Texas tort reform a "national success story"

Patients are benefiting, lawyers are seething and scheming:

Medical malpractice reform, we now know, is working for Texas.

We mean for the patients. It isn’t working for the trial lawyers, to be sure. But then again, it wasn’t intended to.

Alas, it comes as no surprise that, in light of all this good news, Texas’ lawsuit industry is still angling behind the scenes to bring back our state’s jackpot justice-happy past.

They aren’t doing it in plain view, of course. “More suing” and “higher legal fees” don’t quite resonate with your average Texan. Today, the battle over tort reform is raging in our courts, fought by lawyers parsing rules and trying to extrapolate lawmaker intentions.

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  • Anonymous

    How has it worked for injured patients? Has it reduced malpractice?

  • Anonymous

    They can sue for their economic damages, same as always. They can sue for somewhere between $250-$750K for noneconomic damages, depending on the situation. Since it is more likely multiple doctors and a hospital were involved, probably more often the higher number.

    Litigation doesn’t have any effect on malpractice, never did. It’s a jackpot for the lawyers.

    You really need to stop seething CJD it’s bad for your blood pressure. The sputtering will ruin your suit.

  • Anonymous

    Wondering how the victims of malpractice are doing must seem like seething and sputtering to you since you’ve never done it.

    So let’s see, doctor screws up and you can’t work and are peeing through a tube in your stomach for the rest of your life. That means the lost quality of life is worth about what the surgeon makes in a year.

    That seems fair.

    Why do you think lawyers aren’t still making a lot of money? Great trial lawyers just work for the other side and make lots of money doing that. It’s just that you can’t hire them when you’re the one suffering. How did you win with this again?

  • Anonymous

    2:12 did you just give CJD medical advice??

    ooooooops

  • Mike

    Anon 3:03

    Your argument is flawed, since you start with “doctor screws up”, when the reality is, it doesn’t MATTER if the doctor screwed up or not (to a bamboozled jury), as long as doubt is created by a clever attorney. So many cases turn on bad luck.

    The lawyers did it to themselves. They should have only pursued the cases with clear malpractice, where the science supports that mistakes were made, and the harm is obvious, without the need for professional “expert” witnesses.

    And I’m pretty sure John Edwards and his ilk wouldn’t have the millions they have if the system had been coreected years ago, so I’m pretty sure it HAS hurt the lawyers.

  • Throckmorton

    “How do you pee through your stomache?”

  • Anonymous

    Mike, of course it’s bad luck. You are probably negligent on the road at least once a month, but fortunately no one is in front of you when you’re bent down trying to pick up your phone, or turned around telling the kids to be quiet. But every once in awhile you’re not lucky, and then you hurt someone. It may be bad luck, but it’s also negligence.

    Talented lawyers like John Edwards who are smart enough to put a complex case together and try it will always have work. Business files three times as many suits as individuals (that’s all individual claims, not just tort). The Fortune 500 will pay whatever is asked by someone like him to have him handle their case.

    But I don’t understand how making it so you can’t hire him is good for you.

    As for expert witnesses, that’s a requirement put in by the docs. You don’t like it, have your lobbyists lobby to get the state legislatures to take it out.

  • Mike

    Anon 7:41

    Again, your argument is flawed. You say it’s bad luck and compare it to negligance. I’ll say it gaian, it’s just BAD LUCK! For insatnce, fluids given, patient has overload, dies. BAd luck. Or, fluids not given, BP drops, pt dies. BAD LUCK.

    No one (especially laypeople) EVER want to think it’s just bad luck. There always has to be a mistake. Someone must ALWAYS be at fault. Every side effect must be known and predicted with 100% accuracy. Docs must know, TO THE OUNCE how much fluid/blood can be handled. We MUST know who out of a 1000 will not go as planned, even when nothing different appeared in their exam/labs/vitals/etc.

    I repeat: it isn’t negligence, just because you and a lawyer say it’s so.

    And if attorneys didn’t stand to lose so much, then why would they be putting up a stink? And don’t tell me it’s for “patient advocacy”. Otherwise (unlike doctors) they wouldn’t do it for free.

