TMA White Paper Explains Minimum Safe-Practice Standards Rule
By David Doolittle

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The Texas Medical Board’s (TMB) new rule requiring practices follow minimum safe-practice standards has caused a lot of questions for physicians throughout the state.

To help ease any pain, the Texas Medical Association has published a white paper on the rule, which went into effect May 1.

According to the rule, all physicians who care for patients in person must implement these minimum standards:

  • A mask must be worn by both the patient and physician or the physician's delegate when in proximity of the patient (meaning less than a 6-foot distance between the patient and the physician or the physician's delegate);
  • Follow policies the physician, medical and health care practice, or facility has in place regarding COVID-19 screening and testing and/or screening patients;
  • Before any encounter, patients must be screened for potential symptoms of COVID-19 or verified previously screened within the last 20 days; and
  • Prior to care involving a medical procedure or surgery on the mucous membranes, including the respiratory tract, with a high risk of aerosol transmission, the minimum safety equipment used by a physician or physician's delegate should include N95 masks, or an equivalent protection from aerosolized particles, and face shields.

TMB also has posted online the required notice you must post “in each public area and treatment room or area of the office, practice, or facility.” The board also has published a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document with more details on the rule.

The Texas Medical Association has asked TMB to clarify the rule and explain what physicians who cannot fully comply with the minimum standards should do. TMA will provide updates as the medical board makes new information available.

The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a source of frustration for Texas physicians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and TMA already received calls and emails from physicians who do not have the masks necessary to comply with the new TMB rule.

However, PPE will soon be flowing to community physicians and other health care professionals thanks to extensive collaboration among TMA, county medical societies, and a host of other associations and state agencies.

To help answer questions and address concerns you might have about Texas’ supply of PPE, the TMA COVID-19 Task Force has created a frequently asked questions (FAQ) that addresses topics such as conservation strategies; options if N95 masks are unavailable; whether you should use homemade masks; and whether surgical masks, gloves, and gowns should be reused or used for more than one procedure.

You also can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.

Last Updated On

May 13, 2020

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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