Maintaining independent medical judgment among hospital-employed physicians.
Senate Bill 894 allows hospitals in certain circumstances to directly hire physicians — but it also provides clear protections to ensure that employed physicians maintain independent medical judgment.
The bill requires that a hospital directly hiring physicians appoint a chief medical officer and put in place policies to ensure that a physician employed by the hospital exercises the physician's independent medical judgment in providing care to patients.
In addition, the hospital must put in place a mechanism to process and resolve complaints regarding interference or attempted interference with a physician's independent medical judgment.
The chief medical officer must notify the Texas Medical Board (TMB) that the hospital is employing physicians and that the chief medical officer will be the hospital's designated contact with TMB.
The chief medical officer must immediately report to TMB any action or event that the chief medical officer reasonably and in good faith believes constitutes a compromise of the independent medical judgment of a physician in caring for a patient. The law provides that the physician may not be disciplined for reasonably advocating for patient care.
The bill expanded the current exemptions from the prohibition of the corporate practice of medicine to include a hospital in a county with a population of less than 50,000, a hospital designated as a critical access hospital, or a hospital that is a sole community hospital.