  • Anonymous

    Yes and no. Meeting the clinical standard of care is one issue. The other issue is whether or not the expert testimony proffered is admissible. While questionable clinical causation testimony will almost always pass the low fruit of the “general acceptance” (non-novel even if what is generally accepted is non-sense) test states following Frye, it should be tossed out on its ear under the more stringent FRE 702, Daubert, Kumho Tire tests. Of the legion of legal cases, each and every PI case in which the profiteering provider bases their claim of causation on the “word of an involved litigant” would fail the error rate segment of the test(s). For this situation, it will either take clinicians to admit the truth, judges to stringently apply the rules of evidence to all experts or for someone (*) to show that the potential error rate for “clinical causation testimony” is near 100%.

    ~Criminallopath~

  • scalpel

    The car accident analogy is ridiculous. A car accident requires negligence, otherwise no collisions will ever occur.

    People will die every day, guaranteed, whether medical negligence occurred or not. If their family and attorney are lucky, the deceased will have visited a physician soon before death, so that they can buy a lottery ticket to ease the pain of nature.

  • Anonymous

    “No one (especially laypeople) EVER want to think it’s just bad luck”

    Nonsense. Most people do attribute things to bad luck. The vast majority of medical negligence never results in a claim. Most people who are in car wrecks don’t file suit. Tort claims are down over the past decade. You know what’s up? Businesses suing businesses – why don’t we cap their damages and make it harder for those plaintiffs to find lawyers?

    “attorneys didn’t stand to lose so much, then why would they be putting up a stink? And don’t tell me it’s for “patient advocacy”. Otherwise (unlike doctors) they wouldn’t do it for free”

    Mike, who else is speaking for injured patients? You? Your insurer? If doctors are doing all their work for free, they sure do get paid well.

    “t. If their family and attorney are lucky, the deceased will have visited a physician soon before death, so that they can buy a lottery ticket to ease the pain of nature”

    Yeah, that’s a real lottery ticket. Want to trade places with them?

  • Anonymous

    The injured party didn’t get the lottery ticket, it’s the lawyer who won the lottery.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, because there is no work involved, or financial risk to him, right? You know this based on your extensive experience funding and trying medical malpractice cases, of course.

    It’s the same thing as buying a lottery ticket at the gas n sip, eh?

    Do you think before you type?

  • Anonymous

    For the lawyer it is. I’m sure it does cost a lot for the lawyer to shop around the junk science for an opinion, bribe judges like the big PI lawyer in Mississippi, find the one doctor capable of diagnosing both silicosis and asbestosis in the same patient, a skill missed by all the radiologists in the country.

    There’s a reason why lawyers have a reputation just above drug dealers, and it’s earned every single day. Judge Jack put a stop to asbestosis and silicosis sleaze, and the people of Texas put the brakes on med-mal sleaze. The people of Texas benefit demonstrably, article after article, and it’s actually fun to watch you seethe CJD.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, there are horrible lawyers out there. There are also horrible doctors, and I think it’s only fair that we judge the many by the few. I was just reading about a doc who was dismissed from practice because he was doing surgeries that were not medically indicated and lying to the patients that they were. I’m sure you would do the same thing, because you’re a doctor as well.

    How did the victims of sleazy doctors like you benefit because your insurance premiums went down like they did in the non-capped states?

  • Anonymous

    No I wouldn’t do the same thing. In fact, I’ve been a plaintiff witness once, a fact witness once, and reported two doctors to the Board.

    See, I’m a physician, and we have ethics. In your line of work CJD, legal ethics means when you steal money from a client, you agonize over whether you should split it with your partner.

  • Anonymous

    But I do agree, not all lawyers are horrible. That 99% of crooked lawyers gives the 1% of honest lawyers a bad name.

  • Anonymous

    If declines in rates were due to the stock market, etc, and not due to reforms, how do you explain rates going up in other states? In my state, rates have gone up year after year.

    More likely, conditions in individual states, including those without caps, are responsible for changes in premiums.

    In Texas, they didn’t go down until they enactged caps. In my state, rates continue to go up. It is NOT the stock market.

