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What to expect during the Texas Medical Board Enforcement Process

Doctors may encounter licensing issues at any time during their careers, and they are stressful whenever they arise. Issues may include allegations involving:

  • Standard of care violations
  • Criminal charges
  • Drugs or alcohol use
  • Stark law or anti-kickback violations

If you have a received a letter from Texas Board of Medical Examiners, then your career may be on the line. Facing disciplinary action by the Texas Board of Medical Examiners is not a situation to take lightly, and it is not something that you will want to handle alone.

Here is what the process generally involves:

Complaint Is Reviewed

The Texas Medical Board reports that it receives and reviews more than 7,000 complaints against physicians every year. The complaints come from patients, families of patients, health care professionals and others.

The complaint must be reviewed within 45 days of being received, and the board may contact the physician during this time.

Investigation Begins

If the board deems that the complaint is jurisdictionally valid and a violation of the Medical Practice Act may have taken place, then it will begin the investigation. The physician will be informed and asked to provide information.

At this point, the physician being investigated will want to contact an experienced health care lawyer for representation.

Peer Review/Credentialing

If the investigation has to do with potential standard of care/treatment violations, then the situation will be reviewed by at least two members of the board's expert panel, who are board-certified in the same or similar medical specialty as the physician.

If the experts determine that the physician's actions did not meet the standard of care, the matter will then be sent to the litigation section. If the experts determine that no violation occurred, the matter will be recommended for dismissal.

Physicians have a right to defend their right to practice medicine by relying on legal representation in peer review matters. An effective lawyer will investigate and prepare a case on behalf of the physician, sometimes by calling on independent medical experts to provide testimony.

Situations that do not involve potential standard of care/treatment violations will be reviewed after gathering additional information from other sources. Legal representation is also important in these matters in order to put forth the best possible case.

Informal Resolution

If the matter is sent to the board's litigation section, it will be scheduled for an Informal Settlement Conference/Show Compliance proceeding, where a panel reviews the case and the physician (or the physician's attorney) can argue that there was no Medical Practice Act violation.

If the panel determines that the Medical Practice Act was not violated, then the matter is referred to the board's disciplinary process review committee, which determines if the case should be dismissed.

If the panel determines that there was a violation, then it may issue an order, with sanctions on the physician, or non-disciplinary corrective action known as a remedial plan.

Formal Resolution

If a resolution cannot be reached at the informal level, then the matter will be considered a formal complaint, handled by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The case is heard by an administrative law judge, who issues a proposed decision to the board after hearing both sides.

The board then either dismisses the case or issues a final order that may include sanctions against the physician.

District Court Appeal

If the physician is not happy with the final order issued by the board, he or she may appeal the decision a Travis County District Court.

As you can see, complaints against physicians are not taken lightly in Texas, and doctors have several opportunities to defend their licenses, careers and reputations. However, there are deadlines and requirements that must be met in order to do so, which is why is essential to call an experienced health care lawyer immediately.

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