Medical malpractice reform enacted five years ago succeeded in cutting the number of lawsuits against doctors and increasing the number of physicians working in Texas.
But state medical board investigators say it also left them with an unbearable workload.
While the Texas Medical Board’s staffing increased 28 percent from 112 employees in fiscal 2002 to 143 in fiscal 2008, physician and patient settlements through the board have increased 202 percent, according to the board’s statistics.
In next year’s legislative session, the TMB will be asking for 11 additional full-time workers to help with investigating and resolving complaints against doctors.
Extremely important cases, in which a patient or doctor is in immediate danger, are placed on a Priority One track and are handled more quickly than in past years.
In 2003, Texas voters passed Proposition 12, which limited the amount patients could win in a medical malpractice lawsuit to $250,000. The law helped drive down malpractice insurance for doctors and made Texas a more enticing place to practice medicine.
Though the influx of doctors has helped the state’s physician shortage, it has also kept medical board regulators busier.
The percentage of complaints involving quality-of-care issues is rising, too, and these take longer to investigate. This year, 73 percent of complaints involved quality-of-care issues, up from 64 percent in fiscal year 2002, according to state medical records.
Since its last meeting in October, the medical board has disciplined 59 doctors, including 13 for violations based on quality of care, two for unprofessional conduct, three for violating probation orders, four based on impairment from alcohol or drugs, two for nontherapeutic prescribing and one based on a criminal conviction.
Earlier this month, James Young-Jin Shin, a Fort Worth nephrologist, voluntarily surrendered his medical license after pleading guilty in July to possession of child pornography and being sentenced to 42 months in prison.
But the percentage of total complaints opened for investigation has increased from 33 percent in fiscal year 2002 to nearly 42 percent in fiscal year 2008. These are the ones that the agency determines, after a 30-day initial review, need additional investigation.
If you have been subjected to a TMB Inquiry Letter or TMB Disciplinary Process, then please contact the Dallas Texas Medical License Defense Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.
Contact the Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm Today.
Doctor-Attorney Shezad Malik has the legal and medical experience and is dedicated to representing physicians, surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals who are in danger of losing their hospital staff privileges, medical licenses, and professional reputations.
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