How To Get Your Medical License RestoredMedical Defense
The Texas Medical Practice Act of 1999 authorizes the Texas Medical Board (TMB) to issue and to discipline the medical licenses it grants to medical doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs). The TMB’s mission is to protect the public by regulating the practice of medicine and by ensuring quality health care for the people of Texas. The Texas Medical Board also serves as the staff of the Texas Physician Assistant Board and the State Board of Acupuncture Examiners.
A complaint about you can be filed by any patient, colleague, state agency, insurance company, or even a law enforcement agency. If the Texas Medical Board contacts you regarding your a complaint, you must understand your options and have a plan of action. The identity of the party filing a complaint remains confidential unless it is waived in writing or unless the complainant testifies against you in a hearing.
The complaint process begins with a letter. In most cases, the TMB will notify a licensee by letter that an allegation has been made. The letter will ask for a response within a specified time period. The response needs to be swift, and you need to write that response with help from an experienced Texas medical license defense attorney. Should you ignore the letter and fail to respond, an investigation will be launched. After your response to the inquiry letter has been received and the preliminary investigation is concluded, the TMB will determine if there is probable cause to justify further investigation, and if so, the process begins in earnest.
IF YOUR MEDICAL LICENSE IS AT RISK, HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND?
If you are investigated by the Texas Medical Board, you will receive a notification that an investigation is underway. The notification will ask you to explain and respond to the allegations and to complete a medical practice questionnaire. You will have 14 to 21 days to submit your response. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it’s absolutely imperative to have the help of a Dallas medical license defense attorney as you draft your response to allegations against you, and it’s extremely important that any inaccuracies or false information in the complaint submitted to the Texas Medical Board be identified disclosed as early as possible.
You’ll also want to determine if the complaint or the investigation has triggered mandatory reporting to hospitals, malpractice carriers, managed care plans, or other state licensing boards. You may have to submit re-credentialing documents to hospitals, the DEA, and/or the Texas Department of Public Safety. It’s quite common for the Texas Medical Board to ask for additional information during the course of an investigation.
If the TMB investigation process finds that no violation has happened, the investigation is closed, and the original complainant is informed of the reason for the complaint’s dismissal. However, if the Texas Medical Board determines that a violation may have occurred and that a formal hearing is required, a written notice of an “Informal Show Compliance Proceeding” will be sent to both the licensee and the complainant(s). ISC proceedings are held in Austin. The ISC Notice includes the time and date of the proceeding, the specific charges, an explanation of the ISC process, and a computer disk with all of the pertinent documents.
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN ISC PROCEEDING?
The ISC Proceeding allows a licensee to demonstrate compliance with all requirements of the Texas Medical Practice Act and the Texas Medical Board rules and regulations. The licensee and his or her attorney are given the opportunity to dispute the charges, and the complainant may also be allowed to make a statement. The Texas Medical Board representatives are usually a two or three-person panel which will always include a licensed professional member.
Texas Medical Board panel members will then deliberate and make a recommendation to either dismiss the allegation, to acquire more information, to refer the matter to a temporary suspension hearing, to refer the matter to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a contested hearing, or to order a disciplinary measure. Overwhelmingly, most cases are resolved by a disciplinary order or a dismissal of the complaint. If dismissal is the decision, the licensee will receive a letter showing that the case was dismissed.
If action is deferred, more information is gathered and a recommendation is made after further deliberation. If a discipline order is recommended, the findings and the terms of discipline are presented in writing. If the Texas Medical Board determines that a licensee is a “continuing threat to the public welfare,” a temporary suspension of the license or temporary restrictions on the licensee’s practice will be ordered. If the licensee is suspended or restricted, the physician must litigate at SOAH.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A SOAH HEARING?
SOAH is the State Office of Administrative Hearings, where Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) conduct hearings in cases referred from state agencies. A SOAH hearing is like a trial, with evidence being presented and witnesses testifying. The ALJ presides and considers the evidence. After a SOAH hearing, the ALJ will write a Proposal for Decision which analyzes the evidence and recommends an action to the Texas Medical Board. The TMB will then conduct a hearing on the Proposal for Decision where the Administrative Law Judge presents the Proposal for Decision and lawyers for both sides present their responses.
Then the TMB will vote to accept the Proposal for Decision, to accept a different proposal, or to dismiss the charges. If the licensee faces disciplinary action, license suspension, or license revocation, he or she may request a rehearing. If that request is denied, the case may be appealed in the Travis County District Court. All administrative avenues must be exhausted, however, before a medical license revocation case goes to court for an appeal.
A medical license revocation does not necessarily mean the end of your medical career. If you are in danger of a medical license suspension or revocation by the TMB, you’ll need to contact a Dallas medical license defense attorney with substantial experience in the defense of medical licenses – someone who knows how to prevail in TMB proceedings and SOAH hearings as well as appeals to the District Court. If your license is revoked, have a trustworthy medical license defense attorney advocate in court on your behalf and argue that the revocation was either unjust or that the reason for the revocation has been overcome and resolved.