Texas has the lowest medical malpractice award payout amount per capita out of all US states, a new report by WalletHub reveals. The analysis looked at a number of metrics, including medical malpractice payouts, to determine the best and worst states to practice medicine in 2021. Following Texas comes Arkansas, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Mississippi with the next lowest award payout amounts. On the other hand, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Alaska have the highest medical malpractice payouts per capita.
Texas’ tort reform laws
Texas’ tort reform laws make it challenging for patients to sue negligent doctors. As such, there’s a lack of accountability, which has turned Texas into “a dumping ground for doctors with deeply distressing records,” comments TexasWatch. In addition to tight deadlines for filing medical malpractice lawsuits, Texas law also demands practicing doctors provide expensive professional reports on the alleged malpractice. And, emergency room patients, rather than being able to file lawsuits based on negligence, are required to instead prove malicious intent by their doctors. Non-economic damages are also limited in most cases to $250,000 per doctor, which, in many instances, makes them not financially viable to pursue.
Next steps after receiving negligent care
No matter which state they’re in, patients who suspect they’ve received negligent care should get in touch with a board-certified lawyer to assess whether they have a case. Medical attorneys will work to obtain and review relevant medical documents and gather evidence that can prove malpractice, so damages can be recovered. However, statute of limitation laws (which vary from state to state) prevent patients from seeking compensation after a set deadline has passed, which means it’s important patients consult a lawyer as soon as possible.
Preventing malpractice: patient advice
By taking charge of their own health care, patients can better protect themselves against negligence. For example, patients should keep a detailed record of their symptoms and spend time researching their diagnosis and medication, so they’re in a better position to advocate for themselves and spot mistakes. Patients also shouldn’t be afraid to ask their healthcare provider questions and ensure they receive full, comprehensive answers. A second opinion should always be sought; in fact good doctors will encourage it.
Standards of healthcare are generally good, yet incidents of medical malpractice are nevertheless frequent. Medical malpractice law, although far from perfect in states like Texas, can help patients recover compensation for harm caused by negligent care.