Texas Tort “Reform” and the New York Times
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:
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.
(Eric Turkewitz is a personal injury attorney in New York)
Labels: tort reform