The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (the Board) handles the licensing of any individual who is seeking to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), or an Equine Dental Provider (EDP). In addition, the Board receives and investigates all complaints concerning DVMs, LVTs, and EDPs who have allegedly violated the rules and laws they must follow.
Unfortunately, these rules and laws can be complicated, and the loss of your license can leave you without a job and damaged reputation. As a result, you may need to contact a Texas veterinary license defense lawyer for assistance if you receive notice of a complaint against your license.
Rules and Laws that Govern the Actions of Veterinary Professionals
22 Tex. Admin. Code §573 et al. sets forth the rules of professional conduct that govern all veterinary professionals. Violation of these rules or other laws that pertain to veterinarians and other veterinary professionals can result in disciplinary actions by the Board.
Licensees must cooperate with any Board inspections or investigations under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §573.75. Generally, licensees must respond to the Board within 21 days of receipt to requests for information concerning complaints or other matters unless the Board imposes another deadline, or the licensees cannot comply with the deadline for a good cause and request another deadline.
Grounds for Disciplinary Action Against Veterinarians
Tex. Occ. Code §801.402 sets forth the grounds for disciplinary action against veterinary professionals, which include the following:
- presenting dishonest or fraudulent evidence of the person’s qualifications;
- committing fraud or deception in the exam or licensing process;
- being chronically or habitually intoxicated, chemically dependent, or addicted to drugs;
- engaging in dishonest or illegal practices in, or connected with, the practice of veterinary medicine or the practice of equine dentistry;
- being convicted of a felony;
- engaging in practices or conduct that violates the Board’s rules of professional conduct;
- permitting another to use the person’s license to practice veterinary medicine or to practice equine dentistry in Texas;
- fraudulently issuing a health certificate, vaccination certificate, test chart, or other form used in the practice of veterinary medicine or the practice of equine dentistry that relates to the presence or absence of animal disease;
- issuing a false certificate relating to the sale for human consumption of inedible animal products;
- committing fraud in connection with the application or reporting of a test of animal disease;
- paying or receiving a kickback, rebate, bonus, or other remuneration for treating an animal or for referring a client to another provider of veterinary or equine dental services or goods;
- performing or prescribing unnecessary or unauthorized treatment;
- ordering a prescription drug or controlled substance for the treatment of an animal without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
- refusing to admit a board representative to inspect the person’s client and patient records and business premises during regular business hours;
- failing to keep the person’s equipment and business in a sanitary condition;
- committing gross malpractice or a pattern of acts that indicate consistent malpractice, negligence, or incompetence in the practice of veterinary medicine or the practice of equine dentistry;
- being subject to disciplinary action in another jurisdiction, including the suspension, probation, or revocation of a license to practice veterinary medicine or to practice equine dentistry issued by another jurisdiction;
- being convicted for certain criminal offenses involving cruelty to animals;
- representing oneself as a veterinarian without a license;
- practicing veterinary medicine or assisting in the practice of veterinary medicine without a license issued under this chapter; or
- violating Section 801.353 or a rule adopted by the board related to confidentiality.
Nonpayment of Child Support and Student Loans
Under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §573.78, defaulting on student loan repayment agreements can result in disciplinary action by the Board. Likewise, a final order suspending a professional license for failure to pay child support as ordered may subject a licensee to disciplinary action.
Continuing Education Requirements
Texas veterinary professionals are subject to continuing education requirements. 22 Tex. Admin. Code §573.66 provides that failing to complete the required continuing education hours without a hardship extension shall result in disciplinary action. Similarly, not maintaining the required records, falsifying records, or intentionally misrepresenting programs for continuing education credit shall be grounds for disciplinary action by the Board.
Complaints About Veterinary Professionals
Under the Texas Veterinary Licensing Act, Tex. Occ. Code §801.001 et seq., the Board must review all complaints about veterinary professionals and prioritize those complaints that involve more serious allegations first. In addition, the Board must handle complaints promptly and establish a schedule for each phase of the complaint process that does not exceed 30 days.
If the complaint does not require medical expertise to review, the Board may delegate review of the complaint to a committee of board staff, who can dismiss the complaint or resolve it via an agreed settlement. The Board must approve the committee’s disposition at its public meeting.
However, the committee must refer the complaint for informal proceedings if any of the following occur:
- The committee determines that the complaint should neither be dismissed nor settled by agreement;
- The committee is unable to reach an agreed settlement; or
- The licensee requests that the complaint be referred for informal proceedings.
If a complaint requires medical expertise to review, the Board must designate one or more veterinarians to review the complaint under Tex. Occ. Code §801.2055 and determine whether to dismiss it or refer it for informal proceedings.
Potential Sanctions in Disciplinary Proceedings
Tex. Occ. Code §801.401 outlines the potential sanctions the Board may impose on veterinary professionals in disciplinary proceedings. Sanctions may include:
- Imposition of a reprimand;
- Assessment of an administrative penalty;
- License suspension;
- Placement of a license holder or an individual whose license has been suspended on probation; or
- License revocation.
The Board also may order veterinarians to participate in the peer assistance program if it determines that they are impaired professionals under Texas law. Impaired professionals are those whose ability to perform professional services is impaired by drug or alcohol dependency or mental illness.
Furthermore, 22 Tex. Admin. Code §573.67 provides that the Board may require a licensee who violates Board rules or the Veterinary Licensing Act to participate in continuing education hours beyond those already required by Board rules. The amount and nature of the required hours depend on the seriousness and nature of the licensee’s violation.
Get Help Defending Your Veterinary License Today
A complaint can significantly affect your career and your ability to support yourself. Disciplinary action against you may result in the suspension or revocation of your license. However, you may avoid these damaging consequences with the right type of defense from the outset of your case. Contact the veterinarian license defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP, so that we can begin investigating your case. You can call our office at (512) 515-9518 or visit us online to get more information about the services we can offer you.