Texas residents believe that they should have the best medical care possible if they find themselves needing it. Good quality physicians, affordable medical costs, access to medical malpractice lawsuits and quality healthcare is something that all people deserve. A recent article pointed out some of Texas’s medical shortcomings and the state’s failure to follow acceptable standards.
Ten years after Governor Rick Perry made sweeping reform to the medical liability restrictions, Texas residents are now facing some major issues with respect to the quality of health care in the state. One reform made was capping medical malpractice lawsuits of noneconomic damages at $250,000. Those with limited financial means, including the elderly, the disabled, the young and the stay-at-home parents have a hard time being able to follow through with alleged medical malpractice claims. because the costs outweigh the limited financial benefits. Another reform provides that if a settlement offer is made and the plaintiff declines the offer, the plaintiff is then liable for the other party’s litigation costs if there is more than a 20% difference in the settlement offer and the ultimate judgment. This restriction makes it hard for corporations and other parties to be held liable for their actions publicly, because this offer of settlement law may bully victims of medical malpractice into accepting settlement offers and not bringing their cases to court. The law also brings to light a “responsible third party”. While a jury may find that they are helping the plaintiff by apportioning damages to this third party, often times the defendant has brought in “responsible third parties” who are bankrupt corporations, unknown criminals, or foreign entities from which the victim will never be able to collect damages. The final part of the law that is analyzed involves product liability. If a plaintiff believes that a product was not safe due to inadequate warning labels or improper design of a product, there is now a rebuttable presumption created in favor of the product manufacturer, based upon a showing that it complied with federal regulations or it used a warning label that was approved by the FDA. This deprives judges and juries of their ability to determine whether or not a product is actually safe and leaves the decisions up to underfunded federal departments.
Because of these reforms that were done 10 years ago in Texas, the state is now ranked near the bottom of states for the number of doctors who actually see patients, ranks last in quality of healthcare and its healthcare costs are rising faster than the national average. Texas patients are suffering from this legislation, which may be resulting in delayed treatment and medical negligence.
Source: Texas Watch, “Perry ignores facts about impact of medical liability restrictions,” Sept. 9, 2013