On Friday, October 5, 2007, the New York Times published an article on the “rush” of doctors coming to Texas to practice after the medical malpractice liability caps were passed in 2003. Below is Texas Trial Lawyers Association President Jay Harvey’s Letter to the Editor delivered to the New York Times the same day.
In your article “After Texas Caps Malpractice Awards, Doctors Rush to Practice There” (10/5/2007), the cheering section for stripping legal rights from patients injured by medical errors conveniently omits several telling statistics. According to the 2006 Census, states limiting the compensation for medical errors have 249 physicians per 100k population; states without caps have 283 per 100k. While hailed as a cure for counties without an obstetrician, three years after the cap was enacted Texas had four fewer counties with obstetricians.
Also not mentioned is the importance of fair access to the courts for families devastated by malpractice. Caps are routinely used by defendants to make pursuing claims more expensive than any possible recovery. Thus malpractice can be kept from public scrutiny and bad hospitals and doctors can continue to put patients at risk. Caps may be good new for bad doctors, but they are bad news for all patients.
Jay Harvey, President
Texas Trial Lawyers Association