How to Handle the Informal Settlement Conference in a Licensing Board Proceeding

Earning a professional license comes from completing an often years-long process involving education, practical work experience, and license exams. However, the pressure continues once you have obtained your license. Even once you have your license, you must still maintain continuing education requirements, follow various rules and regulations, and periodically meet certain requirements to renew it. If you violate those rules, you can be subject to licensing board investigations and disciplinary proceedings.

The outcome of a licensing board disciplinary proceeding can involve severe sanctions that impact your professional license and ability to practice in your field. Allegations of misconduct can adversely affect your career for years to come. As a result, if you are facing licensing board disciplinary proceedings, you should immediately consult an experienced licensing board defense attorney. Your lawyer can represent your interests throughout any investigation and formal disciplinary proceedings, including during the informal settlement conference before your licensing board. 

How Informal Settlement Conferences Work

The informal settlement conference is a common way to resolve a licensing board complaint. Various licensing boards use informal settlement conferences to attempt to resolve disciplinary complaints before moving to formal disciplinary proceedings involving contested administrative hearings before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The participants at an informal settlement conference vary. Still, the licensee who is the subject of the disciplinary complaint can always attend with their attorney, although their attendance is purely voluntary. However, a failure to attend an informal settlement conference is likely to result in the initiation of formal contested disciplinary case proceedings. 

Likewise, a licensing board’s format and procedures at an informal settlement conference may vary. Typically, board representatives and the licensee will attempt to agree on how to resolve the disciplinary complaint. The licensing board likely will have a proposal for resolution, often in the form of an agreed board order. The licensee likely will have the opportunity to produce evidence showing that they are following all relevant rules and violations and otherwise defend themselves against the allegations in the complaint. If the parties can resolve the matter, they will sign an agreement to resolve the complaint, which the director of the licensing board typically must approve. 

Informal Settlement Conferences Before the Texas Medical Board

The Texas Medicaid Board (TMB) is one example of a professional licensing agency that routinely uses informal settlement conferences to resolve most disciplinary complaints that it receives. The TMB reports that it resolves 90% of its complaints through its informal settlement conference process.

When the TMB receives a complaint and determines that a licensee has violated the Texas Medical Practice Act, it refers the complaint to its Litigation Department for a potential informal settlement conference (ISC). A TMB staff attorney schedules an ISB before a TMB disciplinary panel to review the complaint and evidence and allow the licensee to present evidence of compliance.

After the ISC occurs, the TMB can refer the case for dismissal, offer the licensee a non-disciplinary corrective Remedial Plan containing an admission to minor violations and specific corrective actions, or offer the licensee an Agreed Order containing an admission of violations and specific sanctions. However, suppose the TMB does not recommend dismissal and the parties cannot reach an agreed resolution. In that case, the case may proceed to a formal contested hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. 

Informal Settlement Conferences Before the Texas Board of Nursing

Like the TMB, the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) often offers an optional informal settlement conference (ISC) to licenses facing disciplinary complaints. Licensees and their attorneys can attend an ISC with a BON attorney and staff members, at which point they can present evidence on their behalf. The parties then can discuss various settlement options and attempt to resolve the disciplinary complaint informally. Typically, any resolution stemming from an ISC is in the form of an Agreed Board Order, a negotiated agreement by which the licensee admits the violation(s) at issue and agrees to comply with certain terms and conditions, including some sanctions. Those sanctions can range from a reprimand to a license suspension, depending on the severity of the violation(s). The BON ultimately must review and approve the terms of the Agreed Order.

We Are Here to Defend You Throughout Your Investigation

Investigations of disciplinary complaints and ensuing licensing board proceedings can be challenging, stressful, and burdensome. The potential sanctions you may face because of your licensing board proceedings can be severe, including losing your license. Not only can you suffer damage to your reputation and career, but you can also lose the ability to financially support yourself and your family. By retaining the services of an experienced license defense lawyer today, you may be able to resolve your case more positively. Contact Bertolino LLP at (512) 515-9518 or visit us online.

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