HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE)- A lot of people in eastern New Mexico go to Texas to see a doctor or to get surgery. New Mexicans are even sent there in trauma cases, but people are worried a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling could have Texas turning New Mexicans away over lawsuit fears.
A New Mexico woman filed a malpractice lawsuit against a Lubbock doctor following weight loss surgery but filed it here in New Mexico where the laws are friendlier for patients who sue.
Texas doctors feel the case should go through the Texas court systems since that is where the woman was treated. The New Mexico Medical Society, an organization for doctors, agrees.
“Your liability does not carry over state lines, so it exposes the physician to great risk,” said Randy Marshall, Executive Director of NMMS.
If the court decides to let this case play out here in New Mexico, doctors are warning that this could make them more reluctant to accept out of state patients.
New Mexicans have been calling local lawmakers, like Hobbs State Representative Larry Scott with concerns.
“Access to those out of state physician especially along the east side of the state is crucial for us,” said Scott.
One lawmaker says she even had a woman say her doctor said he was considering dropping New Mexico patients altogether.
This could mean life or death to those who can’t make a more than 200 mile trip to Albuquerque to see specialists.
Scott says that if the doctors do begin to turn away New Mexico patients, something will have to be done on his end.
“Well the larger issue is tort reform, statutes enacted by the legislature to change the liability to make them more friendly to the physician,” said Scott.
No word when the State Supreme Court could hear the case. Lawmakers in southeast New Mexico don’t believe the state legislature will move to weaken patients’ ability to sue out of state doctors because so many powerful legislators are lawyers themselves.