31 how to handle a complaint against your acupuncturist license

You’ve worked hard to become a licensed acupuncturist in the state of Texas. After successfully building a career and developing a solid client base, someone has filed a complaint against your license. Even if the complaint is groundless, you still must proactively take action to protect your license and career. Contact an acupuncturist license defense attorney to help you deal with the complaint and any ensuing disciplinary proceedings. 

Investigation of Complaints by the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners 

Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners (TSBAE) receives and investigates complaints about licensed acupuncturists. They perform a preliminary inquiry to determine whether there is evidence to support allegations of violating the laws or rules governing licensed acupuncturists. An attorney for the TSBAE investigates administrative complaints, whereas a medical professional investigates complaints concerning patient care. Although TSBAE staff may contact the acupuncturist during the initial investigation, they are not required to do so; they are not required to contact the acupuncturist until opening a formal investigation. 

Following the initial investigation, TSBAAE staff will recommend dismissal if there is insufficient evidence to find that a violation has occurred. However, if there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, a further investigation will ensue. The acupuncturist will also receive formal notice of the complaint and have the chance to respond. After a full investigation is complete, TSBAE staff can:

  • Recommend that the complaint be dismissed,
  • Refer the complaint for review by a Quality Assurance (QA) panel, or
  • Offer the acupuncturist a remedial plan, which is a non-disciplinary corrective action 

Disciplinary Proceedings Before the TSBAE

If your complaint is referred to a QA panel for further review, they can ask for further investigation, recommend dismissal, offer a remedial plan, or set the case for an informal settlement conference, which is an informal hearing before the TSBAE. Following an informal settlement conference, representatives of TSBAE may recommend dismissal, offer a remedial plan, or recommend certain disciplinary sanctions. You can agree to disciplinary sanctions, negotiate an agreed-upon resolution, or, if you cannot reach an agreement, you can request an administrative hearing. 

At that point, TSBAE would transfer your case to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for assignment to an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ holds an administrative hearing and hears evidence from both sides. Following the presentation of evidence, the ALJ will issue a proposal for decision (PFD). The TSBAE has the authority to accept or reject the ALJ’s PFD. Final decisions made by the TSBAE are appealable in District Court. 

Grounds for TSBAE Disciplinary Action

Tex. Occ. Code § 205.351 outlines several grounds that may subject a licensed acupuncturist to disciplinary action after notice and a hearing, as follows:

  • Intemperately using drugs or alcohol to the extent that it could endanger the lives of patients
  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain a license by fraud or deception
  • Being adjudged mentally incompetent by a court
  • Having a mental or physical condition that renders the person unable to perform safely as an acupuncturist
  • Failing to practice acupuncture in an acceptable manner consistent with public health and welfare
  • Being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony or receiving deferred adjudication or pre-trial diversion for such an offense
  • Holding the person out as a physician or surgeon unless also licensed by the medical board as a physician or surgeon
  • Fraudulently or deceptively using a license
  • Engaging in unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud, or injure a member of the public
  • Committing an act connected with the person’s practice as an acupuncturist in violation of state law 
  • Failing to adequately supervise the activities of a person acting under the supervision of the license holder
  • Directly or indirectly aiding or abetting the practice of acupuncture by any person not licensed to practice acupuncture by the acupuncture board
  • Being unable to practice acupuncture with reasonable skill and with safety to patients because of illness, drunkenness, or excessive use of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or because of any mental or physical condition
  • Being the subject of repeated or recurring meritorious healthcare liability claims that is evidence of professional incompetence likely to injure the public
  • Having a license to practice acupuncture suspended, revoked, or restricted by another state or has been subject to other disciplinary action by another state or by the uniformed services of the United States regarding practice as an acupuncturist, or
  • Sexually abusing or exploiting another person through the license holder’s practice as an acupuncturist

Potential Disciplinary Sanctions by the TSBAE

If the TSBAE finds that disciplinary sanctions are appropriate for violating TSBAE rules or laws, it can impose the following types of sanctions under Tex. Occ. Code § 205.352:

  • Deny the person’s application for a license or certificate renewal to practice acupuncture or revoke the person’s license or certificate to practice acupuncture
  • Require the person to submit to the care, counseling, or treatment of a health care practitioner as a condition for the continuance or renewal of a license or certificate to practice acupuncture
  • Require the person to participate in a program of education or counseling 
  • Suspend, limit, or restrict the person’s license or certificate to practice acupuncture, such as limiting the practice to or excluding certain activities or requiring periodic review
  • Requiring the person to practice under the direction of an acupuncturist for a specified period
  • Assessing an administrative penalty 
  • Requiring the person to perform public service 
  • Stay enforcement of an order and place the person on probation 
  • Require the person to continue or review professional education until the person attains a degree of skill satisfactory in those areas that are the basis of the probation 
  • Require the person to report regularly to the acupuncture board, or
  • Administer a public reprimand

Get the Advice You Need About Your Acupuncturist’s License

When you face the potential loss of your career and ability to earn a living, you cannot take unwarranted 

risks. Handling such a challenging situation on your own can have disastrous results. The lawyers at 

Bertolino, LLP, can look at the facts surrounding your situation and determine the best strategy to 

protect your license. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 or get more information about us online.

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form