The loss of one’s medical license can be a complex process. Doctors spend years, sometimes a decade or more, attending school and residency and seeking additional education to earn and maintain their medical license.
Before a doctor or other medical professional loses their license, a series of steps must take place before the final decision. Doctors may also want to know the options once their medical license has been revoked.
Who Enforces the Regulation of Medical Licenses in the State of Texas?
By now, a doctor will know that the Texas Medical Board (TMB) regulates and oversees the licensure of doctors in Texas. The TMB receives approximately 7,000 complaints from patients, family members of patients, various medical professionals, and other sources every year.
TMB officials have the resources and the statutory mandate to investigate and enforce a violation of state law regarding the medical profession. Thus, it is vital to acknowledge and take complaints against one’s medical practice seriously.
How the Board Determines Whether to Discipline a Physician
Disciplinary proceedings involve several stages to reach a point where the Board must consider levying discipline against a physician. These stages include:
- An initial evaluation of the allegations rendered against the physician
- An investigation of the physician’s actions
- An assessment of the physician’s health (used in cases involving the mental and physical impairment of a physician)
- A review of the physician’s actions conducted by a quality assurance panel
- An informal resolution mutually agreed upon by the involved parties or a formal resolution rendered by the Board
- Additional compliance procedures administered by the Board, depending on the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings
Steps the TMB Takes After a Medical License Is Suspended or Revoked
The TMB will typically report the disciplinary ruling to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and administer the disciplinary action.
How Reporting a Discipline to the NPDB Works
Once the TMB has revoked a medical license or levied other forms of discipline, it is required to report the action to the NPDB. Established by Congress in 1986, the NPDB is designed to act as a national repository of electronic information regarding medical professionals and practitioners across the U.S.
Once the revocation of a medical license has been reported to the NPDB, practitioners are effectively barred from traveling out of state to acquire a license in another jurisdiction. In addition, TMB officials will report suspension, revocation, public reprimand, and other forms of discipline to the NPDB.
How the Board Administers Disciplinary Actions
When a disciplinary action has been determined, the TMB will typically disclose the decision to the public, including releasing the names of the parties involved and the type of order approved by the Board. In addition, the Board will post a news release of their decision on their website. Remedial actions that constitute a form of discipline, but do not result in revocation or suspension of a medical license, will be made posted on the physician’s public profile on the Board’s website but will not be reported in a news release.
Physicians must comply with the disciplinary decisions rendered by the Board. Failure to abide by those decisions may result in harsher civil and administrative penalties and open the physician up to further liability.
You Can Petition to Have Your License Reinstated
The Board has promulgated rules for physicians that have had their licenses revoked or suspended to petition for reinstatement. However, both disciplinary actions have separate procedures, as discussed below:
When the Texas Medical Board suspends a license, the physician may submit a written request to the TMB’s compliance division to appear before a “probationer show compliance” proceeding under 22 TAC §167.1(a)(1). At the proceeding, the petitioning physician must provide evidence that they have complied with the parameters of their suspension.
Physicians may only apply for reinstatement after one year from the commencement of their suspension and can apply for reinstatement once per year. Of course, the Board may provide alternative procedures for applications on a case-by-case basis.
Understandably, the process to reinstate a revoked medical license is more complex than addressing a suspended license. Not only must a physician wait one year before applying for reinstatement of their license, but they must also fill out a detailed application and pay a fee for reinstatement of their license as mandated under 22 TAC §167.1(b)(1).
A physician seeking to reinstate a revoked medical license must also demonstrate current licensure eligibility requirements and appear before a TMB committee to seek a determination as to whether their license can be reinstated. Physicians with revoked licenses may only apply for reinstatement once a year.
Other Forms of Discipline the Board Can Administer Outside of a License Suspension or Revocation
If a violation exists, the Board may offer an agreed-upon order establishing sanctions and terms of the discipline. Depending on the nature of the violation, some forms of discipline can be remedial, while others offer harsh penalties. Other forms of discipline can include:
- Restrictions on certain activities
- Additional training or medical education
- Assignment of a chart or practice monitor
- Compliance appearances before the Board
- Abstention from drugs and alcohol, including drug testing
- Participation in an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other addiction treatment programs
- Prohibition on treating certain patients
- Administrative penalties in the form of fines
- Issuance of a public reprimand
Should I Contact an Attorney About My Case?
Matters involving the suspension and revocation of a medical license can be complicated and usually require experienced attorneys to aid in the process. Therefore, a physician should consider contacting legal counsel during the initial stages of an evaluation or investigation regarding a complaint to begin addressing misconduct allegations and seeking reinstatement of their license.
Reach Out to the Bertolino Law Firm for Help Today
Physicians should not risk their medical licenses and their careers by representing themselves during an investigation and disciplinary proceeding—the risk is just too significant. At Bertolino LLP, our experienced medical license defense attorneys understand the administrative licensure processes in Texas. Contact our office today for a consultation regarding your medical license today.