What To Expect When Appearing Before The Texas Medical BoardMedical Defense
If you are a medical doctor in the state of Texas, and if a complaint is filed against you with the Texas Medical Board (TMB), you must respond swiftly and appropriately on your own behalf. Whether or not a complaint lodged against you has merit, your career and your entire future could potentially be in jeopardy. If you are asked to a appear before the Texas Medical Board regarding an accusation against you, you should know the basics that apply to every medical board review hearing – what to do and what not to do.
Of course, you will also need to work with an experienced Dallas medical license defense attorney and obtain the specific legal advice that pertains to your own particular situation. A serious misconduct or malpractice accusation could result in a hearing or other disciplinary proceeding. As soon as you become aware of a complaint against you, it is imperative to retain an attorney with experience defending medical licenses and experienced with the TMB review process and hearing procedure.
When the Texas Medical Board receives a complaint regarding a Texas doctor, the charge is usually handled first by trained investigators who consider the evidence to determine if the allegation warrants further investigation and/or action. In some cases, the investigators may determine that a complaint has no merit. In other cases, however, investigators may find enough evidence to require a TMB license review hearing.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON COMPLAINTS FILED AGAINST TEXAS DOCTORS?
In some cases, a medical board hearing can result in disciplinary action up to and including the loss of your medical license, so it is important to consult a lawyer as soon as you learn of the allegation. The most common complaints filed against doctors in Texas, according to the Texas Medical Board, “involve issues related to standard of care, professional incompetence, unprofessional conduct which may endanger the public, and inability to practice medicine by reason of mental or physical impairment.”
In many cases of complaints against doctors, the first thing your attorney will want to see is the medical records and any other documents pertinent to the complaint. This is one reason why you should always maintain records in an orderly and meticulous manner. Documentary evidence that confirms your side of the story is one of the most powerful tools you can use to defend your medical license. Prior to appearing before the Texas Medical Board, review with your attorney all of the pertinent records and documents so that you are familiar with them.
When hearing complaints against doctors, the Texas Medical Board is typically more benevolent when the doctor expresses a bit of humility by acknowledging obvious mistakes and admitting that he or she may have failed to make the best possible personal effort during the incident in question. But consult with your attorney first, because you must be careful about language that may be considered self-incriminating. Still, it is almost always best to indicate that you will handle a similar circumstance differently next time.
WHAT IS A “SOAH” HEARING?
If the Texas Medical Board determines that the complaint filed against you has merit, the TMB will impose some type of discipline. If you choose, you may appeal the medical board’s decision to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), where an administrative law judge (ALJ) will hear the case in a legal setting similar to a court hearing. A SOAH hearing offers both sides an opportunity to present testimony and evidence before the ALJ renders a final decision or refers the case back to the TMB for a final decision.
You may be – or you may not be – shocked to learn that many of your fellow doctors ignore written notices regarding TMB hearings until it’s almost too late for an attorney to help. Do not be in denial! An accusation against you is not simply going to disappear because you ignore it. If you are notified of a complaint or summoned to a hearing, call a Dallas medical license defense attorney and get to work on your own behalf as well – at once. You simply cannot attend a TMB hearing without being prepared.
If the TMB requests your appearance at a hearing, you also must avoid responding out of emotion. Do not ask any public official or personal acquaintance to act as a go-between or to attempt to sway the outcome of the TMB hearing. It is probably best if you do not post anything about the complaint or hearing on Facebook or on any other social media site. Defending your license is best accomplished within the system and with the help of your attorney.
And while your attorney is a vital partner, a significant part of your defense will nevertheless depend on you. Make certain that you are thoroughly acquainted with the facts, the complaint, and the pertinent documents and other evidence. A doctor who confidently and articulately defends his own actions – while expressing some humility and admitting that nobody’s perfect – can often be persuasive at a TMB hearing. Your attorney is there to advise, but if you have to defer to your attorney consistently throughout a hearing, the TMB may doubt your confidence in yourself and your actions.
IS IT BETTER TO ADMIT MISTAKES?
As you are aware, a tiny fraction of the doctors in Texas – and everywhere else – have slightly different standards when it comes to judgment. One of the TMB’s priority missions is to protect the people of Texas from those doctors. Thus, when you respond to a complaint filed against you with the TMB, it is almost always better to admit your mistakes than it is to claim that you were unaware of the mistakes. The TMB simply does not want doctors who are unaware of their own mistakes practicing medicine in the state of Texas.
No Texas doctor wants to appear at a TMB license review hearing. Yet many do. Anyone has the right to lodge a complaint against a doctor who is licensed in this state. If you are notified that a complaint has been filed against you, you must do everything that is in your power to defend yourself and to protect your medical license. When you understand how the TMB deals with complaints, and when you are represented and advised by experienced counsel, you are in the best possible position to prevail at the TMB hearing and retain your medical license.