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TMB expands "Unprofessional and Dishonorable Conduct"

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) recently announced an expansion of the definition of the term "Unprofessional and Dishonorable Conduct." The change is in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Three things physicians need to know about TMB's recent expansion to "unprofessional and dishonorable conduct" definition

The change is the result of an emergency rule. It requires all physicians providing patient care or otherwise engaging in in-person patient encounters must implement the following:

  • Screening. Both patient and physician must follow the facility or practice's policies regarding COVID-19 screening measures and testing. This includes requiring patient screening within the last 20 days prior to any encounter.
  • Using masks. Both the physician and patient must wear a mask when unable to maintain 6 feet of separation. This requirement is expanded to include use of an N95 mask, or an equivalent, and a face shield for the medical professional if the appointment involves a procedure or surgery to a mucous membrane that results in a high risk of aerosol transmission.
  • Postings. The TMB also requires physicians post COVID-19 Minimum Standards of Safe Practices Notice in public areas and treatment rooms within the office, practice or facility.

The rule went into effect May 1, 2020.

The reason physicians need to know about this change

The changes are important as they will likely impact TMB investigations. A failure to abide by the rules noted above could trigger an investigation. If the investigation results in evidence of a violation it could threaten a physician's medical license. As such, it is wise for medical professionals to take allegations of a violation seriously.

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