IN THE NEWS

2018

Improper jury charge nixes $1.9 million verdict

On May 25 the Texas Supreme Court tossed a $1.9 million judgment in a medical liability lawsuit over a botched hysterectomy. The high court ruled that the judge’s jury instructions improperly allowed the jury to consider an invalid theory of liability.

The Benge case marks the first instance where TAPA filed briefs not only in the Supreme Court but also in the court of appeals.  Because the focus of the TAPA amicus brief was on the jury charge error, much of the arguments and citations to record cited in the Supreme Court opinion were taken directly from the TAPA brief. The TAPA amicus brief was instrumental in ensuring that Texas law on informed consent remains intact.

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TAPA brief in Benge v. Williams

Lien on me: Reimbursement rates ruling seen as game-changer for medical billing litigation

A recent Texas Supreme Court decision that forces a Houston hospital to disclose reimbursement rates charged to insured patients versus uninsured patients will almost certainly be felt in so-called hospital lien cases, some Texas attorneys believe the decision could be applied to a range of other civil cases in which the reasonableness of a party’s charges is at issue.

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Judge lets one-of-a-kind 'futile care' law stand

By Todd Ackerman

September 22, 2017

Updated: September 23, 2017 1:23pm

In a victory for Texas' medical community, a Harris County state district judge Friday rejected a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that allows doctors to withdraw life-sustaining...

TAPA Amicus Brief in Kelly v. Houston Methodist

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Are payout increases in Texas a bridf upturn or a growing trend?

For the fifth consecutive year, Texas ranked near the bottom nationally in medical liability payouts per capita.

Last year only five states prouduced lower per capita payouts than Texas, according to data gleaned from the National Practitioner's Data Bank.

But that trend may be reversing.  A just-released study by Diedrick Healthcare reported total medical liability payout...

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Texas Physicians inject billions into lone star state's economy

Texas Medical Association

January 8, 2018

New study shows physicians support more than 670,000 Texas jobs, and generate nearly $118 billion in economic activity “Whether in small towns or large cities, Texas doctors care for our Communities, ...

See Study PDF

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2017

Medical school on the cheap: why becoming a doctor in Texas is a bargain

Texas Tribune

October 30, 2017

When Caitlin Comfort decided to go to medical school, the Yale grad had her heart set on staying on the East Coast. But her wallet had different ideas. Facing $90,000 per year price tags for tuition, she said no thanks, and started applying to schools back home in Texas.

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Publication Ranks Texas Second Nationally as Best Place to Practive Medicine

With rising rates of physician burnout, changing state legislation governing healthcare, and numerous other factors weighing heavily on the profession, many doctors are looking for a change to continue practicing medicine.

2017 Best States to Practice: The Top Five

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Best States to Practice Interactive Map

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Telemedicine services aid emergency care in rural Texas

By Joseph Goedert

Published October 30 2017, 7:51am EDT

A pilot program in Texas that went live 10 months ago is linking ambulance paramedics with five small hospitals in five expansive counties across a vast rural area of the state.

Initially funded for $500,000 over two years by legislation, the funds actually...

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The 20 most affordable medical schools

Although being a doctor can be a rewarding profession, the cost of medical school can be a huge barrier for aspiring students. It can also lead to massive student debt – around $164,800 on average, according to a new Student Loan Hero study.

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Texas continues to attract large numbers of new physicians

The Texas Medical Board licensed a record 4,719 new physicians for the fiscal year that ended last month. This year’s total is nearly 10% greater than the previous historic high of 4,295 set two years ago.

Texas has licensed 48,908 new physicians since the passage of lawsuit reforms 14 years ago. This equates to 1,283 more new licensees per year than occurred during the medical liability crisis years of 2000-2003.

“The trends are irrefutable,” said Austin internist Howard Marcus, chairman of Texas Alliance for Patient Access. “The number of licenses granted continues at record levels,” he said. “Physicians per capita continue to show significant gains which is no easy accomplishment given our fast-growing population.

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Plaintiffs Avoiding Tort Reform

Court decision helps ensure patient access to care across state lines

by JAMES WILLIAMS, DO, MS, FACEP

A recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision has huge professional liability ramifications for physicians treating patients from another state. The March 13, 2017, ruling is of importance to emergency physicians who, under EMTALA, are unable to deny a patient care due to illness, injury, inability to pay, or lack of health history.

The issue at stake in Montano v. Frezza was which state's laws claim legal jurisdiction when a patient who resides in one state (New Mexico, in this case) receives care in another (Texas, in this case).

See published article in ACEPNow

 

Texas relaxes rules to allow out-of-state doctors to help Harvey victims

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some 213 out-of-state doctors have come to Texas working under a temporary license to provide disaster relief.

