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Nelson files more legislation
From staff reports
Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, pre-filed three additional bills today in advance of the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which reconvenes on Jan. 8.
Dental Patient Protection: Senate Bill 151 strengthens the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners' ability to ensure that dental treatment is directed solely by licensed dentists, not by corporate entities. It requires dental service organizations (DSOs) to register with the Board and prohibits them from interfering with dentists' treatment decisions. It also allows the Board to impose administrative penalties and take disciplinary action against a DSO found in violation of the Texas Dental Practice Act. Before performing dental treatment on a child, SB 151 requires that a dentist inform the child's parent or guardian that they have the option to be present in the treatment room, and it prohibits a dentist from performing the dental treatment or procedure without the parent or guardian present if they desire to be in the treatment room. Currently, DSOs are not subject to any state regulation.
"We need to ensure that these organizations are accountable to the board and, more importantly, that they are not substituting their judgment for that of our trained, licensed dentists," Nelson said. "No child should undergo complicated, painful procedures without a parent being involved at every point in the process. These types of entities have been involved in some of the illegal and, quite candidly, outrageous actions involving the enticement of children to undergo costly and oftentimes unnecessary procedures at the taxpayer’s expense.”
State Hospital Patient Safety: SB 152 expands protections for patients at state hospitals by increasing oversight, enhancing employee training and strengthening abuse and neglect reporting requirements. It allows that direct care workers in state hospitals undergo criminal background checks; directs state hospital employees to learn how to recognize and report abuse; and requires professional boards to report cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
"I was shocked to learn of the preventable tragedies that were reported at our state hospitals during the interim period," Nelson said. "These patients arrive in our facilities at their most vulnerable, and we have a responsibility to ensure their safety. This bill will help us better protect patients in our state hospitals.”
Hospital Penalties: SB 153 increases the maximum administrative penalty the Department of State Health Services may assess against hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers and end stage renal disease facilities from $1,000 per violation, per day to $25,000 to ensure they are consistent with penalties for other DSHS-regulated facilities and that they are significant enough to discourage non-compliance. It requires that DSHS consider the effect of the penalty on the hospital's ability to continue providing services when determining the amount. "Ensuring that penalties are significant enough to deter bad behavior is critical for patient safety and health care quality," Nelson said.
Legislators may continue to file bills until the bill filing deadline on March 8. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
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