After a recent vote by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Houston area will be getting a new medical school. Sam Houston State University gained approval to create a new osteopathic medical school in Conroe, which is expected to open in 2020. The school will now begin the accreditation process.
A proposal for yet another medical school, submitted by the University of Houston, is still pending before the Board. Under the University of Houston proposal, medical students and residents (medical doctors who have not completed their post-graduate training) would rotate through the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Gulf Coast Division facilities. HCA is a mega-chain of for-profit hospitals headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
HCA hospitals in the Gulf Coast Division include Bayshore Medical Center, Bayview Behavioral Hospital, clear Lake Regional Medical Center, Conroe Regional Medical Center, Corpus Christi Medical Center, Corpus Christi Medical Center—Bay Area, Corpus Christi Medical Center—Doctors Regional, Corpus Christi Medical Center—The Heart Hospital, Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center, Houston Northwest Medical Center, Kingwood Medical Center, Mainland Medical Center, Park Plaza Hospital, Pearland Medical Center, Plaza Specialty Hospital, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Texas orthopedic Hospital, The Heart & Vascular Hospital, and The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, Tomball Regional Medical Center, Valley Regional Medical Center, and West Houston Medical Center.
As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney a few things caught my attention about this new information.
First, Texas still ranks 47th out of 50 states in the ratio of primary-care physicians per person, based on data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Plus, the doctor shortage is expected to get worse. This reveals the fallacy of the public policy arguments that were made in favor of tort reform when it was enacted back in 2003. Politicians, elected officials, and lobbyists who wanted to restrict the right of patients to seek justice in court from medical malpractice said that an acting tort reform would keep physicians in the State of Texas.
That turned out to be false. Instead, we are left with the state where doctors and hospitals are often not held accountable because of restrictive rules on medical malpractice cases and, of course, caps on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include some of the things that hit most victims of medical malpractice, and their families, hardest—things like a loss of relationship, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the like.
Second, while it is obvious that Texans need more physicians, I believe that the public should remain aware of the added risk of having doctors-in-training working at hospitals. Don’t get me wrong, new doctors are like everyone else and need time to be shown the ropes and learn their profession. The problem is that, in many so-called academic or teaching hospitals, new doctors are not adequately supervised. That means that diagnoses and treatment decisions are being made by people with little experience and no-how.
You can improve your safety as a patient by educating yourself as to whether your hospital is an academic or teaching hospital, and inquiring whether residents and fellows will be involved in your care. If you feel uncomfortable about the medical decision-making in your care, you can always request to see a fully-trained supervising doctor, called an attending physician.
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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by poor resident, fellow, physician, or hospital care, the attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.