The Texas Medical Board regulates telemedicine, including determining who can provide it, and to whom it can be provided, where it can be provided, and for what medical conditions. Offering telemedicine services to patients creates more opportunities for people to get the care they need; however, it creates new risks for health care providers regarding licensing issues.
5 FAQ on Telemedicine in Texas
Who can treat patients in Texas through telemedicine?
A physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse who is supervised by and has delegated authority from a physician, may treat patients using telemedicine. The medical care provided via telemedicine is held to the same standards of acceptable medical practices as those made in the traditional in-person clinical settings.
When can telemedicine be provided?
Two conditions must be met before telemedicine medical services can be provided. First, a valid physician-patient relationship must be established. Second, the practitioner must be able to meet the standard of care that would be provided in an in-person setting.
How is a physician-patient relationship established?
A telemedicine provider must establish a physician-patient relationship, which at a minimum includes:
- Establishing that the person requesting the treatment is in fact who the person claims to be;
- Establishing a diagnosis using acceptable medical practices, including documenting and performing patient history, mental status examination, appropriate diagnostic and laboratory testing, and for medical care other than mental health services, a physical examination;
- Discussing with the patient the diagnosis and the evidence for it, the risks and benefits of various treatment options; and
- Ensuring the availability of the distant site provider or coverage of the patient for appropriate follow-up care.
When is telemedicine prohibited?
Medical services that require an in-person evaluation to meet the standard of care cannot be provided via telemedicine.
Further, there are specific prohibitions on when telemedicine may be provided. Telemedicine is not allowed for the treatment of chronic pain with scheduled drugs. Also, the requisite practitioner-patient relationship of telemedicine is not present if a practitioner prescribes a drug or device that terminates a pregnancy.
Can mental health services be provided via telemedicine?
Yes, mental health services may be provided to a patient at a different location from the location of the provider. The provider must establish the practitioner-patient relationship, which for mental health services can be established using telecommunications.
Facing Disciplinary Action from the Texas Medical Board
The regulations on practicing telemedicine in Texas are complex. If you are providing these services, it is critical that you understand and follow the regulations. This is an area of medicine ripe with potential pitfalls for professionals licensed by the Texas Medical Board.
If you have been notified of a complaint filed against you or are facing disciplinary action by the Texas Medical Board based on medical care you provided via telemedicine, it is critical that you seek the advice of an experienced Medical license defense attorney immediately.
Our law firm helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board.
If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (800) 210-0126 and schedule a case evaluation.
Get a copy of Tony R. Bertolino's #1 Bestselling book, When Your License is Under Attack: A Survival Guide for Texas Professionals in hardcover or for Kindle here.