Telemedicine in Texas allows doctors to provide healthcare services to patients who are at a different physical location. The benefits are numerous, such as greater access to needed health care and a reduction in healthcare costs. However, there are risks associated with the practice of telemedicine. The Texas legislature and the Texas Medical Board have created rules and regulations aimed at protecting patients and the effectiveness of medical care.
If you are a TMB licensed physician practicing telemedicine, it is critical that you understand and adhere to the laws regarding telemedicine in Texas.
Valid Prescriptions Under Texas' Telemedicine Law
Doctors may issue prescriptions when practicing telemedicine law. Under Texas law, "[t]he validity of a prescription issued as a result of a telemedicine medical service is determined by the same standards that would apply to the issuance of the prescription in an in-person setting." Tex. Admin. Code §174.5(a).
A valid telemedicine prescription must be:
- issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner as part of a patient-practitioner relationship; and
- meet all other applicable laws before prescribing, dispensing, delivering or administering a dangerous drug or controlled substance.
Tex. Admin. Code §174.5(c). To meet the requirements of the first prong listed above, a practitioner must form a valid patient-practitioner relationship for telemedicine medical services. Establishing a legitimate patient-practitioner relationship includes compliance with the applicable stand are care and either:
- Has a preexisting doctor-patient relationship;
- Communicates with the patient pursuant to a call coverage agreement with the patient's established practitioner; or
- Provides telemedicine medical services via real-time video, real-time audio along with having access to clinically relevant information, or by any other audiovisual telecommunication that allows the practitioner to meet the standard of care for an in-person setting, and the practitioner provides the patient with guidance on appropriate follow-up care, and when applicable, provides the patient's primary care physician with the medical record and treatment provided.
Tex. Occ. Code §111.005. A telemedicine prescription is valid so long as a legitimate patient-practitioner relationship exists, the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose, and the practitioner complies with all other applicable laws.
Treatment of chronic pain with scheduled drugs through the use of telemedicine medical services is prohibited. Tex. Admin. Code §174.5(e)(2)(A).
The ability to treat patients remotely via telemedicine has many benefits and increases the availability of healthcare. As the telehealth field grows, it is important for providers to stay vigilant in complying with the rules and regulations specific to delivering telemedicine. This is an area of medicine that may give rise to allegations of physician malfeasance and complaints filed with TMB.
Facing Disciplinary Action from 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 the 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.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. We know how to build a strong case to protect your license – and your livelihood. Our results speak for themselves. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.