Texas Malpractice Law Should Be A Cautionary Tale
I have written many times about the unfair legal immunities extended to doctors and other health care providers in Michigan. I have tried to explain how these laws operate to deny victims of careless, avoidable errors justice in court. And now, I fear, the lawmakers in our state will make it even more difficult for injured people to hold negligent doctors accountable for their mistakes.
In Texas, medical malpractice laws have had the unintended (but undeniably foreseeable) consequence of lowering the standard of emergency room care. Emergency room doctors in that state are legally responsible only for errors that are “willful and wanton” in nature. This standard is so high as to border on intentional misconduct. As a result, many patients needlessly suffer preventable injuries, but they are unable to find a remedy in the legal system.
Insurance companies will say that these protections lower the cost of malpractice insurance and attract doctors to the community. However, consider this: A person injured by a doctor’s negligence incurs additional medical costs. These costs don’t simply disappear when the legislature passes a “tort reform” bill. Instead, these costs are paid for through higher health insurance premiums or government-sponsored medical benefits funded by higher taxes. Put another way, the cost of people injured by medical malpractice is being paid by you and me, rather than the doctor who caused (and could have prevented) the injury.
These laws endanger patients and do little more than protect insurance companies’ profits. I would hope that Michigan shows more care toward the victims of medical negligence than Texas does.