WB - In the News Convicted Texas Nurse Killed 4 Heart Surgery Patients

In the News: Convicted Texas Nurse Killed 4 Heart Surgery Patients

by Andrus Becki

A Texas nurse was recently convicted of murder in the deaths of four of his patients during 2017-2018. William George Davis, R.N. cared for his patients following heart surgery when he injected their arteries with air. Each patient was at the Tyler, Texas Hospital Christus Trinity Mother Frances. All four of these patients had unexplained neurological issues during recovery and later died.

A local pulmonologist, Dr. William Yarbrough explained during the trial that the act of injecting air into the arteries of a patient leads to brain injury and eventually death. He further explained that he was able to see there was air in the arterial system of each victims’ brains from scans that took place.

The jury found Davis guilty of capital murder for these multiple victims. Davis was sentenced to death a few days later.

Heart Surgery Victim Cases and Other Medical Malpractice Cases Explained

When you go to your doctor or enter a healthcare facility, you trust that you will be well taken care of. Intentional harm done to you or a loved one isn’t something that is on your mind. You’re there to get better and feel better. That’s what you expect to happen, and you plan accordingly, just like the patients of William Davis, R.N. in Tyler, Texas did. Sadly, their story didn’t end the way they expected, just as others don’t across the country.

Medical malpractice suits are becoming more common due to neglect, improper treatment, or medical errors. Look at social media and the news, and you’ll see examples of these situations. Because of this, we are becoming more and more aware of factors that can lead to malpractice.

Some examples of possible error or carelessness that occurs in the medical field can include:

  • Not following up on a patient
  • Medication error (wrong medication or incorrect dosage)
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Performing unneeded or incorrect surgery
  • Surgery on the wrong part of the body
  • Mistakes during surgery, including leaving instruments inside the body after surgery
  • Infections following care or surgery
  • Not attending to the patient properly, causing harm (including pressure ulcers, bedsores, etc.)
  • Intentionally causing harm to the patient in any way

Legal Components of Medical Malpractice

Although we do hear of medical malpractice cases more and more, they rarely go to trial like the heart surgery victims. Instead, most claims settle out of court. For a case to fall in the category of medical malpractice, the following must be part of the event:

  • The doctor, health care provider, or hospital had a professional duty they owed their patient. This is usually the easiest part for the patient/victim to prove. As soon as the physician assumes care of the patient, they are professionally duty-bound to provide a standard of care to that patient.
  • The duty owed was breached, and the normal standard of care did not occur. Sometimes this can be proven simply because the standard of care was so plainly not met. Other times, expert witnesses and other medical professionals come in to describe “reasonable care.” Court proceedings compare care with services any other medical professional would provide.
  • The breach caused the injury. The patient must show that there was direct injury because of the neglect or sub-par care they received. A link between the lack of standard care and the injury (proximate causation) can also be shown.
  • Damage was the result for the patient (including physical, emotional, and financial). Usually, damages calculations are part of the final section of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The damages calculated include monetary damages incurred (medical bills, loss of work, future medical expenses, etc.) to compensate the patient for their emotional and physical distress.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are usually very time-consuming and last for a stretch of several years. This not only costs financially – but emotionally as well. Medical malpractice cases can be very complicated and require a lot of time and resources from attorneys, physicians, hospital staff, patients, and families. Many times, settling out of court is the desired outcome to limit that some of the time and heavy toll it can take on everyone.

Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit for when you must file a lawsuit after your injury takes place. This is called the statute of limitations. Acting quickly on filing your claim will help ensure you will meet the deadlines required.

In Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations in medical malpractice suits no matter the type of injury. This means the patient has two years to file a claim from the date that the medical provider was negligent in their care.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, but they are complicated to sort out. It is best to consult an attorney about your case as the laws can be extremely complex. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to tell you if you will be filing within the statute of limitations unique to your situation and the area you live.

Medical Malpractice Insurance

Physicians in the United States regularly have medical malpractice insurance to protect themselves if a medical malpractice case were to arise. In fact, most hospitals and care centers require physicians to have medical malpractice insurance before they can even practice in their facility.

While we are all becoming more familiar with medical malpractice cases, medical providers and hospitals are becoming more educated and aware of medical malpractice risks as well as malpractice suits. In fact, most physicians face lawsuits at least once before the end of their careers.

Your Medical Malpractice Case

If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence or other wrongdoing while being cared for by a medical professional, contact our team at Wormington & Bollinger to find out what you can expect from your lawsuit. We offer a free legal consultation to help you make an educated decision on how to proceed with your case. Contact us today to learn more.

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