2001 Legislative Compendium: Tort Reform/Medical Liability

Physician Liens for Recovery of Emergency Service Payment | Bad Faith Cause of Action | Summary Judgment | Physician Liability Coverage

PHYSICIAN LIENS FOR RECOVERY OF EMERGENCY SERVICE PAYMENT

Senate Bill 583 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Kyle Janek (R-Houston) provides that physicians may obtain a lien on lawsuit judgments and settlements for services provided in the emergency room as well as subsequent physician services provided in the hospital within seven days of the day care is first given.  The bill does not apply if the physician accepts or has access to third-party payment from a patient's health insurance coverage.

Tort Reform Near Misses

Several tort-related bills were filed, both pro- and anti-tort reform, including bills relating to offer and settlement, class actions, negligent credentialing, product liability, limits on damages of hospitals doing charity care, cost bond and expert reports, screening panels, and others. Most of the bills died in committee. Bills that did manage to pass committee failed in the House Calendars Committee, which determines the bills that will be heard on the House floor, or failed to receive sufficient votes to bring up debate on the Senate floor.

Issues or bills that are likely to re-emerge in 2003 include the following:

BAD FAITH CAUSE OF ACTION

HB 1905 by Rep. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would have created a cause of action against a plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney who brings a medical liability claim in bad faith.  The bill passed out of committee but died in House Calendars, the committee responsible for setting the agenda for House floor debate.

Given the recent rise in malpractice claims against physicians, particularly along the Texas-Mexico border, TMA and local medical societies will continue to advocate legislation similar to HB 1905. Tort reform for physicians and other health care providers is likely to be a necessary but contentious debate during the 2003 legislative session.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

HB 740 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) would have made it more difficult for defendants to win motions for summary judgment.

PHYSICIAN LIABILITY COVERAGE

A provision in a bill providing certain hospitals with a cap on damages would have required physicians with privileges to carry $1 million in liability insurance. The provision was deleted from the bill, and the bill eventually died.

Tort Reform/Medical Liability TMA Staff Contact

  • C.J. Francisco, JD, Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, (512) 370-1339

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