Monday, April 27, 2009

Where Does the Texas Medical Board Rank Concerning Serious Disciplinary Actions?

If a medical professional acts in a way that is inconsistent with his or her duties, each state has a medical board in place to review complaints and determine appropriate discipline. Was there a misdiagnosis that resulted in harmful treatment? Did your psychiatrist make inappropriate advances towards you? Perhaps the surgeon down the street decided to make a little extra money by selling prescription medication to family and friends. All of these issues would be brought before a medical board. Some in the Texas state legislature believe that our state's medical board is too powerful and there is pending legislation to curtail its powers. However, is the concern warranted?

New rankings were released this week by Public Citizen, a nonprofit group that ranks the number of serious disciplinary actions taken every year by medical boards. Where did Texas fall on that list? Between 2006 and 2008, the Texas Medical Board ranked thirty-third out of the fifty states and Washington, D.C. based on how often it has revoked a medical license, had a doctor surrender a license, suspended a license or restricted a license. This number is low despite the fact that the number of complaints filed with the Texas Medical Board has greatly increased over the past several years.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen’s acting president and director of its Health Research Group, believes it may be the latter. As part of the study's release, which shows a national downward trend in discipline, he stated that, “State lawmakers must give serious attention to finding out why their states are failing to discipline doctors and then they need to take action." Perhaps he would recommend that instead of limiting the power of the medical board, our legislature should be doing more to make sure the existing powers are being used effectively.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who practice in the area of medical licensing and review before medical boards. We are following the decisions of the lawmakers in Austin so that our clients can know exactly what to expect if they are ever brought before the Texas Medical Board. If you are a doctor or other medical professional who needs legal assistance, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

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