The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has implemented fairness provisions of a new state law – backed by TMA – that allows physicians named in complaints to resolve their cases with a "remedial plan" rather than a formal disciplinary action.
The board can now waive fines for minor administrative violations as long as the physician agrees to complete a program of related continuing medical education (CME). However, the physician would not have to admit to wrongdoing or have his or her name published in TMB news releases or newsletters.
The new policy is part of House Bill 680 by state Rep. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), that the legislature passed last year. TMA not only endorsed the bill but also defeated several proposed amendments that would have weakened the board and threatened to drive more complaints to civil courts – negating the positive effects of the 2003 liability reforms TMA pushed through the legislature.
In its January newsletter, TMB gives the example of a doctor not signing a death certificate in a timely manner. According to the article, the physician may agree to pay a small fine and complete four hours of CME but would not admit to or deny the findings and would "avoid the uncertainty of litigation."
Also, the remedial plan would not be considered a disciplinary action, so the physician's name would not be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Remedial plans would be developed for "administrative violations," according to the article, and they give the medical board a third option – and a degree of flexibility – in responding to a minor incident. Previously it could only dismiss the complaint or seek public disciplinary action.
Action, Feb. 1, 2012