It seems everything is political these days. One thing I can say with certainty is patient safety should not be political. It really shouldn’t matter if you identify as liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. Patient safety should not vary depending upon whether you live in a Red or Blue state.
Repeat after me for the kids on the back row. Patient Safety is not political!
And yet, where do I begin?
Let’s take a look at the Texas Medical Board’s (TMB) own website where it touts “safeguarding the public through professional accountability.” Scrolling down a bit further on the home page, a reasonable patient would be reassured by this statement:
“Our mission is to protect and enhance the publicGrant’s health, safety and welfare by establishing and maintaining standards of excellence used in regulating the practice of medicine and ensuring quality healthcare for the citizens of Texas through licensure, discipline and education.”
And yet, the TMB has a decades long history of dropping the ball on physician oversight and seemingly bending over backwards to protect physicians rather than patients.
Public Citizen reported on problems with the TMB as far back as 2012. Dr. Sidney Wolfe went so far as to write a letter to then Governor Perry outlining several alarming findings and calling for immediate action. Included among the findings of the extensive survey were multiple instances of the TMB either failing to discipline doctors or inadequately disciplining doctors. The conclusion? This was a clear and present danger to patients. To my knowledge, this largely fell on deaf ears.
Enter stage left, Christopher Duntsch a/k/a Dr. Death. Many of you will recall that in those cases, patients, lawyers and physicians were filing complaints and calling (in some cases yelling) at the TMB to “DO SOMETHING” to stop a serial killer and yet TMB dragged its feet, ignored the pleas and clung to its excuses.
One thing I can say about the TMB after my 30 some odd years of dealing with them is that they don’t learn from their mistakes. I have been saying for years, it isn’t a question of whether we will see another Duntsch, it is WHEN.
An investigative reporter with KXAN in Austin, Matt Grant has blown the lid off some dirty little secrets. I implore you to read the entire series. You can find it by just going to the KXAN website and searching “Texas Medical Board.”
There isn’t enough space here for me to get into it, but here is the alarming gist:
No. 1: At least 49 doctors who had disciplinary actions in other states are still practicing in Texas. This includes: repeat offenders; those whose medical licenses were suspended in other states; those whose medical licenses were revoked in other states; and some who were convicted of driving drunk, domestic violence, possession of a controlled substance, and my personal favorite … operating a firearm while intoxicated.
No. 2: A patient searching for information on the TMB website about these doctors would find no record of disciplinary actions or criminal histories from other states, despite the fact that physicians are required to report this information when applying for a Texas medical license. And, despite the fact that by law (Texas Occupations Code sec. 154.006) this information must be contained on the physician’s public profile.
No. 3: The TMB says it is up to the physician to self-report and admits it will be “more proactive” about posting on a physician’s profile when they find out through other means.
No. 4: Physicians who do not abide by the “honor system” of self-reporting may or may not face disciplinary action for failing to disclose their prior disciplinary and criminal histories.
No. 5: The information is available to the TMB if they just requested it by querying the National Practitioner Data Bank. The data is secret from patients by the way. But, TMB does not routinely seek the information.
No. 6: TMB is not following the law and is putting patients at risk.
So, why do I say it’s political? Well, for starters anyone else who had one job to do and so blatantly, chronically and repetitively failed to do their job would be CANNED and probably sued. But, we can’t sue the TMB.
The appointees to the TMB are political appointments made by the governor. There is not a single patient safety advocate who sits on the board. Not one. Several of those currently sitting on the board have ZERO experience in health care.
As a patient, wouldn’t you want to know this information? Do you agree that patients deserve transparency? Don’t we have an absolute right to know so that we can make informed decisions?
The bottom line is we have to be able to trust the TMB to do their job, as if OUR lives depended on it. Oh, that’s right … they do.
The TMB and whomever else involved with the deceiving of patients well-being and care should be with the up most held accountable for All of their Wrong doings!!!!!
Ms Wey,it is out in the media the negligence of the Texas Medical Board and even though it is numerous faults with the Texas Medical Board, I do not feel it’s coincidental after the trauma and lies the Burton family has been through. I thank God the truth is being revealed, but the Burton family is suffering from the TMB negligence with high amount of stress ,suffering from anxiety,anger, and grief the TMB, Joseph Varon,and hospital has caused my family and I. The burton family spoke with Senator Bob hall and prosecutor with Texas Attorney general and both has stated this is a civil case, but we do not have a lawyer yet because the entire 2 years TMB tricked us at a very vulnerable time saying keep confidential, although the anger and hurt the Burton family had, we wanted to scream to the media how Varon killed my father, we were being patient with TMB thinking they will do they job but overall it was a trick to silence us, but now we are ready to talk. My father did not die of Covid. TMB cover up was Varon used modern medicine, I have been a LVN for 12 years and back and forward pursuing my RN so I know what’s right and wrong in the medical field and Varon was absolutely WRONG and did not use modern medicine. He used heavy tranquilizers such as schizophrenia medications and treated my father like an animal giving him animal medication such as Ivermectin we never gave consent to. I pray federal agencies will steer to the right direction and realize it is NOT TO LATE to hold all the evilness and devil accountable.We are seeking and praying for justice. We have put a lot in Jesus hands to fight out battle, but I know God has assigned certain people to positions to help the citizens with the law of the land. My father taught me never depend on man because man will let you down and God is our righteous judge, but for now and the way my father left this world, justice will give our hearts and mind some peace. Thank you and may you use your position and strong mind frame to persue our complaint in higher and right hands to fix the problem Texas has suffered for years with the Texas medical board letting people literally get away with murder due to politics and who has the most amount of money to sponsor the governor. That should not determine patient safety. Respectfully, Salisa