  • Anonymous

    Texas enacted caps in 2003. The economy started to improve late that year and has continued to. Texas insurers, after raising rates 150%, have given back about 1/3 of that. Have they been paying out less? Who knows, they’re not telling and you don’t know.

    Texas insurers, like those in all states, whether they screwed the injured or not, has reduced rates as the economy improved. And, if it tanks again, we’ll have another “crisis”, like we do during every economic downturn.

    How have insurers been able to convince physicians that their insurers should be guaranteed profitability?

  • Anonymous

    “See, I’m a physician, and we have ethics. In your line of work CJD, legal ethics means when you steal money from a client, you agonize over whether you should split it with your partner.”

    Your profession has ethics? Since when did arrogance and greed become ethics? Again, if you want to paint everyone by the actions of a few, you better be careful.

  • Anonymous

    “Again, if you want to paint everyone by the actions of a few, you better be careful”

    Kind of like your inability to critically analyze research data and understand the conclusions in relation to the inappropriateness of given malpractice claims?

  • Anonymous

    “Kind of like your inability to critically analyze research data and understand the conclusions in relation to the inappropriateness of given malpractice claims?”

    What am I failing to properly analyze? That the CP literature says that brain injuries can cause CP? That brain injuries during birth can be caused by malpractice? That no single study has ever ruled out malpractice as a cause of CP?

    It’s ironic a physician who swallows insurance company “statistics” wholeheartedly would lecture others on critical analysis. Aren’t you the guy who believes Texas is a success, but the fact that other states without “reform” also had reductions doesn’t enter into your thinking?

  • Anonymous

    You can call me greedy when I ask for $52 million for ruined dry cleaning.

    No, it takes a law degree to develop that kind of arrogance and greed.

    The Korean dry cleaner closed his shop. You probably think that’s a loke. What’s the word again, “inconvenienced”. I remember that one used to describe a doc sued by a patient claimin paralysis…..a patient who was filmed walking around the neighborhood, taking out the garbage.

  • Anonymous

    You called me greedy and I’ve never asked for $52 million for dry cleaning.

    Seriously, a doc calling someone else arrogant and greedy is the pot calling the kettle.

  • Patrick

    Great system? When they passed tort reform they also changed up the Workers Compensation system. Let me tell you my story. I am in my mid 40′s and I am a long haul truck driver. I injured my back in March of 2008. The MRI and Myleogram showed that I had 3 slipped disc (the lowest 3 of the spine). I had to see only doctors that were part of the carriers group. Sort of like an HMO system. The surgeon and pain mgmt specialist both agreed that I should receive 3 epidural steroid injections. And if my condition was not improved then they would seek authorization for surgery. Every single action had to be approved by the carriers case manager. Each request would take almost 2 weeks for approval or denial. Some request took 3 weeks. My primary dr. asked for MRI that took 10 days. He then needed to refer me to a surgeon…2 weeks. And then 10 more days for appt. By the time they then got me a pain manager and requested approval for the first epidural steroid injection we were several months into this. After my first epidural steroid injection the carrier requested the state to order me to see a “Designated Doctor” to determine MMI and IR rating. MMI is maximum medical improvement, IR is impairment rating. The designated doctor is suppose to be impartial. My visit with him lasted 10 minutes. He never even discussed my MRI, X-ray or Myleogram. He had his mind made up before he ever saw me. He would not even take into consideration that I was just barely into my treatment program. 2 weeks later I find out that he found me to be at MMI which means I am as well as I will ever be It also means that the carrier which in my case is AIG can discontinue my weekly payments. He also found me to be impaired but he gave me a Zero for impairment rating. I got a lawyer and it took several months but I finally got my surgery and I am much improved. We had to send a post operative report and a letter from surgeon showing that I am much improved to the state and they send it to the designated doctor. He still would not change his mind about MMI. So my Workers Comp payments were cut off in November of 2008. I use to earn an average of $1000 per week. So I was receiving a weekly check of $700. The system is set up as if the designated doctor is God. And you almost have no chance of reinstatement of benefits if you cannot get the designated dr. to change his mind. My wife was laid off in April of 2009. And since then we have had to move 2 times because we now are dirt poor. We now live with friends. YEAH WHAT A GREAT SYSTEM!