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In the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center V. Rickey Lucero, Et Al. case (2007) held before the Texas court of appeals, in which the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center appeals in the case that has been awarded to Lucero Family for one of their deceased family, who had died due to medical negligence from Dr. Prasad, an employee of the hospital.  The Court found the Hospital negligent for medical malpractice under the Texas Tort Claims Act.

The patient Partricia Lucero, 27 year old female, had undergone removal of the gallbladder with the help of a laproscope in January, 2001, at the Tech hospital.

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However, she developed pain within a few months.  The doctor who performed the surgery Dr. Emmett Mc Guire examined the patient in mid march and saidu that she did not have any stricture or bile leak.  Dr. HR Lee for the pain also attended to her.  The patient continued to have the abdominal pain and was suggested a CT scan by Dr. Prasad.   This was performed about a month later.  Lucero developed Jaundice in July 12, 2001, and was sent to Thomason hospital for treatment of jaundice.

 A Gastroenterologist from the Tech Hospital Dr. Saket Prasad, conducted several tests to determine the levels of the liver enzymes, and found that several of the enzymes were raised due to associated blockage of the bile duct. Dr. Prasad felt the same, and the very next day he performed a ERCP to visualize and confirm the narrowed bile duct.  Following this procedure, he was able to diagnose the presence of a stricture of the hepatic duct and narrowing of the bile duct.

He performed a stent bypass surgery, in which a stent was surgically placed so that the bile could flow past the stricture.  The patient was released from the hospital the very next day, and after two weeks she developed back pain.

However, Dr. Prasad did not respond to the patient’s complaints appropriately.  The patient’s pain worsened over a period of time, and she visited Tech.  Her previous Dr. Lee attended to her, and Lucero placed a complaint, alleging that Dr. Lee failed to provide appropriate care to her.  She even said that she had been diagnosed with stricture of the bile duct in another clinic.

The patient was made to undergo a CT scan on August 16, and it was found that she had developed a tumor in the bile duct.  However, Dr. Prasad did not give any importance to the patient’s latest findings.  He still considered that the patient was suffering from strictures of the bile duct.  Over the next few months the patients condition had worsened.  Her abdominal pain was increasing and the alkaline phosphotase level in the blood also was rising.

The patient although was suffering from a tumor in the bile duct, was treated as if she had a stricture in the bile duct.  Dr. Prasad met the patient on the 4th of September, and agreed to treat her with ERCP again on the 11th of October.  He planned to visualize the bile duct again with the help of an endoscope and rule out the presence of the tumor.  However, due to the patient’s worsening condition, her close relative called and requested the doctor to hold the procedure at least a month earlier.

However, the Doctor did not consider the patient’s request and ignored it completely.  In September, the patient visited the Thomason Hospital and underwent an ERCP under the supervision of Dr. Hernandez.  He found that the stent was not in the proper place, causing a leakage of bile through the bile duct.

Hence, her condition was deteriorating.  Dr. Prasad still did not give any importance to the cries of the patient.  She required immediate repair of the leaking bile duct, and was later transferred to another hospital.  However, due to her worsening condition, this operation could not be conducted.  Lucero died on the 20th of December from severe infection of the abdomen.

Dr. Hernandez found that Dr. Prasad failed to meet the standards of care entrusted upon him.  Dr. Prasad had to follow-up the patient properly.  He had to ensure that she was given all the care required.  However, he failed to meet the standard of care due to ignoring the genuine problems the patient had following the surgery.

  Due to this failure, the patient suffered damages and also had a fatal outcome.  Hence, the physician had to be considered negligent for his actions.  However, in this case Dr. Prasad worked as a consultant of the hospital.

The hospital was held liable for negligence vicariously for the actions of Dr. Prasad.  Although Dr. Prasad worked as a consultant or an independent contractor (as he visited two hospitals), the patient was not informed sufficiently before the producer about the position of Dr. Prasad in the hospital.  Hence,

References:
Texas Court of Appeals for the Eighth District on appeal from the County Court of Law Number 7, El Paso County
http://www.morelaw.com/verdicts/case.asp?n=08-05-00297-CV&s=TX%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20&d=33548

Texas Court of Appeals for the Ninth District on appeal from the 172nd District Court of Jefferson County
http://www.morelaw.com/verdicts/case.asp?n=09-05-511+CV&s=TX%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20&d=33549

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