When a medical professional decides to fight a formal complaint against their license—which they should do every time—it can sometimes mean that the complaint process will move beyond the Texas Medical Board's internal procedure. When this happens, the case often goes to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
Of course, it must be said that the vast majority of cases that actually end with disciplinary action taken by the Texas Medical Board are resolved informally, such that the cases do not move to SOAH. Of the more than 8000 complaints that the Board receives each year from patients, families of patients, health care colleagues, and others—and the couple of thousand or so formal investigations that it opens each year—often fewer than 100 proceed to be seen by an Administrative Law Judge.
How The Procedure Works
The procedure is as follows: When the Board receives a complaint, it examines it to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the allegations in it. If it decides it does, it launches a formal investigation and sends the physician a notice letter. This is often the first notice a physician will get that a complaint has been filed, and a physician should contact an experienced professional license attorney immediately so that we can help to craft an effective response, as this is the first step in a winning defense strategy. If the response letter does not result in dismissal of the case, then the proceedings move on to an informal settlement conference. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on the discipline to be applied, then the physician may appeal to SOAH. At SOAH, the Administrative Law Judge gives an opinion on the case and makes a recommendation to the Board, which often listens to the advice of the judge—but which is not under any obligation to follow those recommendations precisely!
A physician under fire should contact BERTOLINO LLP as soon as possible after receiving notice of a complaint. The more time we have to create a strong professional license defense, the better the case is likely to go.
We proudly represent licensed medical professionals across the entire State of Texas. If you are facing disciplinary action for any reason, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 to schedule a case evaluation. To best serve our clients, we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.