SAN ANTONIO — When Connie Spears arrived at a Christus Santa Rosa hospital emergency room in 2010 with severe leg pain, she told medical staff about her history of blood clots. Doctors sent her home with a far less serious diagnosis.
Days later, swollen and delusional, Spears was taken by ambulance to another hospital where doctors found a severe clot and extensive tissue damage. With her life on the line, they amputated both of her legs above the knee.
Nearly three years later, Spears says she is a victim not only of a medical mistake but also of Texas’ tort reform laws.
The massive tort reform package that Texas lawmakers approved in 2003 capped noneconomic damages a plaintiff can receive for medical malpractice at $250,000 and set a “willful and wanton” negligence standard — interpreted as intentionally harming the patient — for emergency care. It also required plaintiffs to find a practicing or teaching physician in the same specialty as the defendant to serve as an expert witness, and to demonstrate evidence of negligence ahead of a trial. Under the strengthened rules, if plaintiffs fail to produce adequate expert reports within 120 days of filing their cases, they are liable for defendants’ legal fees.
Read More: The Texas Tribune