News accounts report doctors and nurses have traveled from as far as Oregon, Ohio, and New Jersey to assist in the disaster response.

“Not only have these healthcare workers aided patients, but they’ve provided welcome relief to hard-working doctors and nurses in need of a break,” said Dr. Howard Marcus, chairman of Texas Alliance for Patient Access. “Often the care is rendered in less than ideal conditions due to damage from the storm,” he said.

On August 30, the governor waived all necessary statutes and rules allowing out-of-state doctors to obtain a temporary license.

Healthcare workers employed by a hospital, licensed and in good standing in another state are eligible for temporary licensure. The temporary permit is good for 30 days.

The governor’s suspension will remain in effect until the disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

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2017's Best and Worst States For Doctors

WalletHubb

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Texas isn't just great for doctors; professionals across the medical field are thriving in the Lone Star State. In fact, Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio rank among the best cities for registered nurses.

 

Texas doctor can't be sued in New Mexico, court rules

Albuquerque Journal March 14, 2017

A former Texas Tech University surgeon accused of botching a Curry County woman’s gastric bypass surgery in 2004 can’t be sued for malpractice in New Mexico, the state Supreme Court has ruled.  The state’s high court issued its decision Monday.  “We reverse the Court of Appeals and the district court,” Justice Edward L. Chávez wrote in his majority opinion, which was signed onto by Justices Petra Jimenez Maes and Judith K. Nakamura and Judge Linda M. Vanzi, a Court of Appeals judge designated to hear the case. “The district court shall dismiss Montaño’s suit without prejudice.”

The case has garnered significant attention in both New Mexico and Texas, with three dozen doctor groups and hospitals in both states signing on to a friend of the court brief in 2015. They argued that allowing the lawsuit to move forward could have a disastrous effect on patient care in eastern New Mexico – where doctors are scarce – because it might make Texas providers reluctant to care for New Mexico patients.

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High court ruling applauded

Albuquerque Journal, March 26, 2017

As a physician in Curry County, I often see the need for rural patients to seek care in nearby Texas. In some cases, care that is available less than an hour away in Texas could mean the difference between life and death.

There is only one hospital with a Level I trauma center that can provide comprehensive service – University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. New Mexico has no Level II trauma centers to collaborate with UNMH. When patients in rural parts of New Mexico receive emergency treatment and have been stabilized, they have two choices: A 3½-hour drive to Albuquerque, or about half that to two Level I trauma centers in Texas.

That’s why I applaud the New Mexico Supreme Court’s recent decision that recognizes that cross-border medical services in Texas are essential to New Mexico residents. This is the outcome of the court’s ruling that Texas physicians serving New Mexico patients in Texas will be able to serve...

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Bill seeking to inflate Texas' med-mal cap first of its kind

SE Texas Record, April 24, 2017

AUSTIN – Since the courts were apparently no help, those wishing to inflate Texas’ medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages are now turning to the state legislature.

Without little to no fanfare, state Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) introduced House Bill 719 on Dec. 21, a piece of legislation seeking to collapse the fixed med-mal cap and adjust it for inflation each year.

“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” said Wu, a private practice attorney. “If there’s no recovery, a lawyer won’t take the case. It’s a matter of justice for people. If people cannot have their grievances settled in the courts, then our system breaks down.”

The prospect of an inflated cap, which was set at $250,000 per medical defendant in 2003, has rallied some groups into action.

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2016

Study ranks Texas 6th best state for docs, expert points to tort reform

A recent study found Texas is one of the best states for physicians to practice medicine, a high ranking made possible in part due to the passage of tort...

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HB 270, the Out-of-State Access Provider Bill, signed into law by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez

New Mexico lawmakers crafted a legislative solution to protect access to medical care for the residents of Eastern and Southern New Mexico. For a Texas health care provider to benefit from the statute, it will be necessary for the health care provider to have in its agreement with the patient a choice of law and choice of forum provision. If the agreement with the patient does not contain such a provision, then HB 270 will not apply.

Summary of House Bill 270

Proposed patient consent for voluntary care

Proposed consent regarding emergency care

The footnotes pertain to why we chose to include or exclude language.

This information should be used only in consultation with your attorney, who will advise you on how the language should be crafted for and used by your hospital, nursing home or physician practice.

 

New Mexico Legislature Acts to Protect Patients’ Access to Care in Texas

Texas doctors and hospitals will continue to receive a full range of liability protections even when treating New Mexico patients. That issue was in doubt until the New Mexico Legislature took decisive action February 17.

The legislation preserves vital access to Texas physicians and hospitals for residents of Eastern New Mexico who routinely cross the state line for care.

Clearly, the New Mexico legislature recognized that access to health care is a public policy priority. Without legislation, thousands of patients would lose ready access to primary and specialized care, said Dr. Howard Marcus, chairman of Texas Alliance for Patient Access.

