Monday, August 21, 2006
A mostly anecdotal but interesting article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, looking back at the effects of Texas's 2003 Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act. Some pull quotes:
"Clearly the legislation has had the result intended. The number of filings in medical malpractice is down significantly," said [Cantey & Hanger managing partner] Rogers, who's also seen the effect from his position as a board member of Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth. "I would say the number of lawyers [at Cantey & Hanger] doing medical malpractice defense has been reduced by two-thirds."
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The number of medical malpractice suits filed in Tarrant County and other Texas metropolitan areas has plunged since Sept. 1, 2003, when the law went into effect. The measure also bolstered defenses in civil suits involving a personal injury, such cases of product liability or the release of hazardous materials, and those cases also are down, although not as sharply.
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For 27 years, Fort Worth plaintiffs' lawyer Steven Laird filed malpractice suits full time. But "no one does principally medical malpractice work anymore," he said. "Now my practice consists of other types of serious injury and wrongful death."
The evidence behind those comments is on file at the Tarrant County Courthouse.
In 2001, there were 158 medical malpractice lawsuits filed locally. The next year there were 166. But in early 2003, plaintiff attorneys blitzed the courthouse to file 337 malpractice suits, all but 20 of those before the new law took effect.
The number of new suits in 2004 fell to 55, and last year 60 were filed, about a 60 percent decline from 2001-02, according to the Tarrant County district clerk's office. In the first six months of 2006, 38 malpractice suits were filed.