When it comes to health care, eastern New Mexico is really part of Texas. That’s the message physicians and advocacy groups in both states are sending to the New Mexico Supreme Court. Pending there is a malpractice lawsuit — Montaño v. Frezza — in which a lower court has ruled that New Mexico law governs, and our Texas’ medical liability reforms don’t. The case involves a patient from New Mexico who was treated in Texas. In court filings and news stories, TMA, the Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA), the New Mexico Medical Society, and others argue that upholding the lower court ruling “will likely diminish access to care for thousands of Eastern New Mexicans, at a time when the area is already medically underserved.” For example:
- More than 27 percent of New Mexico residents live in the 13 counties that border Texas. However, those counties account for only 14 percent of the state’s specialty physicians.
- Two of the 13 counties have among the greatest shortage of primary care physicians in New Mexico. Nine of the 13 counties need general surgeons, and four have a shortage of obstetrician-gynecologists.
- Sambaiah Kankanala, MD, an internist in Hobbs, N.M., told the TAPA annual meeting that his town has just four primary care physicians for a population of more than 30,000.
- New Mexico’s only Level 1 trauma center is in Albuquerque. More than one-third of New Mexico’s critically injured trauma patients are treated in Texas.