Judge rejects lawsuit challenging Texas' "futile care" law. Constitutional challenge  misconstrues both the statute and its purpose. TAPA Amicus Brief in Kelly v. Houston Methodist

Judge lets one-of-a-kind 'futile care' law stand

Suit tested statute allowing doctors to suspend life-sustaining treatment

By Todd Ackerman

September 22, 2017 Updated: September 23, 2017 1:23pm

In a victory for Texas' medical community, a Harris County state district judge Friday rejected a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that allows doctors to withdraw life-sustaining treatment against the wishes of the patient or guardian.

Judge Bill Burke said it would be "a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water" to repeal the controversial 1999 law, enacted in response to doctors' push to eliminate care they believe prolongs suffering in terminal patients. The law, which is unique to Texas, has drawn criticism from some families who say it gives doctors too much power.

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Texas relaxes rules to allow out-of-state doctors to help Harvey victims

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some 213 out-of-state doctors have come to Texas working under a temporary license to provide disaster relief.

News accounts report doctors and nurses have traveled from as far as Oregon, Ohio, and New Jersey to assist in the disaster response.

“Not only have these healthcare workers aided patients, but they’ve provided welcome relief to hard-working doctors and nurses in need of a break,” said Dr. Howard Marcus, chairman of Texas Alliance for Patient Access. “Often the care is rendered in less than ideal conditions due to damage from the storm,” he said.

On August 30, the governor waived all necessary statutes and rules allowing out-of-state doctors to obtain a temporary license.

Healthcare workers employed by a hospital, licensed and in good standing in another state are eligible for temporary licensure. The temporary permit is good for 30 days.

The governor’s suspension will remain in effect until the disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

Click on the link below for further details:

Texas ranks second nationally in retention of in-state trained physicians

A letter to the editor in the August 22 edition of notes that more than half of newly trained doctors are fleeing the State of New York.

The opinion piece reports that New York trains approximately 16,000 medical students each year. Only 45 percent of those newly-trained physicians choose to stay in-state to work.

The latest facts are even more discouraging. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, only 36.4%--slightly more than a third, of those who received their undergraduate medical education in New York established a medical practice there. That ranks New York, a state with no medical liability reforms, 28th nationally in physician retention.

Meanwhile, California and Texas, two states with comprehensive medical lawsuit reforms, rank first and second nationally, retaining 62.7% and 59.7 of their in-state trained physicians.

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Texas continues to attract large numbers of new physicians

The Texas Medical Board licensed a record 4,719 new physicians for the fiscal year that ended last month. This year’s total is nearly 10% greater than the previous historic high of 4,295 set two years ago.

Texas has licensed 48,908 new physicians since the passage of lawsuit reforms 14 years ago. This equates to 1,283 more new licensees per year than occurred during the medical liability crisis years of 2000-2003.

“The trends are irrefutable,” said Austin internist Howard Marcus, chairman of Texas Alliance for Patient Access. “The number of licenses granted continues at record levels,” he said. “Physicians per capita continue to show significant gains which is no easy accomplishment given our fast-growing population.

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Plaintiffs Avoiding Tort Reform

Court decision helps ensure patient access to care across state lines


A recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision has huge professional liability ramifications for physicians treating patients from another state. The March 13, 2017, ruling is of importance to emergency physicians who, under EMTALA, are unable to deny a patient care due to illness, injury, inability to pay, or lack of health history.

The issue at stake in Montano v. Frezza was which state's laws claim legal jurisdiction when a patient who resides in one state (New Mexico, in this case) receives care in another (Texas, in this case).

See published article in ACEPNow

What is a health care liability claim in Texas?

Language in the 2003 reforms created a conundrum for lawyers, judges and health care providers when violations of safety standards were alleged. The Texas Supreme Court largely erased that confusion when it handed down the Ross v. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital decision May 1, 2015. The following is a discussion of the Ross decision with Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson.

 Phil Johnson

Supreme Court Justice

Key Court Decisions since the Passage of Reforms

The law is what the courts say it is. Twelve years after its passage most elements of Texas' landmark medical lawsuit reforms have been upheld.  Some of the medical liability provisions have been adjudicated at an intermediate court only. Click here for a chronology of the more significant decisions rendered by the courts.


Texas knows how to solve health care problems

By Ted Shaw

The Texas Tribune (Online)

April 20, 2015

In 2003, Texas health care was in full-blown crisis.  There were not enough physicians, particularly in high risk, hospital-based specialties, such as obstetrics, neurosurgery and trauma.

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More high-risk doctors are flocking to Texas

Tim Seay, president of Greater Houston Emergency Room Physicians, had grown accustomed to unsuccessfully begging physicians to come to the Houston area. That was before Texas passed health...

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Why health reform might increase malpractive lawsuits

The Washington Post

November 4, 2015

A possible unintended consequence of one of health reform's biggest goals — curbing excess health care spending — could be a surge in malpractice lawsuits...

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(Jeff Roberson/AP)

Study ranks Texas 6th best state for docs, expert points to tort reform

A recent study found Texas is one of the best states for physicians to practice medicine, a high ranking made possible in part due to the passage of tort...

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