On May 30, 2023, Texas House Bill 1998 went to Texas Governor Greg Abbott for his signature. This new law reforms the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and takes measures to crack down on doctors whom some allege are potentially dangerous to patients. The law addresses many of the problems that Austin KXAN’s “Still Practicing” investigations uncovered.
Undoubtedly, the outcome of disciplinary proceedings for doctors can be severe. 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.
The KXAN Investigation
The KXAN investigation, published in a series of articles, found that the TMB allowed some doctors to continue practicing medicine, with restrictions, even after finding that they were “a threat to public welfare.” Almost 50 doctors were practicing or legally able to practice in Texas, despite having their medical licenses suspended or revoked in other states. In some cases, patients died.
The investigation also uncovered dozens of out-of-state disciplinary records for doctors that the TMB kept confidential from the public, in direct contravention of state law. As a result, TMB enacted a rule requiring doctors to report any criminal or out-of-state disciplinary proceedings to the TMB within 30 days.
KXAN also discovered four cases of medical malpractice in which a jury found doctors to be at fault for malpractice. Those are the only cases of medical malpractice required to be made public by the TMB, which are a tiny fraction of the overall medical malpractice cases in Texas. Two of the four patients died. Still, none of the four cases were listed on the TMB website as required by law at the time of the investigation.
State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) introduced HB 1998 after telling KXAN that she intended to draft a bill to address the problems its investigations had uncovered. The law contains the following provisions:
- Makes it a Class A misdemeanor to lie on medical license applications, unless the intent is to defraud or harm others, in which case the offense is a state jail felony.
- Requires the TMB to refuse to issue a medical license to an applicant who held a license in another state revoked by the other state’s licensing authority for a reason that would be grounds for the TMB to revoke a medical license in Texas.
- Requires the TMB to revoke a medical license of a doctor who held a license in another state that was revoked by the licensing authority that state for a reason that would be grounds for the TMB to revoke a medical license in Texas. This provision would apply to doctors currently practicing medicine in Texas.
- Requires all medical license applicants and medical license renewal applicants to submit a complete set of fingerprints to the TMB, which will transmit them to the Department of Public Safety in conjunction with a criminal records check; renewal applicants need not submit fingerprints if they previously have submitted fingerprints to the TMB. Refusal to submit fingerprints is grounds for suspension or refusal to renew a medical license. An estimated 73,500 doctors will have to submit fingerprints to the TMB under this provision.
- Imposes an additional surcharge on doctors at the issuance of a first registration permit and any renewal permit to allow the TMB to run a continuous query through the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and update the doctor’s profile with any new information within ten working days. The NPDB contains information about arrests, malpractice lawsuits, disciplinary actions, etc., concerning doctors and other medical professionals.
- Requires the TMB to appoint an expert physician panel to assist with complaints and investigations concerning medical competency.
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.