The Frezza case: does it threaten New Mexicans’ ability to obtain medical care in Texas?

Due to an apparent shortage of qualified physicians in southern and eastern New Mexico, many residents of our state must seek medical care in Texas (usually in El Paso, Amarillo, and Lubbock).

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals held, in Montaño v. Frezza, that a physician, Dr. Eldo Frezza, who is employed by a state-owned hospital in Lubbock, Texas, could be sued in New Mexico. The Court further held that Dr. Frezza was not entitled to full sovereign immunity protection that Texas law provides to its state employees. The case could have implications for Texas physicians who work for private employers, because Texas apparently law provides greater liability protections to Texas physicians in malpractice lawsuits than are provided by New Mexico law.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has agreed to review the case.

According to this report at Walter Olson’s Overlawyered blog, some Texas physicians are considering not accepting New Mexico residents as patients. Mr. Olson links to this report by Josie Ortegon at El Paso’s KVIA news, to this website with an amicus brief filed by the New Mexico Medical Society and other organizations, and to this article by Samuel Walker of the McGinn, Carpenter, Montoya, and Love law firm, which presents a pro-plaintiff view of the arguments.

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