Legal

Covered for COVID? Business Interruption Insurance Could Come in Handy - 07/01/2020

Business interruption insurance could come in handy for losses related to COVID-19.


“Absurd” Contract Dodge Rejected: Court Lets Cancer Center’s Debt-Collection Suit Proceed - 04/30/2020

Appeals court denies “free speech” challenge to cancer center’s debt-collection suit.


No Double-Dipping: Tacking Settlement Money onto Negligence Awards at Issue - 04/30/2020

Like many broad legislative measures, Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms continue to be a target for opponents long after being signed into law. The Texas Medical Association is fighting again to defend them. The measure under siege this time prevents patients who file negligence or other lawsuits from adding to their damage award through family members’ settlements stemming from the same case – that is, no “double-dipping.”


TMA to TMB: Let Docs Decide Whether In-Person Visit Needed For Subsequent Opioid Scrips - 03/06/2020

The Texas Medical Association has some suggestions for the Texas Medical Board on how to implement the state’s new 10-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain. A letter to the board says it should be up to the physician’s judgment whether a non-initial 10-day prescription for acute pain requires seeing a patient in-person.


Taking Their Lumps? TMA Works to Reverse Decision on Future Medical Expenses - 02/28/2020

Does a court have full discretion to decide how much of an award for future medical expenses is paid in periodic payments versus a lump sum? The 4th Court of Appeals said yes, allowing a patient to collect the majority of a $3 million award up front. Medicine is concerned the ruling goes against a tort reform protection requiring periodic payments to be based on evidence the jury used to determine the future-medical award. That ensures patients get the compensation they are due for their future medical expenses but only when they need it.


Preserving Do No Harm: Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Medical Ethics Committee Law. - 02/18/2020

Twenty years after it took effect, Texas’ medical ethics committee review law has withstood challenge after challenge. The Texas Supreme Court is on the verge of ending the latest high-profile attack on the law that ensures physicians can uphold their professional obligation to “do no harm.” In October 2019, the state’s high court declined to take up Kelly v. Houston Methodist Hospital, in which the mother of a deceased patient attempted to overturn a provision of the Texas Advance Directives Act. Justices’ action leaves intact an appeals court decision that preserves physicians’ ability to use their medical judgment in end-of-life cases.


Wage Rule Extends Overtime to More Employees - 02/07/2020

Some of your employees may have become newly eligible for overtime pay on Jan. 1. The U.S. Department of Labor has increased the minimum salary for exempt employees to $684 per week – $35,568 annually – from the previous level of $455 per week ($23,660 annually). Any employee earning less than $684 per week is automatically nonexempt and thus eligible for overtime pay.


Finally Settled: Hospitals Settle Physician's Anti-Competition Lawsuit - 01/08/2020

A Laredo oncologist confidentially settled a years-long lawsuit involving a pair of hospitals he alleged mischaracterized a past legal misfortune to terminate his privileges and eliminate his clinic from competing with the facilities.


TMA Supports Medical Ethics Committee Review Law in Latest Challenge - 12/20/2019

TMA has joined several other organizations on a friend-of-the-court brief in a case challenging the state's medical ethics committee review law. In the most recent challenge, the mother of a 10-month-old girl who since birth has been on life-support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, has sued the hospital and obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her daughter on life support.


Know Your ADA Obligations - 12/04/2019

If someone asked you about your training on federal requirements for accommodating patients with disabilities, would your answer sound something like this? “Oh golly. I have no idea. I’m sure I had to read or study something sometime. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been a doctor for quite a while, so I suspect I had to learn it somewhere, but I don’t remember where.” That’s an actual answer from one internal medicine physician in a recent study of doctors’ knowledge of their legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And if the results of that small study are any indication, many physicians might be lacking in their knowledge on the subject.  


Doctors Can Prohibit Handguns in Medical Offices - 10/24/2019

If you're not exactly jazzed about the thought of patients carrying handguns into your medical practice next year, you can do something to prevent it. House Bill 910 by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, and it allows Texans with handgun licenses to openly carry their handguns in a hip or shoulder holster. TMA has received questions regarding whether physicians can post a notice at their practices prohibiting anyone from entering with a handgun – concealed or openly. The answer depends on the type of property the medical office is located on. Generally, a private property owner may post notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns   , but HB 910 contains many requirements. TMA's white paper, titled [insert title and link], has more information for physicians.


