Changes in Texas Medical Board Laws What You Need to Know

The Texas legislature recently performed a major overhaul of the Texas Medical Board (TMB), sparked partly by a journalist’s yearlong investigation into various doctors with serious disciplinary histories and allegations of the TMB’s failure to protect patients effectively. As a result, doctors must be aware of the new laws that will directly affect the TMB and their licenses should they face allegations of misconduct.

An experienced medical license defense lawyer can represent your interests in any disciplinary proceedings regarding alleged violations of the Medical Practice Act and other applicable rules and laws. We can review your case, explain your potential options, and work to achieve a reasonable solution with the TMB to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. If you face disciplinary proceedings before the TMB, you need an experienced medical license defense lawyer to protect your license. Strong legal representation can help you avoid harsh sanctions that adversely affect your reputation and career.

H.B. No. 1998 Becomes Law

On June 13, 2023, Gov. Greg Abbott signed H.B. No. 1998 into law. The bill is a major patient safety law that reforms the disciplinary authority of the TMB and intends to protect patients from potentially unsafe doctors. The law also aims to increase transparency about physician backgrounds, as monitored by the TMB, and enact stricter screening standards for doctors practicing medicine in Texas. The new law takes effect on September 1, 2023.

Increases Hospital Reporting Requirements

The bill requires medical peer review committees or healthcare entities to report any disciplinary actions against physicians that adversely affect their clinical privileges at that facility for more than 14 days, including the results and circumstances surrounding the disciplinary action. Previously, these reports only were required if the disciplinary action affected clinical privileges for more than 30 days. 

Strengthens the Requirements for Practicing Medicine in Texas

Under the new law, doctors may not practice medicine in Texas if another state has revoked, restricted, or suspended their medical licenses for cause. They also may not practice in Texas if they have been convicted or had a deferred disposition for a misdemeanor or felony crime involving moral turpitude. 

Before the new law, physicians could be admitted to practice medicine in Texas, even if they had faced suspension or revocation of their medical licenses in other states. Last year, an investigation by Austin’s KXAN found 49 physicians practicing medicine in Texas, even after facing disciplinary action against their medical licenses in other states. Furthermore, no information about their out-of-state disciplinary actions was listed on their physician profiles on TMB’s website, even though it was required by state law. Likewise, criminal convictions or deferred dispositions for crimes of moral turpitude in other states did not prevent doctors from obtaining medical licenses in Texas until the passage of this law. 

Increases TMB Obligations to Screen and Monitor for Potentially Dangerous or Ineligible Physicians or Medical License Applicants 

Physicians and applicants for Texas medical licenses must be fingerprinted as part of their criminal background checks with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Existing physicians who have never been fingerprinted must now submit to fingerprinting under the new law. Under Texas law, it will now be a Class A misdemeanor to lie on a medical license application and a state jail felony if one lies on a medical license application intending to defraud or harm another person. 

The TMB must also monitor the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPBD) for changes at least every 30 days to regularly update each licensed physician’s profile on the TMB website. The NPBD is a confidential database of physician complaints that Congress established; the contents of the database are not open to the public. 

More specifically, each physician profile must include the following:

  • Any new reports or corrections to disciplinary actions against the physician; and
  • Removal of any reports of disciplinary action against the physician that has been dismissed or otherwise voided.

Additionally, TMB must update a physician’s public profile on its website within ten business days of being notified of any disciplinary action against a licensed physician. 

Count on Bertolino LLP, to Defend Your Medical License Before the TMB

If you have received a complaint from the TMB, you need a seasoned medical license defense attorney on your side. As the Texas legislature is increasingly poised to more severely punish doctors accused of misconduct, the stakes during disciplinary proceedings before the TMB may be even higher than before. We will tirelessly defend you against these attacks on the credentials you have worked so hard to earn. Contact Bertolino LLP today at (512) 980-3751 or visit us online.

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