In 2003, Texas enacted medical malpractice tort reforms. The issue of tort reform generally arose out of the so-called “medical malpractice crisis”, which has been blogged about in this space before. The “medical malpractice crisis” is the belief that, as a result of too many frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits being filed, which physicians and their insurance companies have to defend, medical liability insurance carriers have increased insurance premiums to the point where practicing medicine was becoming cost-prohibitive for physicians in certain states. The result – or feared result – was that doctors would flee to more doctor-friendly states. A soon-to-be-released Texas study, however, would seem to refute that.
According to a draft of the study, which was conducted and authored by law professors Bernard Black (Northwestern University), David Hyman (University of Illinois) and Charles Silver (University of Texas at Austin), and is currently being peer-reviewed, there is no evidence that physicians fled Texas in high numbers prior to tort reform, or returned to Texas in high numbers after tort reform. In fact, the physician-to-patient ratio is actually worse in Texas today than it was before tort reform. Contrary to what tort reformers might suggest, it appears tort reform does not positively impact physician supply.