Dr. Donald Patrick, the former executive director of the Texas Medical Board, has joined the Division of Workers' Compensation as its new medical advisor. He's replacing Dr. Howard Smith, who stepped down in late May.
Patrick is taking the helm of an office in charge of overseeing investigations and sanctions of physicians who work in the Texas workers' comp system. It's an office in disarray: Former employees say the division failed to sanction dozens of unscrupulous doctors and has bowed to political pressure to keep at least one case from heading to enforcement. Half a dozen employees exited the office in the first half of this year, and state auditors and lawmakers are examining the situation.
Dr. Patrick, who holds an M.D. and a J.D., retired from the board in August 2008 after seven years. He also practiced neurosurgery in Austin from 1969 to 2001.
Division administrators asked Patrick not to talk on the record with the press, but he was kind enough to show us his new Workers' Compensation Division badge: It's official.