More docs suggest tort reform works

Nine years after Texas lawmakers passed medical lawsuit reform, the number of Texas physicians treating patients has hit record highs, suggesting that tort reform works, according to the Texas Medical Association.

In September 2003, Texas passed legislation that capped damages for pain and suffering, limiting physicians' non-economic exposure to a quarter of a million dollars, according to Stephen Magee, economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business.

Since then, Texas has licensed an average of 3,135 new physicians every year since passing the legislation, up by a third (33 percent) before reform. This fiscal year, the number of new physicians jumped to a record 3,630, a 70 percent increase from 2001-2002.

The number of high-risk specialists practicing in the state also has grown nearly 18 percent faster than the state's population from 2005-2011, according to the state medical association.

OB/GYN physicians increased by 3 percent, and primary care physicians rose by 15 percent per-capita, General Surgery News reported. Although subspecialist surgeons jumped 4 percent, the number of general surgeons fell.

"All Texans can thank our 2003 liability reforms for a huge chunk of these new physicians who are caring for our sick and injured neighbors all over the state," Texas Medical Association President Michael E. Speer said in yesterday's statement.

Texas reports that the per-capita number of direct patient care physicians stands at an all-time high.

"Following the 2003 reforms, direct patient care physician growth improved in six of the eight underserved county groupings," Magee said.

For more information:
- see the Texas Medical Association statement  
- check out the McCombs research (.pdf)
- read the General Surgery News article

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