As the State of Texas navigates medical malpractice tort reform and other improvements to the medical malpractice lawsuit system, one of the key concerns on both sides of the issue is how to attract more physicians to the state, as well as how to keep the doctors who are already here within the borders.
Many of those who agree with Texas’ tort reform laws, including a cap on medical malpractice rewards, have said that the changes to the law have resulted in doctors coming to Texas in droves – and many supports in tort reform in other states have pointed to Texas as an example of med mal reform resulting in an influx of new and returning medical professionals. But is that really the case?
A new study, “Does Tort Reform Affect Physician Supply? Evidence from Texas,” was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois College of Law and published by the Social Sciences Research Network. The study found that both claims put forth by the proponents of tort reform in Texas were false: doctors weren’t leaving Texas in large numbers before 2003 because of medical malpractice lawsuits, and doctors did not return to Texas in large numbers after the medical malpractice laws were enacted in 2003.
The study also found that both doctors who are considered low-risk for medical malpractice suits and doctors in high medical malpractice risk specialties were not affected by the 2003 tort reforms.
What else can we learn from this study? Perhaps that we should better research the effects of Texas medical malpractice reform – both before and after it is enacted.