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Governor Recognizes 15 Years of Texas Tort Reforms

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It’s a milestone so big for Texas medicine, it was worthy of official recognition from the governor.

Gov. Greg Abbott honored the 15th anniversary of Texas’ medical liability reforms on Sept. 1 with an official proclamation.

“Passed in 2003, Texas’ medical liability reforms have been nationally considered the gold standard for medical liability legislation,” the proclamation says. “Tort reform has significantly reduced lawsuits and liability costs in our state and contributed greatly to the increasing number of doctors practicing in Texas.”

House Bill 4, the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003, went into effect on Sept. 1 of that year, thanks to advocacy by the Texas Medical Association, Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA), Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT), and others. The same month, Texas voters approved Proposition 12, an amendment to the Texas Constitution that authorized the state legislature to cap noneconomic damages in health care liability cases.

That vote protected the law’s $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages against individual physicians, and a total “stacked” noneconomic cap of $750,000 if health care institutions also are found liable. The law features other crucial protections, such as providing personal immunity to physicians working for governmental entities, including state medical schools. There is no cap on economic damages.

“Texas’ medical liability reforms have been nationally considered the gold standard for medical liability legislation,” Governor Abbott said today. “Tort reform has significantly reduced lawsuits and liability costs in our state and contributed greatly to the increasing number of doctors practicing in Texas.”

The September issue of Texas Medicine looked at how those reforms have shaped health care in Texas, including adding to an influx of physicians in the state.



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