused injury to the plaintiff.

This appellate opinion illustrates that medical malpractice cases under Texas law are complex. If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor hospital, physician, or surgical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.