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Tort “Reform,” Texas Style

Posted by Andrew J. Barovick | May 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

The State of Texas loves to crow about it's allegedly successful tort “reform” program.  Of course, whether or not it has been successful depends on which article you read, and whether you're an insurance executive or a wronged patient.  And Texas does not like to acknowledge that one clear result of its efforts is that it has become one of  the most expensive states in which to receive healthcare.

But here is something else that Texas would probably not want medical consumers to know.  If you are a neurosurgeon from, say, Minnesota, who has inflicted enough harm on your patients that your ability to practice has been severey curtailed, all you need do to kick start that  income stream is–you guessed it– move to Texas .  Just pay your licensing fee, and start practicing, just as Dr. Stefan Konasiewicz did.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota is as much to blame as Texas in this unfortunate scenario, as sanctions accrued in that state need not dog a doctor when he moves to another.

So, yes, this is yet another example of the abject failure of the tort “reform” movement to address a real cause of medical malpractice: unskilled physicians who are rarely, if ever, disciplined in a manner that prevents harm to the medical consumer. Tort “reform” is not going to solve this problem.

But it would be nice if hospitals and medical societies stopped looking the other way when doctors under their supervision injure and/or kill patients.  It would be nice if “doctor discipline” was more than just a sometime-uttered phrase.  And actually imposing recommended discipline would lend the medical societies in every state more credibility when they talk about what's good for healthcare.

Will this happen? Probably not. But a medical consumer can dream, can't he?

About the Author

Andrew J. Barovick

Mr. Barovick is a graduate of Columbia College and Cardozo School of Law. He began his legal career at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, where he tried over 20 felonies to verdict, and argued an equal number of appeals before the Appellate Division, Second Department, the New York Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


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$7.9 million dollars for infant client who suffered severe brain injuries due to post- delivery medical malpractice.

$500,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement on behalf of patient brought to hospital emergency room with serious injuries who suffered complications while unmonitored and died.

$425,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement during trial on behalf of senior hospital patient whose surgeon failed to timely address her worsening symptoms, resulting in her death.

$250,000 to young man whose physician failed to diagnose an impending torsion testicle, causing the loss of the affected testicle.

$200,000 to young mother whose OB/GYN failed to timely diagnose and treat her ectopic pregnancy, resulting in excruciating, long-term pain and the need for surgery to address the ectopic pregnancy once it was diagnosed.