2012 SSAT Plenary Presentation

Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 168-178

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Tort Reform Is Associated with Significant Increases in Texas Physicians Relative to the Texas Population

  • Ronald M. StewartAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioUniversity HospitalJocelyn and Joe Straus Endowed Chair for Trauma Research, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Email author 
  • , Molly WestAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • , Richard SchirmerAffiliated withTexas Hospital Association
  • , Kenneth R. SirinekAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioUniversity Hospital

Abstract

Introduction

Texas implemented comprehensive tort reform in 2003. We hypothesized that tort reform was followed by a significant increase of physicians practicing in Texas.

Methods

To test this hypothesis, we compared the rate of physician growth prior to and following tort reform, and the number of licensed physicians and physicians per 100,000.

Results

Comparing before and after tort reform, the rate of increase in Texas physicians per 100,000 population increased significantly (p < 0.01). From 2002 to 2012, the Texas population increased 21 %. The number of actively practicing Texas physicians increased by 15,611 a 44 % increase (46 % metro areas vs. 9 % non-metro areas), an increase of 30 physicians per 100,000 population (p < 0.01). Non-metropolitan Texas had a net increase of 215 physicians; however, there was no change in the number of physicians per 100,000. Examining the data by trauma service areas (TSAs), 20 of 22 TSAs had an increase in both number of physicians and physicians per capita, five greater than 50 %.

Conclusions

The post-tort reform period in Texas was associated with a significantly increased growth rate of physicians relative to the Texas population. Tort reform, as implemented in Texas, provides a needed framework for improving access to health care.

Keywords

Licensure, medical Liability, legal Health care reform Tort reform Insurance, liability Malpractice Jurisprudence Litigation Risk Health policy Healthcare access