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2015

New Mexico Lawsuit Threatens Access to Care

News story produced by and aired on Fox 34 @ Nine, Lubbock, TX

November 24, 2015

 

Medical  liability reform at risk in state supreme court case

AMA Wire

November 7, 2015

One of the nation’s leading medical liability reform laws could be undercut in a case before a state supreme court.

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Austin ranks among America’s best cities for registered nurses

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The 10 Best Cities For Registered Nurses

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Goodbye Standard of Care, Hello Reasonable Practice

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The term “standard of care” has been misused and abused. It is time to replace it with a phrase which more accurately conveys the realities of modern medicine.

The legal definition of the “standard of care” is that which a reasonably competent and skilled physician would administer under the same or similar circumstances. Failing to meet the standard of care, one might argue, is simply another way of stating that a physician was negligent. However, it seems that many people don’t understand the nuance.

For these reasons, we propose that the term “standard of care” be retired and replaced with “reasonable practice.” The terms are legally equivalent, but “reasonable practice” is far less prone to misinterpretation by experts and juries.

 

Rape is not Health Care

The stunning headline might have caught your eye; it certainly caught mine. A big piece of it, though, is flat out wrong. “Doctor accused in rape unlikely to be held liable in civil court,” the Houston Chronicle headline read. “The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that rape in some circumstances is covered by medical malpractice laws,” the author wrote further down in the story. Wrong. Texas Alliance for Patient Access Chair Howard Marcus, MD, set her straight. Here’s his statement in full: “Rape is reprehensible". Neither the legislature not the courts gave medical liability protections to this criminal offense. Most recently, in Ross v. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, the Texas Supreme Court set forth a seven-factor test to determine whether an injury was or wasn’t a health care claim. The Ross decision makes clear that rape is not related to the provision of health care, and is not a protected act simply because it occurred in a health care setting. The court has left no room for confusion.”

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Historic Senate Vote Provides Medical Liability Protections

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Texas SC opines no expert report needed in slip & fall against hospital

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Standard of Care Language Included in Medicare 'Doc Fix' Bill / Soaring Eagle Award

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The Effect of Malpractice Reform on Emergency Department Care

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12-Years Post-Liability Reform, Texas Hits another Record in New Physicians

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2014

KLBJ News Radio / Austin

August 26, 2014

For years Texas has experienced a shortage of doctors, but as KLBJ's Perry Watson tells us, a new report shows that trend is beginning to change.

Listen to the KLBJ News Report

 

RAND researchers say California's Prop 46 would likely reduce the state's physicians

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Texas Near the Top in U.S. Physician Recruitment

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Health Affairs Blog:

Dissecting the argument for and against California’s Proposition 46.

Academics say raising the cap would more likely increase health care costs than increase patient safety or quality of care.

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2013

Tort Reformers and Trial Lawyers agree on bill that helps the injured

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Texas Hospital Association: Celebrating 10 years of health care liability

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2012

Physician Growth Spiking, Especially in Central Texas

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Tort reform has had just the impact we desired

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Study shows increase in Texas doctors due to liability reforms

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Healthy Signs: Record number of new doctors is good news in East Texas

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Federal Judge Finds Texas Cap Constitutional

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Texas physician population surges since Tort Reform Legislation in 2003

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Healthy Benefits of Medical Liability Reform

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A Tale of Two States

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2011

Absurd and easily refutable: Refuting Texas Watch's claims

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Thanks for the doctors, New York

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Better Care, Thanks to Tort Reform

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2009

Texas tort reform lures doctors

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2008

Texas hospitals reinvesting savings from Medical Liability Reform

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Tort reform will rescue doctors

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2007

More doctors in Texas after Malpractice Caps

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More doctors means tort reform efforts worked

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Influx of doctors overwhelms Texas Board

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2006

Study: 4 in 10 medical malpractice cases groundless

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Doctors face Texas medical board's watchful eye

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2005

Contrary to what study says, malpractice lawsuits drive costs

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AMA takes Texas off its liability crisis list

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Law school review produces 'Legislative Intent Roadmap' on Texas' landmark lawsuit reforms

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Contact: Jon Opelt at opelt@tapa.info

P. O. Box 684157  |  Austin, Texas 78768-4157  |  2301 South Capital of Texas Highway  |  Building J-101 Austin, Texas 78746

512.703.2156

Contact: Jon Opelt at opelt@tapa.info

P. O. Box 684157  |  Austin, Texas 78768-4157  |  2301 South Capital of Texas Highway

Building J-101 Austin, Texas 78746

512.703.2156

Contact: Jon Opelt at opelt@tapa.info

P. O. Box 684157  |  Austin, Texas 78768-4157

2301 South Capital of Texas Highway

Building J-101 Austin, Texas 78746  |  512.703.2156