On Jan. 1, renewal of controlled substances registration (CSR) permits issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) should have become part of physicians' biennial online medical license renewal with the Texas Medical Board (TMB). TMA advocated passage of House Bill 1803 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy) and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to ease the administrative hassle and red tape on physicians when they renew their CSR permits, and to avoid interruptions in patient care and in physicians' practices due to inadvertent expirations.
Under the law, permits valid on Jan. 1 would automatically extend to the date of the physician's next state medical license renewal. At that time, the CSR permit would be valid for two years for a $50 fee.
TMB reports that it had completed the work necessary to implement HB 1803 by Jan. 1, including developing data-sharing capabilities that allow information to flow electronically to DPS for processing. DPS wasn't prepared, however, by Jan. 1 to allow for the two-year permit and to synchronize the expiration of the permit with the physician's license renewal date.
In the past, physicians have had problems when DPS didn't process renewals in a timely manner, before the CSR permit's expiration. When physicians are unable to renew their CSR permits, they can't prescribe medications. A physician's ability to prescribe medications hinges on possession of a valid CSR, which is necessary to obtain a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Just as critical, a physician whose CSR permit lapses faces (at least) temporary suspension of hospital privileges, as maintaining current certifications is a requirement to retain medical staff privileges in Texas.
To address concerns among physicians and to ensure DPS is ready to begin processing CSR renewals, TMA has been meeting with department officials and TMB representatives. DPS told TMA in February that it will take at least six weeks to implement necessary changes to its processing system and to verify test data.
As an interim solution, DPS officials say they'll begin synchronizing the CSR expiration date with the TMB expiration date "in the near future." To ensure physicians don't experience any disruption in their controlled substances prescribing authority or place medical staff privileges at risk, DPS has posted the following information on its Controlled Substances Search and Verification System website:
- CSRs that currently expire in February 2014 or March 2014 will automatically be renewed by DPS with a temporary one-year expiration date. The renewal will be completed before expiration without the renewal application and associated fee. No action is required by the physician. The information on the Controlled Substances Search and Verification System will be updated.
- Programming changes are under way at DPS to implement the statutory requirement to synchronize the CSR expiration date with the TMB expiration date.
- Upon completion of the synchronization, the information on the Controlled Substances Search and Verification System will be updated, and new CSR certificates will be mailed to each affected practitioner.
Visit the DPS Regulatory Services webpage for updates and additional information as it becomes available.