Record Number of New Doctors Licensed in Texas in 2012
Chances are the doctor is in. A new report obtained by 1200 WOAI news shows a rush of new doctors into Texas since laws were approved in 2003 limiting junk and harassment lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
The Texas Medical Board says 3630 new physicians were licensed to practice in Texas in the year that ended August 31st…that is the most ever for one year.
Jon Opelt, who heads the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, says about two thirds of those new doctors came here from other states or other countries.
“We are historically an importer of physicians,” he said. “That means we don’t train enough physicians in this state. So it is very important that we are able to attract physicians to come here.”
He says the 2003 tort reform law which was approved by the voters nine years ago this week, was the game changer. The law vastly restricted the ability of greedy and unscrupulous lawyers to file junk lawsuits against physicians, placing hard caps on so called ‘pain and suffering’ damages.
Opelt says Texas has twice as many emergency room physicians today as it had before the new tort reform law was approved, and 36 Texas counties received their first ER doc ever.
He says the figures may have been skewed by a new law that was passed by the Legislature in 2011 and which took effect this month, requiring physicians who immigrate to Texas from other countries to agree to practice for at least three years in ‘an underserved community,’ generally an inner city or a rural area, as a condition of being licensed to practice medicine in the state.
Opelt says the number of new physicians being licensed in Texas is up an average of 33% a year since the tort reform measures were adopted