Tort Law

Doctors Drawn to 'Friendlier' Texas

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In Texas, it can be a long wait for a doctor: up to six months.

A “friendlier” malpractice climate in Texas is drawing more physicians to the state.

In the four years after Texas voted for a constitutional amendment limiting awards in medical malpractice cases, doctors are flooding into the state, the New York Times reports.

“It was hard to believe at first; we thought it was a spike,” Lawyer/Dr. Donald W. Patrick, executive director of the medical board and a neurosurgeon, told the Times. “Doctors are coming to Texas because they sense a friendlier malpractice climate.”

Critics question the role of damage caps and note that malpractice lawsuits didn’t increase much in the years leading up to passage of Proposition 12.

Most states have enacted caps on damages, but Texas has the most restrictive limits. Noneconomic damages are set at $250,000 per institution. For economic losses—lost income and continuing medical care—the cap is $1.6 million in death cases.

The ABA Journal wrote about how the 2003 caps affected defense and plaintiffs lawyers in Texas in “Tort Reform, Texas Style,” October 2006.

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