Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3437
By: Wohlgemuth
Civil Practices


Over the last several years, some nursing homes in Texas have struggled
financially, sometimes leading to bankruptcy.  Factors contributing to this
problem include the cost of liability insurance and increasing civil
litigation.  The increase in number of lawsuits has reduced nursing home
operating funds in some instances and contributed to the increasing cost of
liability insurance.  According to the interim study by the House Committee
on Human Services, the average claim paid in Texas by nursing homes in a
lawsuit is $230,000 compared to the national average of $47,900.   

One aspect of regulation of nursing homes includes survey reports done by
the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) to assess problems and areas
that need improvement.  While the reports are  useful tools for
accountability in nursing homes, the reports do not always provide an
accurate account of the situation in a nursing home.  Under current law,
the reports can be accessed by anyone and subsequently the reports are
often used by attorneys in lawsuits.  The reports are also considered
admissible evidence in a lawsuit, even if the report is under appeal with
DHS.  House Bill 3437 modifies the admissibility of evidence in a civil
action against a convalescent or nursing home. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 3437 amends the Human Resources and Health and Safety codes to
establish facts and findings that are not admissible as evidence in a civil
action against a convalescent or nursing home and specifies conditions for
allowing admissibility of certain facts and findings.  The bill provides
that these provisions do not apply in an enforcement action in which the
state or an agency or political subdivision of the state is a party. The
bill amends the Human Resources Code to repeal current law relating to
evidence and testimony in a civil action.  


On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2001.