Health Care Law


With the passing of another year, Texas has again expanded the practice of health law by adding to the patchwork of new legal considerations that the health care industry must track and manage. This article presents the key health law developments from the Survey period under four topic areas: physician and facility liability, contractual obligations, government investigations and enforcement, and public health and indigent care.

Within physician and facility liability, coverage dissects four key Texas Supreme Court cases and one case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit: Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hague; Providence Health Center v. Dowell; Lewis v. Funderburk; Leland v. Brandal; and Poliner v. Texas Health Systems. The federal case, Poliner, may prove to have the greatest impact of the five cases discussed in this section.

The section reviewing contractual obligations covers two courts of appeal cases which address recruiting agreements. In one, a jury’s damages award to a hospital for a physician’s breach of a recruiting agreement is upheld. And in the other, the court upheld a patient-recruiting contract with a novel interpretation of the advertising exception to the Texas Patient Solicitation law.

In the government investigations and enforcement section, two different issues are covered. First, an analysis of In re Memorial Hermann Healthcare System addresses discover protections when cooperating with the government. Second, analyses of two nearly identical cases, Texas v. CVS and Texas v. Select Medical Corp., address penalties and compliance programs for medical records disposal.

Finally, public health and indigent care issues were hot topics this year. The Texas Supreme Court held that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s data-collection method for determining state Medicaid payment rates to hospitals was an invalidly promulgated rule. In addition, the Texas attorney general ruled that a county government could not pay certain health care claims submitted by health care providers because the claims resulted in unconstitutional local government debt. In another opinion, the attorney general concluded that implementation of a county’s recently enacted pilot needle-exchange program would likely violate Texas controlled substances laws that prohibit the possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia.

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SMU Law Review

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