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Texas Medical Examiner's Office accused of fraud

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has reportedly extended an investigation well past the usual 180-day limit. A forensic anthropologist serving on a contract basis at a local Medical Examiner's Office was one of many individuals who came forward with complaints about the facility's techniques.

What was the complaint? The complaint states that another physician had stated the previous chief medical examiner used the county facility to aid his personal practice and accepted bribes in exchange for changing the official cause of death. This led the TMB to call for a review of the accused physician's cases. The physician that allegedly made these accusations states he never made the claims provided within the complaints. He points to an ongoing investigation by the TMB of the facility and an attempt to put the blame on an innocent physician.

Even so, the TMB went forward with an investigation.

Upon completion of review, investigating physicians stated the accused medical examiner used questionable quality and reliability in his completion of autopsies at the facility. In support of the complaint, a forensic pathologist tasked with reviewing cases stated it was "inexplicable" that the accused ruled some of the cases as "accidental" deaths.

How can the investigation continue? In most cases, and investigation by the TMB must be concluded within 180 days. There is an exception. If the TMB believes there is additional cause for investigation it can extend past this 180-day limit. According to a recent report, it appears the investigation continues. A letter from the TMB to one of the complainants states it is also reviewing the new ownership's requirement for extensive autopsies in order to gather tissue samples for his own personal research.

The investigation has stretched for almost one year. This provides an example of the need to act to protect your interests if accused of a crime while practicing medicine in Texas. Even when other professionals come forward to publicly condemn the accusations, allegations can result in an investigation that could stretch months or even years. This can have a significant impact on your practice. An attorney experienced in health care law can help.

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