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In a somewhat surprising move from the traditionally Hospital-friendly Texas Supreme Court, it issued its decision in Ross v. St. Luke’s Hospital [link to opinion]today, narrowing the definition of a “healthcare liability claim” in Texas.

In Ross, a visitor (not a patient) to the hospital slipped and fell near the lobby exit doors, suffering injuries. When Ross sued the hospital, it argued that Ross’ claim was a “healthcare liability” (a/k/a, medical malpractice) claim subject to the stringent procedural and substantive requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act.

The Court in Ross took a step back from its controversial position in Texas West Oaks Hosp. v. Williams, which I blawged about here. Now, the Court states that “we conclude that for a safety standards-based claim to be a HCLC [healthcare liability claim] there must be a substantive nexus between the safety standards allegedly violated and the provision of health care.” The Court continued: “[t]he pivotal issue in a safety standards-based claim is whether the standards on which the claim is based implicate the defendant’s duties as a health care provider, including its duties to provide for patient safety.”

This author sees the Ross case as a big win for Texas consumers and a return to reason with regard to the over-expansion of the Texas Medical Liability Act and its harsh requirements, penalties, and damage caps. It seems the cows will likely not be considered “healthcare providers” after all, as was previously feared.