Every year, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) receives over 7,000 complaints against medical professionals it licenses. If you have received a notice of complaint, your medical license, reputation, and career are at risk.
TMB is required by law to follow a specific enforcement process when addressing complaints, which affords all licensees due process and the opportunity to defend themselves against accusations. A complaint may be initiated by any person, entity, or TMB itself. At a minimum the complaint should include the name and contact information of the complainant, the name of the licensee, when and where the alleged violation of the Medical Practice Act occurred, and if applicable, the name and birth date of the patient who the licensee allegedly harmed. 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.4.
Nevertheless, the identity of the complainant and the complaint itself is “part of the investigative information gathered by board employees and shall remain confidential.” 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.4(c). Confidentially can be waived only by a written statement by the complainant or by him or her testifying in a contested case hearing. The confidentiality mandate can make it difficult for Texas physicians being accused of wrongdoing to defend themselves. This is one reason why it is critical to consult with an experienced medical license defense attorney as soon as possible after receiving a notice of complaint from the TMB.
The TMB’s Preliminary Investigation of a Complaint
Once a complaint is received, TMB is required to conduct a preliminary investigation within 45 days. 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.5(a). As part of the preliminary investigation, “the following minimum additional evidence will be gathered:
- The history of the subject licensee collected and maintained by the board; and
- The history of the subject licensee maintained by the National Practitioner Data Bank.”
22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.5(b).
During this time, TMB staff may contact the complainant but may not yet notify the licensee. The licensee may be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations, within a prescribed time period, during the preliminary investigation. 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.5(d).
If the complaint alleges a violation of the standard of care, then TMB staff conducting the preliminary investigation must be a licensed health care provider in Texas. 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.5(a).
After the preliminary investigation is complete, TMB staff will “determine whether a complaint is jurisdictional and whether there is probable cause to justify further investigation.” 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 178.5(e). Jurisdictional complaints with probable cause will be filed with the TMB and “an official investigation shall be conducted.” 22 Tex. Admin. § 178.6(a). At this point the licensee Respondent must be notified of the complaint and investigation. 22 Tex. Admin. § 178.6(c).
We highly recommend that you hire an experienced medical board defense attorney immediately if the TMB has asked you to respond to complaint allegations during a preliminary investigation or has notified you of an official investigation. Your initial responses to the allegations are crucial to the ultimate outcome of your case.
Hire an Experienced Medical License Defense Attorney
If a complaint has been filed against your Texas medical license, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced medical license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate the TMB’s complaint process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing, proceeding, or investigation regarding your professional license, including:
- Temporary Suspension Hearings
- Informal Settlement Conferences (ISC)
- Show Compliance Proceedings
- State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) Proceedings
Our firm believes that immediately consulting an experienced medical license defense attorney to review allegations of misconduct helps ensure the most favorable outcome in your case. Our results speak for themselves.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 476-5757 and schedule a case evaluation.