TorteDeForm

Eric Turkewitz

Texas Tort “Reform” and the New York Times

ETOct5(1).jpg

Cross-posted from New York Personal Injury Law Blog:

The New York Times reports today on the huge increase in doctors flooding into the Texas since medical malpractice damages were severely capped in 2003. Want to know what else has gone up? Patient complaints and actions against doctors by the Texas Medical Board.

The article quotes an official as saying that disciplinary actions have risen only 8 percent. But is that really true? Not when I look at the numbers.

Here's the quote buried on page 2:

Since 2003, investigations of doctors have gone up 40 percent, patient complaints have gone up 25 percent, and disciplinary actions about 8 percent, said Jill Wiggins, a board spokeswoman.

Maybe that official isn't looking at these statistics. Nor, apparently was the New York Times.

Total Disciplinary Actions
:
2002: 187
2003: 277
2004: 256
2005: 304
2006: 335

If you measure from 2002, the last full year before the caps were imposed, then disciplinary actions rose 79%. If one is going to do a "before" and "after" comparison that seems the likely year to use.

If, on the other hand, you are trying to spin the New York Times to claim only a minimal change, then you ignore the rapid increase over four years and minimize the damage by only discussing the change from 2005 to 2006.

By the way, 2007 isn't shaping up much better, with 88 doctors disciplined at the Medical Board's August meeting, 30 in June, 34 in April, and 41 in February. That's 193 so far, with two more meetings to go, on a pace to well exceed the 2002 numbers.

So Texas is clearly getting more doctors. They just might not be the ones you want.

See Also:

* More Docs Messin w/ Texas¦ While Texas Messes with Patient-Plaintiffs (TortDeform)

(Eric Turkewitz is a personal injury attorney in New York)

Labels: tort reform

Eric Turkewitz: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 11:16 AM, Oct 05, 2007 in Debunking Tort "Reform" | In the News | Medical Malpractice
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Comments

A common falicy is to look at some statistics and then assume that they tell ou want you want to hear. Some other things that must be known about the Texas State Medical Board. Starting in 2002 there was a great concern that the board was not taking enough actions. It was well known that Texas had the lowest rate of disciplinary actions for physicians of its surrounding states. Subsequently, the Board recieved increasing funding and mandidates to do more. The number of things that it should discipline for was also increased. It is interesting to note that in 10 years there was only 206 actions for substandard or questionable care. (please note that this can not be compared to the Bar where there is no standard). Access to report complaints to the Board were also made easier by removing administrative hurdles and internet accesssable.

Can you say that the number of actions are due to bad doctors moving to Texas based on an increase in the disciplinary actions? No. It is like saying there are more speeders on the highways when the police write more tickets. There are many other factors at play

One very good thing that can be deduced is is that the Texas Medical Board is stepping up to the plate and hopefully will continue to do so.

Posted by: throckmorton | October 5, 2007 1:53 PM

A common falicy is to look at some statistics and then assume that they tell ou want you want to hear. Some other things that must be known about the Texas State Medical Board. Starting in 2002 there was a great concern that the board was not taking enough actions. It was well known that Texas had the lowest rate of disciplinary actions for physicians of its surrounding states. Subsequently, the Board recieved increasing funding and mandidates to do more. The number of things that it should discipline for was also increased. It is interesting to note that in 10 years there was only 206 actions for substandard or questionable care. (please note that this can not be compared to the Bar where there is no standard). Access to report complaints to the Board were also made easier by removing administrative hurdles and internet accesssable.

Can you say that the number of actions are due to bad doctors moving to Texas based on an increase in the disciplinary actions? No. It is like saying there are more speeders on the highways when the police write more tickets. There are many other factors at play

One very good thing that can be deduced is is that the Texas Medical Board is stepping up to the plate and hopefully will continue to do so.

Posted by: throckmortonsothersigns | October 5, 2007 1:55 PM

In creating the post, I made an observation that, along with tort "reform" there was also an increase in docs and an increase in disciplinary procedures. That's three different variables. That might make absolute conclusions difficult, but I think there is sufficient evidence to take educated guesses. (There also might be unrelated economic variables. For example, in New York, upstate is losing docs and downstate is gaining them due to local economies.)

I think we can agree though, that when you start granting protections and immunities to a group, then the lower end of the spectrum is going to flock to that jurisdiction, and if that field is medicine, that will not be good for patients.

Posted by: Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog | October 5, 2007 2:09 PM

In addition to the caps, Texas also instituted increased scrutiny of those applying for medical licenses in the state. This itself resulted in almost a one year backlog in the processing of new applications.

I think that it would be fair to assume then that they have took measures to prevent the lower end of the spectrum. Texas refuses to grant a license to physicians who have had disciplinary actions by other boards. I do think that those physicians who practice in high risk specialties such as OB and NSG would be tempted to go to a state with caps.

