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The anatomy of a lawsuit: TX neurologist sues TMB

A Texas neurologist recently filed a lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board (TMB) due to its failure to remove a disciplinary filing against him from the federal National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The physician argues this filing should be removed as he was exonerated. The TMB states removal is "beyond its authority."

What were the initial allegations?

The dispute involves a neurologist who has a reputation that spans back into the nineties for holding hospital administration, his peers and management accountable for their failures. Examples include complaints regarding substandard care at medical facilities and retaliation for filing such complaints.

In the dispute at issue, the TMB imposed an emergency restriction on the neurologists' medical license shortly after the physician filed medical care complaints against facilities in the state. This led to a filing on the NPDB. Information on this database is reviewed by hospitals, insurers and other medical institutions. Presence of a disciplinary filing within the NPDB can result in difficulty finding employment. As such, unless the TMB removes the filing the physician may not be able to get a position at a hospital or other medical facility.

What can other physicians learn from this case?

The case provides an opportunity to discuss the basic anatomy of a lawsuit for these types of disputes. In this case, the dispute likely progressed as follows:

  • Issue arises. The first step was the discovery of the issue. The physician was able to present a successful case, which should have led to a removal of the disciplinary filing. Instead, the TMB refused.
  • Lawsuit filed. The physician then filed a suit against the TMB, stating it acted "ultra vires" or without legal authority when it refused to remove the disciplinary filing from the national database.
  • Court decision. If the case does not settle, the District Judge presiding over the case will likely rule on the matter. In this case, he ruled in favor of the physician.
  • Appeal. The loosing party may choose to appeal the decision and continue litigation. This could result in additional review or a future settlement.

It is important to note the exact progression of a case will depend on the details of each dispute, but the above gives a general idea of how similar issues would progress through the legal system.

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