Recently, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on the case, Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams, and in the aftermath, nurses and healthcare providers across the state have been adversely affected.
Before the Texas West Oaks Hospital ruling by the Texas Supreme Court, if nurses and hospital employees were injured on-the-job, and their hospital employers did not maintain worker’s compensation insurance, the hospitals would lose all of their common law defenses in a lawsuit for negligence by the hospital. Without worker’s compensation insurance, which many East Texas hospitals choose to forego, hospitals would be liable to their nurses and employees for uncapped damages for injuries suffered while on-the-job.
However, the ruling from Texas West Oaks Hospital takes away those privileges. Under the new rules, claims brought by nurses and hospital employees against their employers for on-the-job injuries would be subject to the Texas Medical Liability Act. In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Medical Liability Act, which was meant to deter frivolous medical malpractice claims, and was not meant to apply to nurses or on-the-job injuries sustained by hospital employees. The Act requires plaintiffs to obtain an expert report from a hospital or medical specialist within 120 days of filing suit. Further, the Act confines the non-economic damages for victims of medical negligence to a $250,000 cap. But a question remaining is whether this cap applies in a non-subscriber case.
Now, after Texas West Oaks Hospital, nurses and hospital employees are put at an extreme disadvantage in lawsuits against their employers, not to mention their potential damages may now be capped at $250,000. This new decision will no doubt have a stark impact on the healthcare industry here in Texas.