Texas Malpractice Caps Blasted, Defended

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 14, 2011

He asserts, however, that any claims that Texas has seen a decline in the numbers of practicing physicians since 2003 are simply untrue. "By any objective measurement what we have seen is the end of the exodus of doctors from our state. We have seen a substantial increase in doctors coming to Texas and practicing, especially in the high-risk fields. What that means is more care for more people and closer to their homes. That is not reflected in their study," he says.

Opelt says the report also gives a false impression that patients' rights to legal redress have been gutted in Texas when, in fact, only non-economic damages have been capped.

"Even with these new reforms in place one could still receive a multimillion dollar judgment," he says. "What it has done is reduced the number of lawsuits filed in this state. It has reduced the number of outlier awards. It has allowed doctors hospitals and nursing homes to find and afford liability coverage so they can treat patients."

Opelt also objected to the study's contention that Texas physicians face less accountability for errors since the imposition of the caps.
"There is nothing in the peer review studies that draw a correlation between lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits to the improved quality of care," he said. "Since the passage of reforms we have seen some significant improvements in Texas, but they are not totally related to the cap. Although it can be stated that dollars that used to go to lawyers and lawsuits are now going to charity care and patient care."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Texas Malpractice Caps Blasted, Defended"

maria (4/9/2012 at 12:53 PM)
Now hospitals and physicians misdiagnose patients continuously, abuse older patients with procedures that are completely unnecessary. An older patient goes to the hospital for a bacterial infection and his treatment is so lacking that he is thrown into renal failure and of course, every thing is set up for dialysis. The amount of elderly patients on dialysis is staggering. There is a waiting list for chairs at the dialysis centers. It reminds me of what was happening in the 80s when doctors were giving hysterectomies to women as young as mid thirties. Now is dialysis for the elderly. Somebody should look into this and do something about. It is a real shame what is happening in the US.

CJ (10/14/2011 at 3:39 PM)
This is the problem: Unsubstantiated Facts. That's how the malpractice law was passed in the first place and it looks like it continues with this two page quote from Jon Opelt. TexPac, Texas Medial Association and Texas Alliance for Patient Access (nice company name, Jon. Maybe you should consider changing it to Texas Alliance for Higher Physician Incomes) built their entire malpractice campaign in 2003 on assumptions with no real hard data to back it up, and everyone bought what they were selling. Doctors fleeing Texas! (oh no!) No more OBGYNs to deliver babies! (But we love babies!) Many good things came out of the malpractice reform and one of those is a clearer process for bring suit against a possibly negligent physician. Malpractice rates were outrageous at the time, it's true. But the tactics they used to sell the malpractice reform bill were fear-based, dirty and manipulative. The Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association should be ashamed for creating false fears in voters to get a law passed that, basically, simply puts more money in the physicians' pockets and offers nothing in return for Texas patients.




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