Bill Will Protect Physicians in True Emergencies
By Jennifer Perkins

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Landmark reforms passed in 2003 reversed soaring liability insurance rates and helped recruit desperately needed physicians to Texas, especially obstetrician-gynecologists, neurosurgeons, and emergency physicians.  

A part of those reforms provided special liability protections for physicians who are called to attend to medical emergencies. To win a lawsuit regarding the care they received in those situations, plaintiffs must prove that the physician or nurse acted with “willful and wanton” negligence. 

But court rulings since 2003 have expanded the situations the “willful and wanton” protections cover. Those rulings, observers say, endangered those special protections. 

The recently concluded 2019 session of the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2362 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) to address that problem and ensure that physicians working in the emergency room and facing highrisk obstetrical cases requiring immediate and difficult decisions are protected from unwarranted lawsuits. 

HB 2362 would allow two notable exceptions to the willful and wanton protection:

  • When the patient’s treatment is unrelated to a medical emergency; and
  • For any physician or health care professional whose negligent act or negligent omission causes a stable patient to require emergency medical care. 

“In addition to creating these exceptions, HB 2362 reinforces willful and wanton protection for doctors and nurses that did not cause the emergency, as well as those that run to a patient at the onset of an emergency to try and save them,” six physician and health care organizations, including the Texas Medical Association, wrote in a letter urging Gov. Greg Abbott to sign the bill. “It also affords willful and wanton protection for doctors and nurses treating a pregnant woman who presents directly to the obstetrical suite, and not to the emergency room, in an emergent condition.” 

The other five organizations are the Texas Hospital Association, the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Dist. XI (Texas), and the Texas College of Emergency Physicians.

 

Last Updated On

May 30, 2019

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Jennifer Perkins

Advocacy Communication Manager

(512) 370-1469
Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins, a native Texan and University of Texas Longhorn, has worked in politics, public affairs, and advocacy for more than two decades, covering a litany of subject areas and a number of states, using a marketing-oriented communications style as informed by her MBA. Jennifer has two dogs, is a college football fanatic, loves to entertain, and prefers to be outdoors..

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