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TX doctor wins case against TMB: 3 lessons

Decisions by the Texas Medical Board (TMB) are not ironclad. It is possible for physicians who are the subject of these decisions to mount a successful appeal. A recent decision serves as an example of how these cases can unfold and provides some important lessons for those in similar situations.

The case began in 2015 when two patients filed a complaint against the physician, a board-certified neurologist. The TMB reviewed the complaints and put a temporary suspension on his medical license. They also reported the physician to the National Practitioner Databank (NPDB). Upon further review, the TMB realized the complaints were not supported and removed the suspension but did not void the listing on the NPDB.

#1: Physicians can fight the TMB’s findings

Arguably the most important lesson from this case is the fact that physicians, nurses, and other professionals can build a successful case against the TMB. Do not accept an unfair penalty. Take action to preserve your license if you believe the board’s actions are unreasonable.

#2: Patience is important

These cases do not always resolve as quickly as we would like. This dispute originally began back in 2015 and worked is way up the state’s court systems. It ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) where the court provided an 8-1 ruling in favor of the physician.

It took the physician seven years and a trip to SCOTX, but he was able to win his case and provide clarity for those in similar situations.

#3: Sometimes the law needs some clarification

The key issue in this case was a question of how to apply federal and state law. Both require the TMB to report certain disciplinary actions to the NPDB but were not clear on what the TMB should do if the allegations prove false.

The TMB argued that the applicable laws required it only revise the NPDB report, while the doctor stated the agency should void it. Ultimately, SCOTX agreed with the physician. This means that the TMB could completely remove the presence of the temporary suspension from the physician’s record — a win that also helps others who find themselves in similar situations.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication