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Texas Loosens Restrictions on Non Urgent Procedures

Texas Loosens Restrictions on Non Urgent Procedures
Hendershot Cowart, P.C.

Update: April 17, 2020

On April 17, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a new Executive Order which loosens some of the restrictions placed on most surgical and medical procedures under the previous order (discussed in detail below).

Gov. Abbot’s prior executive order, which was set to expire on April 21, limited health care facilities from providing any surgery or procedure that was not “immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”

About the New Order

The new order, in effect until May 8, 2020, will continue to impose restrictions on medical procedures in Texas, but will also allow for surgeries and procedures of a less urgent nature.

The April 17th order notable removes reference to “immediate” medical need, and instead requires that procedures or surgeries be:

“medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of a patient, who, without timely performance… would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”

There are two exceptions to the new order. The restrictions will not apply to:

  1. Procedures or surgeries which don’t deplete needed resources (i.e. hospital capacity or PPE); or
  2. Any procedure or surgery performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHS) that it will both:
  • Reserve at least 25% of capacity for COVID-19 treatment; and
  • Will not request PPE from any public source – local, state, or federal – for the duration of the COVID-19 public health disaster.

Loosening of restrictions on health care facilities is an initial step toward a return to normalcy taking place in Texas and other states across the country. However, the new order does NOT lift emergency rules established by the Texas Medical Board that makes performance of non-urgent elective procedures a violation of Governor’s Order and grounds for temporary license suspension and / or fines, or the required mandatory reporting of known violations. That TMB rule is to remain in effect until the declaration of the COVID-19 disaster expires.

At Hendershot Cowart, P.C., our health and medical law team is available to help providers and health care facilities decipher the many evolving orders and regulations applicable to their practice, and take needed steps toward compliance – including certifications to the THHS to qualify for exceptions. Our team is also available to assist in matters of medical license defense, audits, or other health care legal needs in these unprecedented times.

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