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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On June 23, 2006, Gabriel Alfonso Holguin filed suit against Laredo Regional Medical Center LP, doing business as Doctors Hospital of Laredo, and Juan Morales Jr. Holguin claimed that while he was a patient at Laredo Regional he was sexually assaulted by Morales, a nurse employed by Laredo Regional. According to Holguin, he took medication at the hospital that caused him to become drowsy and fall asleep. He awoke to find Morales sexually assaulting him. Holguin claimed Morales was negligent in his conduct and Laredo Regional was responsible for that conduct under the doctrine of respondeat superior. He also alleged Laredo Regional was negligent in its own right for failing to protect Holguin from Morales. On Nov. 3, 2006, Morales and Laredo Regional filed a motion to dismiss, claiming Holguin had failed to serve his 120-day expert report as mandated by Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code �74.351(a). Holguin filed a response in which he admitted he did not comply with �74.351(a) but argued he was not required to serve an expert report, because he had not asserted any health-care liability claims. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss and entered a judgment dismissing Holguin’s suit with prejudice. Holguin appealed. In a single issue, Holguin claimed that the trial court erred in granting the motion to dismiss. He argued that Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code did not govern his claims, because he alleged “safety claims” that were not “directly related to health care.” HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. Section 74.351(a) requires that, not later than the 120th day after filing suit, a claimant serve on each party or the party’s attorney one or more expert reports for each physician or health-care provider against whom a claim is asserted. When the essence of the suit is a health-care liability claim, the court stated, a claimant cannot avoid the expert report requirements through “artful pleading.” Thus, the court sought to determine whether the underlying nature of Holguin’s claims was so inextricably interwoven with the rendition of medical care or health care so as to constitute a health-care liability claim. It would defy logic, the court stated, to suggest that a sexual assault “is an inseparable part of the rendition of medical care” or a departure from accepted standards of health care. Holguin, the court stated, alleged that Morales injured the claimant by his own actions; the claim had nothing to do with a health-care provider’s lapse in professional judgment or failure to protect a patient due to an absence of supervision or monitoring. Accordingly, because Holguin’s claim for sexual assault against Morales was not a health-care liability claim, no expert report was required, and the trial court erred in dismissing Holguin’s claim against Morales. Even if Holguin’s claim, the court stated, cannot be categorized as a departure from accepted standards of safety under the definition of health-care liability claim, the court held that Holguin’s claims were nevertheless alleged departures from accepted standards of health care and thus fell within the definition of health-care liability claim for that reason. Holguin claimed Laredo Regional was negligent in not protecting him from a nurse, because it failed to properly hire, train or supervise the nurse. Proper staffing for the care and protection of patients is related to and part of the rendition of health care, the court stated. Without safe, reliable staffing, health care would obviously be compromised because “training and staffing policies and supervision and protection” of patients “are integral components of . . . health care services.” Accordingly, the court held that the trial court correctly determined Holguin’s claims against Laredo Regional were health-care liability claims. Thus, the trial court did not err in granting the motion to dismiss the claims against Laredo Regional. OPINION:Hilbig, J.; Angelini, Simmons and Hilbig, JJ.

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