A federal judge Tuesday upheld Texas’ 2003 cap on noneconomic damages in health care liability cases. Texas physicians say by upholding this law, Texas will continue to attract more physicians to communities and offer more services to some of Texas’ sickest patients.
“The 2003 medical liability reforms have been good medicine for the people of Texas," says Texas Medical Association President C. Bruce Malone, MD. "Thanks to the reforms, we have more physicians available to care for the sickest and most badly injured Texans. The reforms have kept their promise, and this ruling means Texas won't break that promise."
The plaintiffs claimed the cap violated the U.S. Constitution, but U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap dismissed or denied all claims. The Texas Alliance for Patient Access says that since the 2003 law, “new doctors have flocked to the state in record numbers, and counties that lacked an orthopedic surgeon, an emergency medicine physician or a cardiologist now have one.”
Noneconomic damages are damages compensating for pain and suffering not related to actual economic cost. They do not include past, present, or future medical bills, or lost income. The 2003 law caps judgments on noneconomic damages in health care liability at $250,000 to $750,000, depending upon the situation.