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The Verdict: How Much Does a Hospital Owe for Causing a Patient’s Death?

The Supreme Court of Texas acknowledged a higher burden of proof for gross negligence. Athena Hogue had to prove that the jury had enough evidence to form a firm belief for its judgment.

First, she had to show that the hospital’s actions created an extreme risk, or a likelihood that someone would be harmed. She also had to show that the hospital was aware of the risk to Bob Hogue and acted with conscious indifference to his welfare.

All hospitals do not have to provide all services to all patients, the court wrote, but the incident’s circumstances had to be taken into account. In this case, the hospital had no effective way for getting the critical echocardiogram service on a stat basis, and failed to inform the doctors in enough time for them to send Hogue to another facility. According to Hogue’s doctors, an echo within 30 or 60 minutes of when it was ordered might have saved his life.

In April 2008, the court upheld the gross negligence finding. Athena Hogue received the damages award earlier this year.

“I had an awesome husband,” Athena Hogue said. “We were married 25 years, but I’d feel the same if it had been 100 years. He was the love of my life.”

What do you think of the verdict? Let us know in the Community Commentary below.

Read the full story here.


Robin Gerber is a lawyer and the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.

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