In 2003, Texas tort reform advocates and activists mutilated Texas’ medical malpractice laws to the point that innocent victims of emergency room negligence cannot hold the hospital, doctors or staff responsible. They were also successful in getting an amendment to the Texas Constitution passed that limits non-economic damages assessed against a provider of medical or health care to $250,000.00 – no matter how severe the medical negligence or resulting injuries – and, after January 1, 2005, the ability to pass laws that will limit awards in all other types of cases.
They did this by scaring Texans with exaggerated claims of doctors leaving the state because of lawsuit abuse and high medical malpractice insurance rates. This politics of fear moved Texans to side with the tort reformers. The tort reformers sole purpose in medical malpractice reform was to hit trial lawyers in the pocket book. They used the medical profession as their poster child, and it worked.
Nine years later there is significant decrease in the number of medical malpractice cases being filed because of these damages caps, but with little or no significant decrease in medical malpractice insurance rates. The sole winner is the insurance industry. The hands-down losers are the innocent victims of medical malpractice.
The tort reformer supported, anti-consumer Texas Supreme Court has taken this entire travesty one step further, and now, even the medical profession is victimized. The Texas Supreme Court recently expanded the reach of and scope of the Texas Medical liability Act to include injuries in the medical setting not related in any way to the medical care being provided. It has now held that when an injured employee of a medical provider files suit against his or her employer, that employee must file an expert report supporting their case with 120 days of filing the lawsuit. The Supreme Court included these kinds of claims in the Act’s definition of health care as an act or treatment performed or furnished, or that should have been performed or furnished, by any health care provider for, to, or on behalf of a patient during the patient’s medical care, treatment or confinement TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 74.001(a)(10). This expert report requirement increases the cost and difficulty of what should be no more than case where you hold the occupier or owner of the premises responsible for the dangerous condition that caused the injuries. In the Act, “expert report” means a written report by an expert that provides a fair summary of the expert’s opinions as of the date of the report regarding applicable standards of care, the manner in which the care rendered by the physician or health care provider failed to meet the standards, and the causal relationship between that failure and the injury, harm, or damages claimed. This expert report provision is onerous and is used in medical malpractice cases to deny compensation to innocent victims of medical negligence.
Further, that act or treatment is defined in the Act under the definition of a health care liability claim to mean a cause of action against a health care provider or physician for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care, which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant, whether the claimant’s claim or cause of action sounds in tort or contract. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE § 74.001(a)(13).
The Texas Supreme Court’s first perverted interpretation and application of the Act came when it ruled that a injuries sustained by a patient as a result of a broken hospital bed came within the meaning of the Act. That interpretation benefited the medical providers because it kept them from getting sued for patient and visitor injuries occurring on their premises, and they did not mind that at all. Its second perverted interpretation and application of the Act is directed at employees and others injured in the health care setting but who are not receiving any medical care.
The loyal poster child that got tort reformers what they wanted are their newest innocent victims, and they have been put on a gurney and rolled out of the facility with the innocent victims of medical malpractice. Those in the medical provider field who believed there were too many frivolous malpractice lawsuits ironically now have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to be compensated for the injuries they received providing medical care.
Why did the Supreme Court do this? Because the tort reformers and the Texas Supreme Court believe all personal injury lawsuits are frivolous and litigants are not entitled to just compensation. The Texas Supreme Court has closed Texas’ courthouse doors to all innocent victims in the medical care setting.