Warning: Watch Your Referrals - 10/01/2019

Federal anti-kickback law has changed, and it’s gotten broader. As a result, you may need to re-examine your practice’s compensation arrangements. That includes payments for laboratory referrals.  


The Doctor - and Lawyer - Will See You Now: Medical-Legal Partnerships - 09/27/2019

Elderly woman. Low-income. Chronic pain. Needs to see a rheumatologist. Needs physical therapy. Struggling to pay rent. Has no insurance. Has no disability coverage. As a family physician at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Austin, Sharad Kohli, MD, sees a lot of cases like this. In similar health care settings, the patient might face two bad choices: wage bureaucratic war to obtain better health care benefits or simply give up. At People’s Community Clinic, Dr. Kohli referred her to an in-house lawyer who successfully appealed her denial of disability insurance. “[The lawyer] got her a significant income, which allowed her to pay her rent and also helped her get insurance through Medicaid and Medicare,” Dr. Kohli said. “And then she was able to see the rheumatologist and the physical therapist.” This kind of success helps explain why medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) like the one at People’s Community Clinic came about in 1993 and began expanding nationally after 2001. Te...


No Docs of All Trades: Ruling Reinforces Expert Witness Reforms - 09/26/2019

Before Texas’ landmark liability reforms passed in 2003, gray areas in the law often led to serious green for people who sued physicians.


Fighting Back: Practice Wins Court Battle Over Defamatory Online Reviews - 09/03/2019

One practice’s recent legal battle epitomizes physicians’ worst nightmares when it comes to online reviews. Here’s an extreme but glaring real world example, straight from the documents in a lawsuit that Austin Eye first filed in October 2017 over


Court Rejects Hospital Challenge to Defamation Lawsuit - Again - 08/21/2019

Once again, Houston cardiothoracic surgeon Miguel Gomez, MD, has won in court in his battle to collect more than $6 million from Memorial Hermann Health System in a defamation lawsuit.


Medical Futility Law Sustained - 08/02/2019

Court tosses out challenge to ethics committee review of end-of-life care.


Final Verdict? Case Tests Court's Ability to Overturn a Jury Verdict - 08/02/2019

It was an overwhelming, 12-0 verdict – a jury’s unanimous rejection of a negligence case against a Laredo physician. Then, a judge took that decision away and ordered a new trial – not because of jury misconduct, or any procedural stumble that usually negates a court decision. It was taken away, essentially, because the judge said so.


The Meaning of Monthly: Court Ruling Offers Hope on Pain Clinic Registrations - 08/02/2019

Physicians can encounter a web of confusion and unfairness when it comes to navigating the Texas Medical Board (TMB). A Travis County district court has given Texas physicians clarity and hope when it comes to certain medical board investigations. The court’s decision, if it holds up, establishes an important precedent for when physicians are required to register their facility as a pain management clinic.


Eight Steps to a HIPAA Security Risk Analysis - 05/30/2019

Many practices have not yet conducted and documented this required HIPAA task. Follow these eight steps to complete your risk analysis.


Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Physicians Can Get Subpoenaed in Divorce Cases - 03/11/2019

Physicians subpoenaed to participate in a divorce case, whether to testify or simply to supply medical records to the court, could find themselves at the center of an acrimonious split. There are certain things they should know.


The Right to Fight: Attorney-Client Protections for Physicians and Other Professionals Under Threat - 03/05/2019

The Texas Medical Association is asking the Texas Supreme Court to make sure physicians can maintain the right to keep attorney-client communications private when doctors testify as experts in their own cases.


High Court Decision Brings Favorable Wind for Physician Experts - 02/22/2019

The Texas Supreme Court has sided with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association – and by extension, with medicine – in a case that impacts physicians who testify as expert witnesses in their own defense.


Want To Learn More About Medical-Legal Issues? - 01/17/2019

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the legal issues associated with medicine, plan to attend the Physicians and Hospitals Law Institute, scheduled for early February in San Antonio


Supreme Court Agrees With TMA on Negligence Standard in Liability Case - 01/04/2019

After performing a grammatical deep dive, the Texas Supreme Court has sided with an obstetrician-gynecologist who argued that a higher standard of negligence should apply in a lawsuit against him over complications from a 2011 delivery.