Different licensing boards and agencies in Texas handle disciplinary complaints using varying procedures. Depending on the nature of the disciplinary complaint, your licensing board may have specialized divisions to provide you with support and assistance for issues related to your disciplinary case. An experienced license defense lawyer can represent your interests throughout any disciplinary proceedings and advise you on whether and to what extent to participate in available programs. The following is a summary of some of the state programs that operate to assist professionals in Texas.
Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses
The Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN) helps protect patients by providing early identification, support, monitoring, accountability, and advocacy to Texas nurses with identified substance abuse problems, mental health problems, or related incidents. Anyone can refer a nurse to TPAPN, including yourself, but it is a purely voluntary program.
If a nurse experiences a substance use or mental health event or episode, a nurse may connect with TPAPN after someone refers them to the program or they are ordered to contact the program. TPAPN will evaluate the nurse’s needs, including drug testing and completing a substance abuse or mental health assessment. This comprehensive assessment consists of the following components:
- Treatment recommendations
- Recovery support recommendations
- Fitness to practice recommendations
- Practice monitoring needs
Following the assessment, individualized participation requirements may include treatment, drug testing, refraining from practice, recovery support, and practice monitoring, such as with supervision or under certain restrictions. In addition, participants receive peer support from a volunteer nurse advocate and continued communication with TPAPN. If a nurse fails to complete all requirements, TPAPN may refer the nurse to the Texas Board of Nursing for further investigation into the matter.
Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP)
The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) helps law students, lawyers, judges, and legal employers with a variety of issues, including:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Depression and Bipolar Disorder
- Suicide Prevention
- Substance Use
- Cognitive Decline
TLAP helps these individuals find mechanisms and resources to assist them with these issues. In addition, they maintain a database of professionals and support groups who have experience dealing with the challenges that lawyers face.
TLAP provides confidential assistance and does not share information with non-TLAP third parties, including the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Board of Law Examiners, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, or any other disciplinary agency or entity. The only rare exceptions involve disclosures necessary to prevent death or serious harm to a person or where required by law for child or elder abuse.
Texas Physician Health Program
The Texas Physician Health Program (TXPHP) provides confidential intervention, evaluation, referrals for treatment, and monitoring for health professionals under the Texas Medical Board (TMB) jurisdiction due to health conditions that can or do impair them. Impairments may include:
- Substance abuse disorders
- Mental health conditions
- Disruptive behaviors
- Physical and cognitive impairments
The overall goal of the TXPHP is to enhance public safety by promoting health and providing a therapeutic alternative to disciplinary proceedings. In addition, the TXPHP provides case management, monitoring, and documentation, which allows the license holder to obtain verification of complaint for the TMB or other regulatory agencies or employers as needed.
TXPHP accepts referrals from license holders themselves and the Texas Medical Board. However, they also accept referrals from third parties, such as hospitals, employers, staff, family, colleagues, and friends. For instance, if there is no continuing threat to the public welfare, healthcare employers can make referrals to TXPHP instead of a report to the TMB. Making a TXPHP referral rather than a TMB report is appropriate if it relates to a healthcare professional’s possible impairment connected to a health condition, physical or mental, that might affect the ability to practice with reasonable safety to patients.
Likewise, the TMB may refer a healthcare professional to TXPHP during the investigative process of a disciplinary complaint. Generally, this type of referral is appropriate only if the complaint deals solely with physical or mental impairment issues.
Accountants Confidential Assistance Network
The Accountants Confidential Assistance Network (ACAN) is a confidential peer assistance program for certified public accountants (CPAs), CPA candidates, and accounting students. ACAN is designed to assist these individuals with stress, depression, other mental health disorders, and alcohol or substance abuse problems. CPA volunteers assist their peers in dealing with these issues and refer them to professional resources to help them find a solution. ACAN also will participate in interventions with these individuals at the request of a firm or family member.
Protect Your Professional License by Seeking Legal Assistance Today
Receiving notification of a complaint against your professional license can be disruptive and unsettling. No matter the circumstances, you may need to take certain actions to put yourself in the best position possible to defend yourself from the allegations against you. Disciplinary cases can result in a permanent mark on your records that negatively affect your career and future. As a result, you should not hesitate to get the legal assistance you need in this situation. Contact a Texas license defense attorney immediately when you receive notice of a complaint against your license.