Doctors rush to the Lone Star State
There is a growing number of licensed doctors in Texas, due to recent reforms in the state’s legislature, some think it is a positive, some a negative. Dallas, Texas (JusticeNewsFlash.com – News Report) – Any state that has thousand of qualified, licensed and practicing doctors is a good thing for its citizens, especially if that state is Texas. After facing a statewide doctor shortage for years, the Texas Medical Board reported that the amount and availability of doctors is steadily on the rise. According to the medical board, the number of licenses issued in the state has gone up almost 44 percent in two years. In 2007, there were around 3,324 doctors who were granted licenses, but come 2008, that number rose to 3,621. This increase is double the rate of the population increase in the state and has risen the state’s ranking in physicians per capita from 48th in 2001 to 42nd in 2005, according to the American Medical Association. Hospitals in Texas today are feeling the urgency to process more than 2,000 applications, but all the while, maintaining the quality of skilled doctors already practicing.
This is positive news, despite the debates circling around what the cause of this drastic multiplication of medical physicians was. The Texas Medical Association attributes the rise to the medical malpractice lawsuit limits passed by the Legislature in 2003. Proposition 12 as it is known. Doctors are being drawn to Texas simply because they feel the state conducts a friendlier malpractice scene – it is fact that the amount of medical malpractice suits has plummeted. The Dallas Morning News stated that in 2003, before the caps took effect, there was 1,108 medical liability suits filed in Dallas County and only 142 cases were filed in 2004. In 2007, there were 184. Many agree that is it because of the recent tort reform which results in significantly lower medical malpractice premiums and expenses, especially the incentive lies in the law which caps the amount plaintiffs can win at $1.6 million dollars. Does this in turn make patients more vulnerable? Does it mean that doctors are just greedy and self-seeking?
Others believe the increase is more apparent simply because the procedure of processing the applications takes a few months, however certain changes have been made in the process such as reducing the amount of paperwork required. Additionally, out-of-state candidates slow the process. In 2007, the medical board dealt with physicians trained in 45 states and 83 foreign countries, wherein around 1,032, received their medical educations at foreign schools. And with more applicants, there is greater selectivity on the part of the medical board. Comments from the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, a medical advocacy group state ‘the gains have been especially striking, with 186 more obstetricians, 156 more orthopedic surgeons and 26 more neurosurgeons. You decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
(Written by: Jana Simard – Medical malpractice News)