Protect Patients Now

Volume 5, Issue  12 DECEMBER 2010 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

Texas Battles Bogus Claims
Investing in Lawsuit Abuse
Editorials Encourage Action on Liability Reform
Happy Holidays from Protect Patients Now

Texas Battles Bogus Claims

As we’ve seen since landmark medical liability reforms were passed in 2003, Texas has become a bastion for business and placed a welcome mat out for new doctors. Patient access to care has increased tremendously and businesses are hiring and growing. But Texas Governor Rick Perry isn’t done yet.

A Wall Street Journal article this month details Governor Perry’s proposal to build upon the state’s successful legal reforms passed in 2003 by enacting a “loser pays” rule, which would require plaintiffs to pick up the legal costs of their targets if they lose their suits.

The lawyers and firms that file claims determined to be groundless would, in almost all cases, pay a penalty – a downside they’d have to weigh against their chances of any award. Deserving patients would benefit with the creation of new legal channels to expedite smaller claims and speed up compensation.

Governor Perry isn’t afraid to take on the personal injury lawyers on behalf of patients in Texas. His victories have translated to a 60% increase in the number of doctors applying to practice in state – and that’s a win for everyone. To read more about Governor Perry’s latest medical liability reform effort, click here.

Justice Denied

The failure of New York to resolve its medical liability and access to care crisis is having huge budget implications, writes Leah McCormack, M.D., President of the Medical Society of the State of New York, and is denying justice to those who have legitimate liability claims.

An op-ed in the Albany Times Uniondetails the inconsistencies in New York’s broken medical liability system, which has driven liability insurance premiums for New York physicians sky high – threatening patient access to quality medical care.
Even with such an unpredictable system, there is one constant – and that is how regularly the physicians who treat high-risk patients are sued. Sixty-five percent of New York’s neurosurgeons and nearly 50 percent of surgical specialists and OB-GYNs are sued every five years.

With $130 million spent each year to provide excess medical malpractice insurance coverage beyond what a physician typically purchases, medical liability reform is an essential step in closing New York’s $1 billion budget gap. To read more about the consequences for patients if New York fails to act on medical liability reform, click here.

A Frontier for Reform

America’s last frontier is often overlooked as a safe haven for patients and doctors, but the 2010 U.S. Tort Liability Index has recently ranked Alaska as having the best tort climate in the country.

Reasonable limits on non-economic damages have kept health care expenses in Alaska low, and medical liability costs in the state are the sixth lowest in the country. Strong expert witness laws have also been effective in shielding doctors from medical lawsuit abuse – keeping them in the exam room instead of the courtroom.

States that have placed limits on non-economic damages, such as Alaska and Texas, have an average of 12 percent more physicians per capita than states without limits. Protect Patients Now supports federal medical liability reform legislation that includes reforms like these with a proven track record of success at the state level. To read more about the positive effects of Alaska’s reforms, click here.

Happy Holidays from Protect Patients Now

With the holiday season and a new year upon us, Protect Patients Now wishes you and your family much health and happiness.

We are anticipating a busy and productive year in 2011, with hints from the newly elected Congress that medical liability reform will be at the top of the legislative agenda in the US House of Representatives.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you in the New Year. Together, we can stop medical lawsuit abuse!

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