The Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) licenses and governs all Texas pharmacies and pharmacists. Therefore, consumers who file complaints against individual pharmacists concerning unprofessional conduct, fraud, criminal behavior, or violation of any drug or health statute do so through TSBP.
When you receive notice of a complaint from TSBP, you could face severe consequences to your pharmacist license. Getting advice from a Texas pharmacist license defense lawyer can be crucial to your ability to protect yourself and your license from the potentially harmful consequences of a disciplinary complaint.
The TSBP Complaint Process
When TSBP receives a complaint about a pharmacist or pharmacy, it reviews and evaluates the complaint to make two initial determinations:
- Whether the complaint concerns a licensed pharmacy or pharmacist; and
- Whether the allegations, if true, would be a violation of the Texas Pharmacy Act or Texas drug laws
If the reviewer can answer both these determinations in the affirmative, then TSBP has jurisdiction over the complaint. However, if the complaint does not fall under TSBP’s jurisdiction, such as complaints of rudeness, customer service, or pricing/billing disputes, then TSBP will close the complaint or possibly refer it to another agency if warranted.
Complaints that fall within the jurisdiction of TSBP may then go to an investigator. The investigator can contact the complaining party for further information. Depending on the investigation results, the pharmacist or pharmacy could receive a verbal or written warning.
Disciplinary Actions Before the TSBP
If the complaint warrants disciplinary action against the pharmacy or pharmacist, TSBP will schedule an opportunity for the licensee to attend an informal settlement conference and inform the licensee of the issues for discussion. A panel of the TSBP typically attends the conference and recommends a disposition of the complaint. This disposition may include dismissal of the complaint, a formal warning, or some disciplinary sanction.
If the licensee agrees with the proposed disposition, they can enter an Agreed Board Order (ABO). If the TSBP Board Members accept the ABO at their next meeting, ABO becomes a final order.
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However, if the licensee does not accept the proposed ABO or the TSBP Board rejects the ABO, the case goes to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), where an administrative law judge (ALJ) will hear the case. The case will proceed much as a civil trial does in court, except with a special set of rules and procedures for Texas administrative hearings. After the hearing, the ALJ will prepare a Proposal for Decision (PFD) that contains findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended disciplinary action. TSBP Board Members then review the PFD and decide the case. If the licensee still disagrees with the Board’s decision, they have the right to appeal the decision through the state court system.
Types of Disciplinary Actions Before the TSBP
TSBP complaints can stem from various actions that violate the Texas Pharmacy Act. For instance, Tex. Occ. Code §565.001 lists several different grounds for disciplining pharmacists, such as:
- Engaging in unprofessional conduct or gross immorality as defined by rule;
- Developing an incapacity that could prevent the license holder from practicing pharmacy with reasonable skill, competence, and safety to the public;
- Engaging in fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in connection with practicing pharmacy;
- Being convicted or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision or deferred disposition for a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or certain drug offense, or a felony offense;
- Using alcohol or drugs in an intemperate manner that could endanger a patient’s life;
- Failing to maintain required records;
- Violating specific state and federal laws and rules concerning pharmacy practice or drugs;
These are only a few of an exhaustive list of violations that could give rise to a disciplinary complaint against a pharmacist licensed in Texas. These complaints could lead to severe sanctions, so taking affirmative action to handle these complaints immediately can be essential.
Sanctions for Discipline Before the TSBP
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TSBP can assess sanctions that range from a public reprimand or censure to revocation of a pharmacy or pharmacist license in a disciplinary proceeding. More specifically, under Tex. Occ. Code §565.051, TSBP can take the following actions to dispose of a disciplinary complaint against a licensee:
- Suspend the person’s license;
- Revoke the person’s license;
- Restrict the person’s license for a period by prohibiting the person from performing certain acts, practicing pharmacy, or operating a pharmacy in a particular manner under specific conditions;
- Impose an administrative penalty;
- Refuse to renew a person’s license;
- Probate the person’s license for a specific term under the supervision of the TSBP and require that the person:
- Report regularly to the TSBP
- Limit practice to the areas prescribed by the TSBP
- Continue or review professional education to the satisfaction of TSBP
- Pay a probation fee
- Reprimand the person;
- Retire the person’s license; or
- Impose more than one of the sanctions listed above.
Get Help Defending Your Pharmacy License Today
A disciplinary complaint to the TSBP can have significant adverse effects on your career that often will become a permanent part of your licensing record. Disciplinary action against you may even result in the loss of your license. However, you may avoid these damaging consequences with the right type of defense from the outset of your case. Contact the experienced pharmacist license defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP, so that we can begin investigating your case. You can call our office at (512) 476-5757 or visit us online to get more information about the services we can offer you.