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Texas Medical Board Denies Validity of Critical Report But Fails to Support its Claims With Evidence to the Contrary 

Public Citizen’s Analysis of Physician Oversight Rankles State Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen has struck a nerve with the Texas Medical Board, a reaction that may turn out to be just what is required for officials to take notice that funding for physician oversight desperately needs to be reformed.

For more than 20 years, Public Citizen has annually ranked state medical boards on the basis of the rate of serious disciplinary actions (license revocation, suspension, surrender or probation) taken per 1000 licensed physicians in that state by analyzing data in the National Practitioner Data Bank. In a letter and accompanying report to Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Aug. 22, the organization revealed that 459 Texas physicians who had already been sanctioned by the state’s hospitals, HMOs or other health care institutions – some multiple times – had yet to be disciplined by the state medical board.

“The Texas board hotly, but inaccurately, denied the report’s validity, thereby bringing more deserved attention to the fundamental issue of inadequate discipline of Texas physicians,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “Fifty-eight percent of Texas doctors sanctioned for serious offenses by hospitals and other healthcare institutions  are free to practice as if nothing happened because the medical board has not been doing its job and, in the process, has left patients in the dark about their doctor’s history.”

The medical board was so intent on a swift denial that it issued its response within hours, however it tried to refute part of the wrong report, one Public Citizen generated in March 2011. Even more outlandish is the fact that the board denied its own key evidence, previously shared with Public Citizen, that insufficient funding prevents them from keeping up with the increasing volume of complaints. The board receives only a third of the $30 million it collects from doctors annually in licensing fees, professional fees and fines. The state takes the rest for use in the general fund, apparently preferring to fatten those coffers than protect Texas patients from dangerous doctors.

To read our response to the Texas Medical Board’s allegations, visit http://www.citizen.org/hrg2067.
To read the Aug. 22 letter and report, visit http://www.citizen.org/hrg2063.

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