Physician Member Concern
If you are a physician member with a concern about another member of the society that involves a potential quality of care issue or medical ethics violation, contact the HCMS Peer Review Department at 713-524-4267 to discuss the matter and HCMS' processes for review.
If the issue involves possible physician impairment, contact staff for the HCMS Physicians Counseling Committee at 713-524-4267. Or you may wish to contact the state Texas Physician Health Program (TXPHP).
HCMS is not able to review cases involving expert witness testimony. Instead, a physician may wish to contact the appropriate national or state specialty society. The specialty societies have the expertise to address these types of cases.
To register a formal concern through HCMS about another member of the society, send a signed letter on your letterhead with any supporting documents* relevant to the case, along with the patient's signed authorization to release medical records/private health information (PHI), and mail it to the address listed below.
*Supporting documents: Documented conversations, patient medical records, and other pertinent information.
Note: The Texas Medical Association (TMA) Hearings Procedures Manual requires that charges against a society member may not be anonymous, must be in writing, and the respondent must receive a copy of the charges.
Harris County Medical Society
ATTN: Board of Ethics
1515 Hermann Drive
Houston, TX 77004-7126
For confidentiality purposes, please do not submit any information by fax or email.
Any information presented to the Board of Ethics/Peer Review Department that does not meet HIPAA Privacy Standards cannot be accepted and will be returned. Prior to submitting any patient medical records or PHI, the Board requires that the information be accompanied by a HIPAA-compliant Authorization to Release Medical Records form that has been signed by the patient OR that any protected or private health information be de-identified (see below) prior to submission.
HIPAA Privacy Standards Overview
General Prohibition: PHI may not be used or disclosed except as permitted by regulation. A HIPAA-compliant medical record release authorization form must be signed by the patient before any PHI can be submitted.
Minimum Necessary Requirement: Except for the purposes of rendering treatment, only the minimum necessary information should be disclosed and only the minimum necessary personnel should have access to the information.
A peer review body cannot and must not have access to a patient's PHI without the patient's consent. Prior to submitting a request for review, a physician must obtain the patient's signed authorization for release of PHI-medical records, and submit it along with the pertinent information.
De-identified Health Information
A physician has another alternative - De-identifying the patient information. This would be an option if the physician is unable to obtain the patient's consent. The privacy standards do not apply to de-identified information and the physician may use or disclose that set of information freely. Refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health list of the 18 identifiers that must be removed to consider the information de-identified.