Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center recently received a two-star ranking—the next-to-lowest one possible—from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS releases its annual star rankings of hospitals nationwide based on data obtained from its Hospital Compare website.
This 1,082-bed hospital is located in Harris County, Texas, at 6411 Fannin Street Houston, TX 77030, which is in the massive Texas Medical Center. Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center is a major academic and research hospital that attempts to offer basic and comprehensive specialized services to patients. It serves as the primary teaching hospital of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (“UT”).
Tort Claims Act at Memorial Hermann
Its affiliation with UT is not all good news, particularly when poor physician care seriously harms or kills a patient. Even though Memorial Hermann is a private hospital system, the fact that UT professors (attending physicians) and doctors-in-training (residents and fellows) provide much of the medical care can bring surprising news to patients if something goes wrong. UT employees, including UT physicians working at Memorial Hermann, are covered by the Texas Tort Claims Act.
Under the Tort Claims Act, plaintiffs must give UT written notice of a potential claim within six months of an incident or injury, unless UT has actual notice of the potential claim. This requirement alone has prevented many people from being able to proceed with a lawsuit, because they were only thinking about the general two-year statute of limitations.
All claims against UT physicians are subject to a total cap of $250,000 for each patient’s bodily injury or death. (Unlike the normal Texas tort reform caps, the $250,000 only applies to non-economic damages like pain and suffering and mental anguish, but economic damages like medical bills and lost wages aren’t capped).
Plus, only some types of negligence can be pursued against UT physicians—it has to involve the use of tangible personal property. If a surgeon makes a mistake and lacerates an artery with a scalpel, a plaintiff can recover for that negligence because it involves tangible personal property. But, if a radiologist misreads an MRI or CT scan, a doctor makes the wrong diagnosis, a resident orders the wrong drug, or a patient is discharged without treatment, then there’s no case against UT because there’s no personal property involved.
Doctors in Training
There’s no doubt that some of the doctors at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center offer cutting-edge medicine and are among the best in their fields. That doesn’t mean you’ll see them, though, particularly in the evenings or on weekends or holidays. As a teaching hospital, you’re likely to be worked up by doctors fresh out of medical school who are still their clinical training in residencies and fellowships.
Like other teaching hospitals, perhaps the biggest factor on whether a patient receives proper care is the level of supervision and communication with the fully-trained attending physicians, both by the doctors in training providing most of the direct patient care, as well as the hospital’s nursing staff. The big-name physicians are often at home or elsewhere, depending on accurate and regular reporting to know what’s going on with their patients.
While Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center isn’t responsible for poor care provided by the doctors on its medical staff, it is accountable for its nursing staff. That includes the failure to train and supervise nurses, as well as mistakes made by nurses themselves.
In my experience in handling Memorial Hermann cases, there some common types of nursing negligence. In some cases, there’s a question of whether a nurse was even competent enough to be hired and retained on the staff of the hospital. In other cases, nurses are put in positions over their heads, without additional training and demonstrated skills. Finally, there are many cases in which nurses fail to follow physician orders and to immediately inform a doctor when there are concerning signs and symptoms that the patient isn’t doing well.
We are here to help
Because we’ve handled many medical malpractice lawsuits against Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, we know how their physician training programs work, plus where to look and how to get the information and records we need to find out what happened in a patient’s care. And we’re not intimidated to take on the flagship hospital of the largest nonprofit hospital system in Texas.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of emergency room, medical, hospital, or surgical care, click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, and Waco.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.