Three Bills Reduce Bureaucratic Hassles Without Endangering Tort Reforms
For immediate release
May 27, 2011
Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
The president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) today urged Gov. Rick Perry to sign three significant bills that reform how the Texas Medical Board (TMB) handles complaints against physicians.
“These three bills provide much-needed due process protections for physicians without endangering the 2003 liability reforms that have meant so much to Texas,” C. Bruce Malone, MD, president of TMA, the state’s largest physician organization, said in his letter to the governor. “They will allow the board to focus on protecting the public by upholding the highest standards of medical care.”
The bills are House Bill 680 by Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), and Sens. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place); Senate Bill 191 by Senator Nelson and Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene); and SB 227 by Senator Nelson and Representative King.
“We truly appreciate the dedication, hard work, and legislative savvy demonstrated by Senators Nelson and Huffman and Representatives King and Schwertner,” Dr. Malone said in an email alert to TMA members. “They persevered despite loud protests that covered up self-serving legislation not in the best interest of the vast majority of Texas doctors.”
Important changes included in the three bills do the following:
• Prohibit the filing of all anonymous complaints;
• Require the board to notify the physician when insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, or third-party administrators file a complaint;
• Increase the time for a physician to respond to a complaint notice from 30 days to 45 days;
• Allow TMB to require a remedial action plan rather than impose a fine for a minor administrative violation;
• Allow physicians to tape the proceedings of a TMB informal settlement conference;
• Institute a seven-year statute of limitations on bringing a disciplinary action, mirroring the TMB rule on how long doctors need to keep a patient’s medical record; and
• Bind TMB to the ruling of an administrative law judge in a proceeding supervised by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
“A strong and fair TMB is a lynchpin of the success of the liability reforms,” Dr. Malone wrote in his letter to Governor Perry. “If doctors are unable to police themselves through a strong and fair medical board, then today’s complaint is tomorrow’s lawsuit. We cannot allow that to happen.”
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 45,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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