Texas passes patient safety bill to prevent future 'Dr. Death' cases


A new bill passed by Texas lawmakers would let the state medical board crack down harder on physicians who could be dangerous to patients. 

The Texas House and Senate signed the bill May 29, and it is awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott's signature. 

The bill comes five years after former Texas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, MD, PhD, nicknamed "Dr. Death," was sentenced for killing or injuring multiple patients. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Duntsch's operations left 31 patients paralyzed or seriously injured and two of them dead. His license was revoked in 2013, and in 2017 he was sentenced to life in prison.  

The legislation makes lying on a medical license application a Class A misdemeanor, and physicians who had their license suspended in another state wouldn't be able to practice in Texas.  

Under the bill, the Texas state medical board would also do regular monitoring of the National Practitioner Data Bank to stay updated on physicians arrests, malpractice lawsuits and other disciplinary actions. Licensed physicians would incur a small fee to cover monitoring costs.

"We have closed a loophole that allowed for situations like Dr. Death cases to happen and gave the TMB necessary tools to properly credential and investigate physician malpractice," Rep. Julie Johnson, the bill's author, told NBC affiliate KXAN. "Texas patients will have greater protection and transparency going forward."

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