Posted by: throckmorton | October 5, 2007 3:09 PM

By Eric's twisted, idiotic logic, the exodus of doctors from the People's Republic of Massachussetts should result in a drop in medical licensing actions. Licensing actions steadily increased in that Commie state.

http://www.massmedboard.org/public/pdf/annual_report_2006_final.pdf

These licensing boards are totally run by doctor hating, biased, pro-lawyer, self-styled lawyer prosecutors. The doctor board members are craven, figurehead, worthless lawyer collaborators. They do as they are told by the cult criminal.

The vicious hunt is on for doctors from all sides by the cult criminal enterprise. As doctors are driven out, the Commies of Mass. deserve the Commie care they are getting. As people die on lengthening waiting lists, let the Mass. Commies seek care from their lawyers.

If a doctor faces one of these doctor hater, kangeroo lawyer cult criminal courts, he has an affirmative duty to defend clinical care. He must attack the cult criminal, and the craven doctor collaborators. Sue them as individuals. Take their boss to court, generate $millions in defense costs. They will lose their jobs, even if the doctor case gets a summary dismissal.

Start a campaign of shame by contacting their families, their churches, their employers, their patients about their disgraceful oppression of mostly innocent doctors. These lawyer criminals have gone after doctors trying to treat patients with horrible, permanent cancer pain. They have attacked adversaries in political partisan disputes. All enemies of clinical care must face personal destruction. To deter.

A database must be started, naming these enemies of clinical care, the same database that names the land pirates. All product and service providers shun and boycott these internal traitors. Let them live in the Stone Age, just as they attack our way of life. Next, patient groups take direct action in self-help against these internal traitors.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | October 5, 2007 9:50 PM

Just checked at the Texas Bar site. There are 79,000 lawyers practicing in Texas. The Bar took action against 10 last year. http://www.txboda.org/PDFs/ReportWEB.pdf

I would suggest that both the Texas Bar and the Medical Board step it up.

Posted by: throckmorton | October 6, 2007 10:00 AM

Claus said "These licensing boards are totally run by doctor hating, biased, pro-lawyer, self-styled lawyer prosecutors."

If you look at the makeup of the board, there's only one attorney, and he's a bankruptcy guy.

http://www.tmb.state.tx.us/boards/mbbios.php

Posted by: QC Injury Lawyer | October 8, 2007 9:46 AM

"Just checked at the Texas Bar site. There are 79,000 lawyers practicing in Texas. The Bar took action against 10 last year."

Virtually all Texas attorney disciplinary proceedings are handled by local grievance committees. All the results are published in the monthly Texas Bar Journal. The current month has 20 publicly announced findings (suspensions, reprimands, disbarment, resignations, etc) and an additional 28 private reprimands for lesser offenses.

Posted by: brooks | October 8, 2007 10:05 AM

QC: Lots of civilians feel absolutely qualified to judge doctors on this licensing board. No non-lawyer may judge a lawyer, except the Supreme Court.

At this site, the Executive Director has an MD, but also underwent the criminal cult indoctrination of the JD. This is what he says,

"Once that process [investigation] is complete, we turn the case over to our able attorneys, who pursue litigation and assist the board in taking appropriate disciplinary action when warranted."

These lawyers have self-dealt themselves all prosecutorial immunities and discretions. They then prosecute the doctor before yet another lawyer, a self-styled administrative law judge. The decision is handed down as a fait accompli to the Licensing Board for rubber stamping. The doctor defense lawyer will never attack this cult cabal, because docs come and go. The licensing specialist defense attorney depends on these cult criminals for his job. He does not want them deterred by any attempt at personal accountability. Doctors brought before these rigged kangaroo courts have an affirmative duty to defend clinical care from these vicious enemies of clinical care. He must demand some attorney sue the adversaries, including the administrative law judge, as individuals and seek their personal annihilation. Double costs must be demanded from their personal funds, and not from the taxpayer. Then haul each before the Federal Court for interference with contract relationships, an intentional tort, subject to exemplary damages. As partisan political, government hacks, their defense will cost a $million, far exceeding their value to the government. All will be fired within less than a year.

These are vicious, cult criminals on a rampage to plunder and destroy clinical care. They take their marching orders from the lawyer politicians running the three branches of government. All enemies of clinical care should be made to pay a high price for their aggression.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | October 8, 2007 10:07 PM

Thanks for this post. I used it on my website as a source --- and this blog, as a whole, is terrific.

Posted by: Phillip Martin | October 10, 2007 3:16 AM

Thanks! So glad to hear it.

Posted by: Kia | October 10, 2007 5:52 PM