Texas Medical Board Updates COVID-19 Minimum Standards of Safe Practice FAQ

May 6, 2020

Today, the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”) released an updated Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) document in response to the adopted emergency rule issued to enforce Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19.  A few key takeaways follow:

Where should a physician post the required notice?

As discussed in our previous update, the emergency rule requires physicians to post notice of the minimum standards for safe practice in each public area and treatment room or area of the office, practice or facility to ensure patients understand the measures.  TMB recommends displaying the required notice in areas most visible to patients.  As a reminder, a printable PDF notice is available here

When does the emergency rule require a mask be worn?

The rule requires wearing of masks when in “proximity of the patient.” TMB defines “proximity of the patient” to mean less than a 6-foot distance between the patient and the physician or the physician’s delegate.  If the physician and patient are not within proximity of each other, then masks do not have to be worn.  Doctor offices may set their own policy on mask and glove requirements outside of the patient-physician interaction. 

Are there situations when a mask does not have to be worn for a medical encounter?

Yes. There may be situations when a patient cannot wear a mask or is incapable of wearing a mask. There may also be certain medical acts or procedures where the wearing of the mask is not feasible as it would impede the medical procedure or act being performed. Examples provided by TMB include infants, head and neck trauma, examination of the mouth, and situations where the patient cannot put on a mask.  A practitioner must use the practitioner’s own judgment in such situations, utilizing all possible means of safety and taking into account the needs of the patient and the safety of healthcare workers and other patients.  If a patient cannot wear a mask and the physician choses to deliver care, the practitioner should document the circumstances surrounding such decision.

How does the emergency rule apply to med spas?

TMB’s enforcement jurisdiction is limited to TMB licensees and the procedures those licensees perform, regardless of the type of business offering those services. TMB cannot advise or direct businesses about when they should reopen.  Licensees regulated by other state agencies should refer to their licensing boards for guidance, rules, laws and direction as to when to reopen.  TMB does note that if medical procedures such as Botox injections or medical cosmetic procedures are occuring, they must be performed under the delegation of a physician and be consistent with TMB rules and all other applicable laws and rules, including implementing safety measures to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19.

How does the emergency rule apply to TMB licensees? All licensees, certificate holders, and permit holders subject to regulation by the TMB or its advisory boards and committees must follow the emergency rule’s minimum safety requirements.