In 2003, the Texas Legislature and Texas voters wisely passed sweeping liability reforms to combat health care lawsuit abuse, reverse skyrocketing professional liability insurance premiums, and ensure Texans' access to high-quality medical care.
As a result, sick and injured Texans have more physicians providing a broader array of services and caring for more patients with complex or high-risk problems. Physicians across the state also have found it easier to recruit new physicians from across the country, especially those practicing high-risk specialties and in high-risk locations such as South Texas. Texas' medical liability reforms have been good for Texas and good for Texas patients. It's critical that Texas be able to protect these important reforms.
We must ensure that Texas' medical liability reforms are not jeopardized in the final compromise bill. Neither Texas physicians nor any other physician in the country should be exposed to new causes of action. We must make sure the final health care bill contains plain language clearly stating that the new clinical standards do not create new causes of action and that states' existing liability reforms, such as Texas' cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases, are not preempted.
We believe the language below should be inserted into the final compromise bill. The first paragraph (a) spells out clearly that clinical guidelines are just that - guidelines for patient care based on what is generally agreed to be the best approach for caring for a patient with a certain condition. Medicine, however, remains as much an art as a science. Guidelines change constantly, and certainly each of our patients presents with his or her own unique set of physical, social, and family circumstances.
As physicians, we are trained to weigh all of those circumstances when deciding upon a course of treatment for an individual patient. It is essential, therefore, that the clinical guidelines defined in section 431(7) of the act not become de facto legal standards for future medical liability claims.
SEC. 3512 CONSTRUCTION REGARDING STANDARD OF CARE
(a) In General - The development, recognition, or implementation of any guideline or other standard under any provision of this Act shall not be construed to establish the standard of care or duty of care owed by health care providers to their patients in any medical malpractice action or claim (as defined in section 431 of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 [42 U.S.C. 11151(7)]).
(b) Savings Clause for State Medical Malpractice Laws - Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to preempt, modify or impair State law governing legal standards or procedures used in medical malpractice cases, including the authority of a State to make or implement such law.
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