Each complaint received by the Texas Medical Board goes through an investigation process. Sometimes this process is blessedly brief—as when the Board examines a complaint and determines that it does not rise to the level of being an infraction worthy of pursuit. But when the Board decides a complaint merits further investigation—particularly when there has been a potential violation of the Medical Practices Act or the standard of care—things get real. In the latter case, the complaint will be sent on to the Board’s Litigation Section.
When the Litigation Section receives the case, they will schedule an “Informal Settlement Conference” (sometimes referred to as an ISC). An astounding 90 percent of every disciplinary actions made by the Texas Medical Board are conducted via this so-called “informal” process. At an ISC hearing, the licensee is given a chance to show that they have complied with the Texas Medical Practices Act.
The Medical Practices Act requires that an agent of the Board summarizes in the informal hearing the allegations against the physician and the facts that the Board believes could be proven at a formal hearing. Once the hearing is complete, the panel performs its deliberations without the presence of any of the investigators or the Board members who have presented the case summary.
Here’s the thing: despite being called “informal,” this hearing has a great deal of consequence for the affected physician, and it proceeds in a formal fashion. As mentioned above, many cases are dispensed with in just this hearing. The good news is that physicians are permitted during each stage of the complaint process to defend themselves with the aid of an attorney—and this includes at ISC hearings. It’s spelled out in section 164.0032(d) of the Texas Occupations Code: “The panel and board employees shall provide an opportunity for the affected physician and the physician's authorized representative to reply to the board employees' presentation and to present oral and written statements and facts that the physician and representative reasonably believe could be proven by competent evidence at a formal hearing. “
If you have received notice of a complaint, you should contact a qualified and experienced professional license defense attorney like us here at BERTOLINO LLP. The more time we have to craft a response, the better. And the earlier in the process we are involved, the more likely you are to achieve a positive outcome—including possible dismissal of the complaint at the informal settlement conference. But we can’t help if you don’t contact us.
The attorneys at BERTOLINO LLP are prepared to represent you at every stage of the complaint process. With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we represent funerary professionals across the entire State of Texas. Our honest, experienced attorneys will fight aggressively on behalf of your license and reputation.
Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a free case evaluation.