CALA Slingshots: Medical Liability
Right Reasons for Wrong Conclusion

The Jan. 12 editorial "Bad Medicine / Doctors' malpractice lies at heart of insurance crisis" had all the right reasons for exactly the wrong conclusion. Protecting the public from poorly performing, incompetent physicians can only be done by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners.

Court judgments on medical liability suits do not deter bad doctors. They hire their own high-priced legal experts to defend them.

The only way to rid our profession of these is to remove their licenses to practice medicine and that requires a stronger, better funded licensing board.

But the matter of skyrocketing medical liability insurance costs is one that affects all physicians and all patients.

Good doctors, doctors who have been sued frivolously or not at all, are paying more than $100,000 a year for insurance coverage. The vast majority of claims for medical malpractice, more than 85 percent, are dropped or dismissed without judgment after running up considerable legal expenses for their defense. Because of this, physicians are avoiding high-risk services and are leaving our state because of a lawsuit feeding frenzy.

The Texas Legislature will be asked to place reasonable limits only on awards for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. No limits are sought on economic damages such as future medical costs, loss of future earnings, etc.

Only by bringing some rational limits can we hope to avert an even greater crisis in the loss of physicians and medical services.

Similar laws in place in California have worked for more than 30 years. Premiums for most physicians are half what they are in Texas, and patients still have access to their doctors and the courthouse.

Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox,
president, Harris County Medical Society, Houston

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267