East Texas Medical Center settles negligence case for $9M 

justice scales and gavel
A patient sued East Texas Medical Center after he was treated by a doctor who was on probation. (Getty/BrianAJackson)

East Texas Medical Center has resolved a negligence suit for $9 million after a jury determined the patient should receive $43 million in damages. 

Billy Pierce, 61, filed the suit in 2016, two years after he was treated by a physician who had been put on probation by the Texas Medical Board, according to an article from the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Pierce said he sought care for gallstones, and that treatment led to a liver transplant and caused other injuries. 

A jury determined that the hospital committed gross negligence by allowing the physician, Gary Boyd, to continue to see patients while on probation, according to the article. The $9 million settlement will not be appealed, and the hospital said in a statement to the newspaper that it did not agree with the jury's verdict. 

ETMC's bylaws should have prevented Boyd from treating patients, Pierce's attorneys said. "By allowing a dangerous doctor who had lost his hospital privileges to continue to treat patients, this was a tragedy waiting to happen," Reid Martin, one of three lawyers who represented Pierce, told the newspaper. 

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Consumer Report's Safe Patient Project dove into California physicians who are still practicing despite being on probation. In one case, a pediatrician was disciplined 13 times for abusing drugs, and in another an orthopedic surgeon ignored a patient's femur fracture, leading to the patient's leg being amputated. 

The Department of Health and Human Services keeps records of these incidents, but patients don't have access to it, so the group has called for more transparency on which doctors face disciplinary action. 

"The onus shouldn't be on patients to investigate their physicians," Lisa McGiffert, director of the Safe Patient Project, said when the report was released in 2016. "Doctors on probation should be required to tell patients of their status."

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