TX Medical Board Rapped for Poor Oversight

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 24, 2012

"We get roughly 7,000 complaints a year and we are complaint-driven, which mean we don't launch investigations in the absence of a complaint to our agency," she says. "When hospitals take an action against one of their own physicians they are supposed to report that to us and we will decide whether or not we are going to pursue it. The same is somewhat true with medical malpractice cases. We get that information as well but it doesn't automatically translate into a Texas Medical Board case."

Rather than being a laggard, Hopper says that Texas Medical Board is "considered a leader" among state medical boards with "processes (that) are emulated by others." She says the Federation of State Medical Boards data puts Texas at the top of the list when it comes to doling out discipline.

"I hate to say we are No. 1 because it makes it sound like we are competing which we are not," she says. "But when you look at the number of disciplinary actions in the physician population we've taken the last couple of years Texas has taken more action per physician than other states."

Public Citizen urged Perry to:

  • Allow the medical board to keep all—not just one-third—of the revenue it generates so it can hire more staff and complete more investigations in a timely manner.
  • Appoint an independent medical board enforcement monitor to evaluate the disciplinary system and the board's enforcement procedures, as well as play an active role in maintaining integrity of these processes into the future.
  • Institute random practice audits of physicians, as recommended by the Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General, to identify practice deficiencies.

HealthLeaders Media's calls to Perry's office seeking a response were not returned on Wednesday.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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