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      Create jobs, not lawsuits

      According to the Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (RGV CALA), the was the epicenter of lawsuit abuse more than eight years ago.

      The group sets aside a week to annually educate the public on how lawsuit abuse affects them.

      RGV CALA and local business owners met in Harlingen on Thursday to discuss the medical crisis Texas is facing. The group said that prior to 2003, doctors were being sued at record pace and for record sums as there was no cap on damage awards.

      This caused malpractice rates to rise significantly.

      Doctors left Texas in droves.

      "There was a number of doctors that left, said John Opelt with the Texas Alliance for Patient Access. John Martin, an intern with the chief of staff at Valley Baptist Medical Center, threw up his hands and he left the valley; he said enough is enough.

      Jose Cohen, an obstetrician here in Harlingen, stopped delivering babies; he said it was just too costly and he chose not to do it. said Opelt.

      Opelt said lawsuit abuse hurts both doctors and the patients.

      It affects the price of products and services that you pay for but it also affects the availability of certain services.

      In response to this crisis, Proposition 12 was put in place. The amendment limits the amount of money patients or their survivors could recover in medical malpractice lawsuits.

      "Since the passage of reforms in 2003, medical lawsuit filings have been cut in half, so the number of suits in general are way down, said Opelt. People are still finding their way to court but many of the frivolous filings have gone away.

      Opelt said since the reforms, Texas is also seeing doctors return to previously underserved areas.

      And more patients across the state are getting the care they need, when they need it.