Governor Abbott recently issued Executive Order GA-09 in response to the current coronavirus pandemic. The order essentially requires all licensed health care professionals to postpone elective procedures in an effort to better ensure the availability of hospital facilities and protective equipment to assist those who fighting COVID-19.
How will the TMB respond to the order?
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has supported Governor Abbott’s order and adopted emergency rules to help better ensure the board can enforce it. Three things to know about these rules include the following:
- Peer review process put on hold. The TMB has forgone the generally required peer review process and sanctioned immediate reporting of potential violations in an attempt to better ensure a prompt response to any potential violation.
- Individual or the board may file a complaint. An individual or the board as a whole can move forward with a complaint of a violation against a medical professional. Although the identity of the complainant is part of the investigation gathered by board employees, the TMB states the information will remain confidential.
- Time is of the essence. The board specifically states the report shall be given to the board “as soon as possible after the threat is identified and the relevant information” is gathered.
The rule extends beyond elective medical procedures and also includes dental, dermatological and ophthalmological procedures. The order also states that abortions are not allowed at this time unless “the procedures I necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
At this time, the order is effective through April 21, 2020. However, Governor Abbott could extend the order. We will provide updates as they become available