A doctor in Texas took issue with the Texas Medical Board’s (TMB) decision to revoke his license to practice medicine. He sued the board and could potential see reinstatement in the near future.
What were the allegations? The TMB accused the medical professional of failing to properly register his business and the inappropriate prescription of medications. The TMB used evidence from an investigation to support their decision to revoke the physician’s medical license.
The doctor contested the TMB’s revocation was based on evidence gathered through an illegal search and seizure. If so, the search would be a violation of the physician’s basic constitutional rights.
Which constitutional right? The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provides protection against illegal search and seizures. In this case, the court stated that it was concerned the TMB may have joined forces with local police department to circumvent the physician’s constitutional rights. Instead of using a warrant to conduct the search, as was legally necessary, the investors relied upon an administrative subpoena.
What’s the difference? Essentially, the police must be able to establish a high likelihood of criminal wrongdoing to get a warrant. Much less is needed to get an administrative subpoena.
What did the court decide? The judge made two specific findings:
- Illegal search. The judge stated the subpoena was not sufficient to support the investigator’s search. The judge also explained that the TMB acted improperly when it used these methods to conduct the investigation. Instead, the investigators should have obtained a warrant.
- Excessive force. The judge also found the use of multiple enforcement agencies, confiscation of cellphones, refusal of video and separation of employees was an unusual show of force for the circumstances.
Will this have a larger impact? Potentially. The court also stated the case under review may be part of a larger pattern. As a result, other physicians throughout the state that have had their license to practice medicine revoked under similar circumstances may have a case.