Recently controversy erupted when an investigative reporter from CBS 11 discovered that a two-time Physician of the Day at the Texas Legislature, Dr. Nilon Tallant, has a criminal history. Run by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the Physician of the Day program consists of approximately ninety doctors who volunteer to treat patients on Capitol Grounds. Volunteers, like Dr. Tallant, are typically then introduced before the Legislature and receive official recognition for the day. An embarrassed Academy and Legislature are now trying to shift responsibility for their own oversight onto the Texas Medical Board.

Critics of the Board blame their ignorance of the criminal conviction on the lack of information on the TMB’s website regarding Dr. Tallant’s “self-reported” criminal history contained on his online physician profile. While true, this contention ignores the fact that there is ample information on Dr. Tallant’s conviction and Board disciplinary history readily available on the TMB and State Office of Administrative Hearings websites. The same online profile with a blank space under the section for self-reported criminal history notes that Dr. Tallant’s medical license was revoked from 1996 to 2001. Anyone performing a background check would presumably be interested in knowing the basis of the revocation. In fact, on the same page the profile contains a link to Dr. Tallant’s complete disciplinary history before the TMB including the original 1996 order expressly revoking his medical license based in part on his plea of guilty to criminal charges. At least two other modified orders from 2000 and 2001 similarly note his conviction.

Likewise, a quick scan for documents on the SOAH website using Dr. Tallant’s last name as the search term yields a copy of the 2000 Proposal of Decision issued by the Administrative Law Judge. This document notes as a finding of fact the doctor’s pleading of guilty to a criminal offense involving a patient.

The Academy and Legislature’s claim that their honoring of Dr. Tallant is due to the Medical Board’s ‘outrageous’ failure to confirm that any criminal history contained under a section holding only information self-reported by a doctor is simply not borne out by the facts. Whoever at the Academy or Legislature was in charge of performing background checks on potential Physician’s of the Day simply failed to do their job. Information on Dr. Tallant’s criminal conviction is publicly available on the TMB and SOAH websites and can be found with only the most cursory of examinations.