More Doctors = Still Good Quality?
The NY Times highlighted Texas today in an article titled "More Doctors in Texas After Malpractice Caps." Thirty-five states have laws that limit medical damage awards in malpractice suits, but Texas has one of the lowest levels, which was passed in 2003. While it is absolutely fantastic that the number of applications to practice in Texas has increased because we have had such a shortage in doctors, it makes me question WHY so many doctors want to come here. Is it because the cap is so low that the state will be getting doctors who have dealt with malpractice suits in the past? What about consumer protection?
Since 2003, investigations of doctors have gone up 40 percent, patient complaints have gone up 25 percent, and disciplinary actions about 8 percent, said Jill Wiggins, a board spokeswoman. But the figures may reflect greater regulatory diligence rather than more misconduct, Ms. Wiggins said.
Of the 10,878 physicians licensed since 2003, she said, 14 have been the subject of disciplinary actions, on charges as diverse as addiction problems and record-keeping infractions, with none accused of harming patients.
I do have to laugh at the "none accused of harming patients" because those doctors who have addiction problems have an increased chance of harming patients due to their addiction, whether its a lack of judgement in surgery or accidentally writing out a wrong prescription. Although 14 out of 10,878 is a small number, I'd be curious to find out how many of the 10,878 have had malpractice suits in the past. This type of data is readily available online at the Texas Medical Board and is one of the things I check out before finding a doctor for myself.