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Governor's words mask potential for worsened conditions

Texas residents want the best medical care available. All people in need of medical care, whether for an everyday illness or something more severe and complicated, deserve to receive the most thorough and comprehensive treatments. Recently the Governor of Texas touted the success of his tort reform legislation in relation to healthcare in the state, although this success may be exaggerated.

At a recent town hall meeting in Hidalgo County, Mr. Perry cited the benefits that have happened since his 2003 tort reforms began affecting healthcare in Texas. Governor Perry talked about how before these reforms, doctors were allegedly caught up in a stream of constant malpractice lawsuits which affected their practice and forced them to move out of Texas. Since the tort reform went into effect the number of direct care physicians in Texas rose 24% while the state's population rose 16%. Tort reform capped out the noneconomic damages awarded against doctors to $250,000, among other changes.

On the surface, the number of medical malpractice cases have dropped. These types of cases have dipped because of the higher cost involved in bringing them to court, since expensive medical experts now need to be hired. Along with that drop the state of Texas is still severely short in the number of direct-care physicians. Moreover, fewer physicians are accepting patients on Medicare or Medicaid.

Due to the potential decrease in quality care, especially for those on Medicare and Medicaid, there may be cases of failure to recognize medical problems by medical staff. A delayed diagnosis or delayed treatment of an ailment can cause a worsened condition and prove detrimental to the crucial trust between physician and patient. An attorney skilled in medical malpractice may be able to help those who have fallen between the cracks in the Texas healthcare system. It is important for patients to know their legal rights and to hold medical staff accountable for any failure to diagnose.

Source: modernhealthcare.com, "Texas gov. touts effects of tort reform on doctors," Christopher Sherman, Sep. 10, 2013

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