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TribBlog: Medical Board holds off on telemedicine changes

The Texas Medical Board has temporarily tabled a proposal that would cut EMTs and entry-level nurses out of the telemedicine equation, saying the issue needs more study.

The Texas Medical Board has temporarily tabled a proposal that would cut EMTs and entry-level nurses out of the telemedicine equation, saying the issue needs more study.

The change, which would've prohibited anyone but doctors, physicians' assistants and advanced practice nurses from presenting patients for care via long-distance videoconferencing, was set on the board's agenda today. But after staunch opposition from rural hospitals and prison doctors, who often only have telemedicine at their disposal, the board didn't take a vote. Instead, they set up a panel to study the issue. 

Here's an excerpt from a previous Texas Tribune story on the controversy.

"It's an effort that appears to be designed to ensure telemedicine patients are receiving high quality care on both ends of the video camera — though officials with the Medical Board declined to comment on their motivation. Telemedicine advocates say it would hinder use of the technology in rural health centers, where licensed vocational nurses and emergency medical technicians are often the only health care providers available.

'In towns like Turkey, Texas, if you limit an EMT's ability to provide telemedicine, people there will have to drive 80 miles for any kind of health care,' said Don McBeath, the former head of Texas Tech's telemedicine program who now advocates for the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals. 'It's creating a huge barrier to the growth of telemedicine in rural areas.'"

 

 

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