Licensed chiropractors provide a valuable service to patients throughout Texas. If you are a chiropractor, you have undergone extensive education and training to be able to treat patients. However, along with professional training comes the potential for complaints that may lead to disciplinary action against your license. If you receive notice of a complaint against you, taking steps to defend yourself with the help of a chiropractor license defense lawyer is the best practice.
The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners
The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) licenses and regulates chiropractors in Texas. The governor appoints this nine-member board to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Texas by enforcing the standards of chiropractic care.
The Complaint Process
The TBCE receives all complaints about chiropractors. Complainants must file their complaints within six years of the event that led to the basis for the complaints. When the TBCE receives a complaint, it acknowledges receipt of the complaint and reviews the allegations in the complaint. If the complaint contains enough evidence to warrant an investigation, the TBCE will contact the chiropractor and request a response. Otherwise, the TBCE will close the complaint for insufficient evidence and advise the complainant of its closure.
After receiving a response from the chiropractor, the Director of Compliance & Investigations will investigate the complaint and make a recommendation to the Enforcement Committee. In turn, the Enforcement Committee will determine whether a violation of a law or rule has occurred and make a recommendation to the full TBCE. Violations can result in disciplinary action. The TBCE resolves most complaints within three to six months.
If TBCE decides to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a chiropractor, the Enforcement Committee starts by notifying both parties. At that point, the Committee may schedule informal conferences or propose Agreed Orders to resolve the matter. If TBCE and the chiropractor cannot reach an agreed-upon resolution informally, or if the chiropractor does not respond to the notice of disciplinary proceedings, TBCE can refer the case for a formal administrative hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). SOAH will assign an administrative law judge (ALJ) to the case. The ALJ will issue a decision in the case following an administrative hearing and notify the parties of the decision.
Grounds for Disciplinary Action
22 Tex. Admin. Code § 79 et seq. sets forth some specific grounds for disciplinary action against chiropractors. § 79.1 addresses consensual sexual relationships between doctors and patients, inappropriate sexual touching, discussing sexual history and preferences, offensive sexual statements, and related matters.
§ 79.2 provides a basis for disciplinary action against chiropractors based on a lack of diligence. This ground includes the following actions:
- performing or attempting to perform procedures for which the licensee is untrained,
- delegating responsibilities to an untrained individual,
- physically harming or allowing physical harm to an individual,
- abandoning a patient without reasonable cause and adequate notice, and
- exposing an individual to unsafe or unsanitary conditions
§ 79.3 covers financial misconduct. This violation occurs when a chiropractor commits fraud in billing charges or services. It also involves billing for goods or services that are excessive and submitting claims for goods or services that are not sold or rendered.
Chiropractors also are subject to various other laws and rules concerning advertising, delegating responsibilities, the scope of practice, patient recordkeeping, business practices, and continuing education requirements.
Grounds for Revocation or Suspension of Licenses
Tex. Occ. Code § 201.052 outlines various grounds for revoking or suspending a chiropractor’s license. Some of these grounds include:
- Engaging in deception or fraud in the chiropractic practice
- Conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude
- Engaging in grossly unprofessional conduct or dishonorable conduct of a character likely to deceive or defraud the public
- Having a habit of intemperance or drug addiction or another habit that, in the opinion of the board, endangers the life of a patient
- Personally soliciting a patient
- Advertising using the term “physician”
- Failing to submit fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety to undergo a criminal background check as required
The potential sanctions that a chiropractor can receive under 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 80.3(c) include the following:
- Revocation of license
- Suspension of license
- Suspension with probation
- Written formal reprimand
- Administrative penalty
- Repeat taking of the jurisprudence exam
- Additional continuing education
Furthermore, the TBCE may require a chiropractor to satisfy additional conditions, such as completing specific types of continuing education, passing certain examinations, restricting the type of treatment, treatment procedures, or class of patients to be treated, restricting the supervision of others, and undergoing a psychological or medical evaluation and following any recommended treatment.
Get Help Defending Your Chiropractor’s License Today
A disciplinary complaint can have significant adverse effects on your career that often will become a
permanent part of your licensing record. Disciplinary action against you may even result in the loss of
license. However, you may avoid these damaging consequences with the right type of defense from
the outset of your case. Contact the experienced chiropractor 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.