Is Discrimination a Ground for Discipline Against My Medical License

As a physician, you are subject to the Texas Medical Practice Act (the Act) and other rules and laws that govern your profession. The Texas Medical Board (TMB) licenses, monitors, and regulates all individuals with medical licenses. Therefore, if a patient, a patient’s family member, a colleague, an employer, or any member of the public files a complaint against you, including a complaint based on discrimination, the Board must evaluate, investigate, and process the complaint for violations of the Act.

Failure to comply with any aspect of the Act can lead to disciplinary action by the TMB, leading to severe sanctions against your medical license. You have a lot at stake after you have completed the years of education and training to become a physician or other medical professional. Therefore, if you receive a complaint against your license, we urge you to seek the counsel of an experienced medical license defense attorney if you face allegations of misconduct related to your licensure. 

Grounds for Disciplinary Action Against Doctors

22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.8(2) provides a list of different grounds that constitute “unprofessional and dishonorable conduct” or conduct that is “likely to deceive, defraud, or injure the public within the meaning of the Act.” Therefore, these actions serve as a basis for disciplinary actions against doctors. 

Some of these grounds arguably could include different types of discriminatory behavior, including the following:

  • Engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior or comments directed toward a patient;
  • Behaving in an abusive or assaultive manner toward a patient or the patient’s family or representatives that interferes with patient care or could be reasonably expected to adversely impact the quality of care rendered to a patient; and
  • Behaving in a disruptive manner toward licensees, hospital personnel, other medical personnel, patients, family members, or others that interferes with patient care or could be reasonably expected to adversely impact the quality of care rendered to a patient.

The grounds listed in this section are not exhaustive, so other improper or inappropriate behavior, such as discrimination, could also be the basis for disciplinary action against your license. Discrimination can take many forms and may include discrimination based on sex, gender, disability, age, race, national origin, and more. Furthermore, the type of discrimination need not necessarily be prohibited under state and/or federal law to constitute a valid ground for disciplinary action by the TMB. 

Potential Sanctions for Disciplinary Action

22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.14(9) outlines the potential sanctions for various violations of the Act, including those that might encompass discrimination. For instance, abusive or disruptive behavior can result in a remedial plan, completion of anger management, communications, medical ethics continuing medical education (CME), and completion of the jurisprudence (JP) exam. For more serious violations, sanctions may include an Agreed Order requiring an Independent Medical Examination (IME) or a public referral to the Physician’s Health Program (PHP), completion of CME in medical ethics, anger management, communications with colleagues, and completion of the JP exam. For multiple violations or egregious actions that interfere with patient care, individuals may receive a public reprimand and a suspension from practice with specific terms and conditions. 

Physicians who engage in sexually inappropriate behavior or comments directed toward a patient, but no physical contact, may be subject to an Agreed Order, a public reprimand, completion of a PACE boundaries or Vanderbilt course, completion of a JP exam, completion of CME in ethics, and subject to a chaperone during medical practice for a specified period. In cases involving physical contact, individuals may receive an Agreed Order, an IME, a prohibition on treating patients of the affected gender, or suspension or revocation of one’s license. 

The minimum sanctions listed above are generally applicable to first-time violators. Repeat offenders may be subject to license revocation. Revocation of one’s license may be accompanied by an administrative penalty of up to $5,000. Each day a violation continues is a separate violation, and each statutory violation is a separate one, even if it arises from the same set of circumstances. However, suppose the physician acknowledges the violation and agrees to comply with the terms of remedial action through an Agreed Order. In that case, the TMB may impose less than the standard sanctions. 

22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.15 also sets forth aggravating and mitigating factors that the TMB may rely on in determining the appropriate sanctions for a disciplinary violation. The existence of aggravating factors may result in more severe sanctions, and the existence of mitigating factors may result in less severe sanctions. Aggravating factors include the following:

  • harm to one or more patients;
  • the severity of patient harm;
  • one or more violations that involve more than one patient;
  • economic harm to any individual or entity and the severity of such harm;
  • increased potential for harm to the public;
  • attempted concealment of the act constituting a violation;
  • intentional, premeditated, knowing, or grossly negligent act constituting a violation;
  • prior similar violations;
  • previous disciplinary action by the board, any government agency, peer review organization, or health care entity;
  • violation of a board order;
  • other relevant circumstances increasing the seriousness of the misconduct.

Mitigating factors include the following:

  • self-reported and voluntary admissions of violation(s);
  • implementation of remedial measures to correct or mitigate harm from the violation(s);
  • acknowledgment of wrongdoing and willingness to cooperate with the board, as evidenced by acceptance of an Agreed Order;
  • rehabilitative potential;
  • prior community service and present value to the community;
  • participation in a continuing medical education course described in §166.2(a)(6) of this title (relating to Continuing Medical Education) completed not more than two years before the start of the investigation if the physician is being investigated by the board regarding the physician’s selection of clinical care for the treatment of tick-borne diseases;
  • other relevant circumstances reducing the seriousness of the misconduct; and
  • other relevant circumstances lessening responsibility for the misconduct.


Adherence to the Texas Medical Practice Act (the Act) and other regulations governing the medical profession is essential for physicians to maintain their licenses and uphold the highest standards of patient care. Allegations of misconduct, including discrimination, can lead to serious disciplinary actions by the Texas Medical Board (TMB), potentially resulting in severe sanctions against a physician’s license. Understanding the grounds for disciplinary action outlined in 22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.8(2) and the potential sanctions detailed in 22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.14(9) is crucial for physicians facing complaints or allegations. 

Moreover, recognizing the aggravating and mitigating factors identified in 22 Tex. Admin. Code Sec. 190.15 can help physicians navigate disciplinary proceedings more effectively. In such challenging situations, seeking guidance and representation from an experienced medical license defense attorney is paramount. At every stage of the process, from complaint evaluation to disciplinary action, skilled legal counsel can provide invaluable support, strategizing to protect a physician’s license and professional reputation. By partnering with a trusted advocate, physicians can work towards a fair resolution and continue to serve their patients with integrity and dedication.

We Can Help Protect Your Medical License

Contact our law firm immediately if you face allegations of misconduct related to your medical license. Our medical license defense lawyers help professionals like you safeguard their licenses when the TMB attacks them. We are here to help you fight back to protect your medical license and preserve your career. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, or contact us online

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