A complaint can have extreme consequences. It can threaten your livelihood and your career. Patients can, and do, file complaints against all medical professionals to the Texas Medical Board.
If you are facing a complaint to the Medical Board, the best thing for you to do is retain legal counsel. Bertolino LLP provides aggressive legal defense for medical professionals who are facing disciplinary action by the Medical Board. If you need help with your professional license, contact a physician license defense attorney from Bertolino LLP, today.
What Might Patients Complain About?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the three most common things that patients file complaints about are (1) receiving the wrong prescription medication, (2) negligent surgeries, and (3) receiving inadequate medical care. While you, as a Physican Assistant (PA), are likely safe from a complaint about a patient having the wrong surgery performed on them, you can still be liable for a patient receiving the wrong medication (especially if you are the one prescribing or administering it) or general inadequacy of medical care. Sometimes patients, who are not medical experts themselves, will misinterpret routine procedures for a breach of the standard of care.
What Happens If I Receive a Complaint Notice from the Texas Medical Board?
A complaint notice is a letter from the Texas Medical Board. This is the first time they inform you that you are under investigation. This letter typically means they are considering the merits of a complaint against you. The letter may contain some vague statement alleging that you have violated the Texas Medical Practice Act.
The letter will also request that you answer some questions regarding the allegations within a certain amount of time. You are required to answer these questions completely and truthfully. Failing to answer the questions, or otherwise participate in the investigation, can be grounds for further disciplinary action.
How Should I Answer the Questions in the TMB Complaint Notice?
Before you answer any questions, you should contact an attorney. While it might be very tempting to just tell them what happened, this is a mistake. If you are not trained in the legal process, it can be easy to make accidental admissions that could hurt your case and your career.
A professional medical license defense attorney will know how to frame your story in the best possible light to ensure that you don’t make any accidental admissions. Too often, medical professionals will come clean about too much, and the Medical Board will take that as an admission to more violations they were not even considering.
It is important that you consult an attorney before communicating with the Texas Medical Board. You will only benefit from allowing an experienced and professional attorney to help you respond to questions.
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Do I Really Need an Attorney to Defend Me?
You are not required to have a lawyer defend you, but you should. Understanding the procedures and navigating complicated administrative proceedings can be very difficult. Disciplinary proceedings can result in extreme consequences, such as suspension from the practice of medicine, or complete revocation of your license. You need someone who is experienced and very skilled to fight for your best interests. Do not try to go it alone. Find someone who’s got your best interest in mind.
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What Happens If the Texas Medical Board Files Formal Charges Against Me?
If the Texas Medical Board decides to proceed after their investigation, your case will be transferred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The SOAH is an administrative court, which means that while you will not be in a courtroom with a jury, you will be in a formal proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge.
While there are definite similarities between the SOAH and the Texas District Courts, the processes are different enough that even some attorneys are not prepared for this type of hearing. This is why some attorneys specialize in defending professionals before the SOAH.
Going before the SOAH can be an intimidating process, especially when your career is at stake. You worked too hard in school. and the remainder of your career to not get yourself the best legal representation possible. Contact a skilled and driven professional license defense attorney to assist you in defending your case.
What Is the Process for Fighting a Texas Medical Board Complaint?
The administrative hearing process is fairly standard. First, the Texas Medical Board receives the information for the first time. This typically happens by a complaint being filed against you. The Board will then choose whether or not to investigate.
The TMB will send you a letter laying out the basis for their investigation and asking you to respond with a written statement and/or provide certain documents. The Medical Board will choose whether to issue formal charges against you. If they decide to file these charges, that means that they are sufficiently convinced that you have violated some rule.
Trial and Settlement Negotiations
Next, like in a regular court case, the Medical Board will sit down with you and your attorney to attempt to settle the matter. For minor violations, sometimes this can be the best option for you, and the penalty might be small. However, the TMB might offer bad settlement deals for larger allegations.
You must go before the Administrative Law Judge if you do not settle the case. This is an adversarial proceeding, where your attorney will present evidence and attempt to discredit the TMB’s evidence. The Board is like a prosecutor who must prove their case to the Administrative Law Judge.
If the Administrative Law Judge decides that you have violated the rules, they will write up a proposal for a decision. The Texas Medical Board will review this decision because the Board is ultimately responsible for determining your sanction.
If the Administrative Law Judge gives you an unfavorable decision, you are permitted to appeal the decision. These appeals will go through the Texas court system, starting with the District Court, and theoretically as high as the Texas Supreme Court.
Contact a Professional License Defense Attorney
When a patient has filed a complaint against you, and you are facing disciplinary action by the Texas Medical Board, you need a skilled professional license defense attorney that you can trust. You have worked far too hard to allow the Board to take away your license, don’t try to fight them alone.
When your career is at risk, don’t trust just anyone to advocate for you. Contact Bertolino LLP for great legal defense.