Most malpractice cases in Texas end in out-of-court settlements. A recent analysis found that 97% of Texas malpractice cases never go to court.
This outcome allows some victims to receive compensation faster but also makes it easier for medical providers to conceal a history of malpractice.
How settlements can allow providers to conceal their malpractice history
Texas law only requires malpractice cases to be public information when a jury determines a medical provider is guilty of malpractice. Because cases that go to court are so rare, most malpractice is not made public and even some cases that go to court do not show up on medical providers’ public records.
Potential legislative response
The Texas Medical Board has lobbied the state legislature for additional funding to improve reporting so that patients have access to accurate information about providers with a history of medical malpractice. The agency also wants additional money to conduct continuous background checks on medical providers, rather than relying on self-reporting. If legislators approve the request, the TMB could begin receiving additional funding for background checks on September 1, 2023.
How patients can avoid medical mistakes
The lack of transparency in the system makes it difficult for patients to avoid doctors with a history of malpractice claims. However, patients can take steps to reduce the chance of errors. Patients should be actively involved in their care and ask a lot of questions. Patients should also ensure everyone on their medical team is on the same page and up to date on the patient’s medical history.
Patients should be able to rely on medical providers to provide proper care. However, because the system can protect bad doctors, patients must advocate for themselves.