April 2013

According to an article in the Austin American Statesman titled “Tort Reform Not The Tonic It’s Touted To Be”, one of the claims used to pass extreme medical malpractice tort reform in Texas was totally unfounded.  The legislature in Texas passed sweeping medical malpractice reform in 2003 that took away the rights of Texans injured by medical malpractice to pursue recovery for their injuries.  Legislators claimed tort reform was necessary to prevent an exodus of doctors from Texas.

A study done by Hyman, Silver, Black and Myungho Paik titled “Does Tort Reform Affect Physician Supply? Evidence from Texas,” (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2047433) found that a possible reason for a decline in the number of doctors in Texas was not medical malpractice laws, but rather the fact that Texas has a large number of individuals with no health insurance.  Doctors are attracted to areas of the country where they can get paid for their services – not surprising.  From the article:

“In 1998, Texas had about 82 percent as many doctors per capita as the national average. In 2003, the year tort reforms took effect, it had 80 percent as many. And in 2011, it had about 79 percent as many. If tort reform had really made Texas a magnet for physicians, the gap between Texas and other states would have narrowed. In fact, the gap widened a bit.”

So now Texans have less doctors and if a Texan is seriously injured by a doctor, the State of Texas picks up the bill, rather than the responsible doctor’s insurance company.  Way to go Texas.

According to a story on the USA Today website, a jury in Las Animas County Colorado awarded the family of a high school student who suffered a severe brain injury while playing high school football.  The claims in the lawsuit are similar to claims in suits filed by former NFL players against the manufacturer.  The victim received a concussion in football practice, which led to severe brain damage and paralysis on his left side.