Perry Stresses Texas’ Need for Med-Mal Reform

March 10, 2003

Emphasizing the urgency of medical malpractice reform in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry pushed forward his appeal for decisive legislative action to stop the medical lawsuit abuse crisis facing Texans.

At a news conference at South Austin Hospital Perry was joined by Sen. Jane Nelson, Rep. Jaime Capelo and Rep. Joe Nixon, authors of medical malpractice reform legislation.

Perry said Texans’ ability to get health care is harmed by frivolous lawsuits brought by personal injury trial lawyers and escalating jury awards, settlements and legal fees. In Texas, seven of eight malpractice claims are dismissed with no payment.

“Because of frivolous lawsuits, doctors are practicing defensive medicine, limiting their practices, and either taking their practice somewhere else or abandoning medicine altogether,” Perry said. “All across Texas, and especially in regions like South Texas, physicians are seeing their rates skyrocket or their policies dropped.”

Perry reiterated the need for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, noting that more than 20 states have capped subjective, non-economic damages and lowered malpractice insurance premiums.

“Comprehensive medical malpractice reform removes the incentive for lawsuit abuse through a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, unclogs our courts of frivolous cases, and gives the Texas Board of Medical examiners the tools they need to remove from practice the small percentage of bad actors who should not have a license,” Perry said.

The governor said he supports the establishment of special malpractice courts or the designation of expert judges to hear malpractice cases to help the legal system resolve malpractice disputes more quickly.

Perry also said Texas must improve the State Board of Medical Examiners’ ability to police the medical profession and safeguard patient care through enforcement of licensing laws and consistent disciplinary enforcement actions.

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