Sunday, October 07, 2007

Doctors flock back to Texas after tort reform. Well DUH!

The New York Times chronicles the massive success of Texas' tort reform efforts have had on the climate for medical practice in their state. They've answered one of those "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?" stupid questions about the real-world positive effects of tort reform on medicine. Since 2003, when sensible med-mal caps for non-economic damages were enacted, Texas has seen an increase of nearly 20% of Physicians becoming licenced there. This includes a disproportionate number of critical specialists including 186 obstetricians, 156 orthopedic surgeons and 26 neurosurgeons.

For pain and suffering Texas patients can sue a doctor for no more than $250,000 each. Plaintiffs can still recover economic damages, like the cost of medical care or wages, but the amount they can win was capped at $1.6 million in death cases. Those are numbers I think most people consider reasonable, especially when the primary goal of the med-mal system is not to be some punative wealth-redistribution process.

As a result of these, the average malpractice premium reduction physicians has seen is 21.3%, and I suspect for some of the surgical specialties it may in fact be much more then that. It's hard to argue against that as more evidence of the correlation between tort reform and the malpractice crisis unless you're a trial lawyer.

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