They’ve been compared to a “black cloud” over a medical practice. They’ve been called “detrimental,” even when they resulted in findings of no harm done. They are the scourge of a Texas Medical Board investigation—which, when prosecuted by an overzealous board, can have extremely ill effects upon the careers of those they target. In fact, while most medical professionals fear medical malpractice suits (and this is the type of action the popular culture is more aware of), board complaints have the potential to do more lasting harm to a physician’s career.
Complaints to the Texas Medical Board are—perhaps unsurprisingly, given the high-stakes, high-emotion nature of medical care—quite common. The Board receives more than 7,000 complaints in a normal year. These come not just from patients, but also from family members of patients and other health care practitioners, among other sources. If the Board determines that a complaint is jurisdictional (and, given the breadth of the Board’s jurisdiction, it does so more often than not) it will pursue an investigation.
This investigation phase is its own form of an ordeal. The allegations made in the complaint may be kept indistinct, leaving a physician wondering what is being levied against them. The threat of a full hearing hangs over their heads, which can lead them to plead guilty (or even to volunteer to give up their own license unnecessarily) in order to relieve the stress they are going through.
Either of these options leave the physician with problems. Either they find their right to practice restricted, or they are now no longer able to practice their chosen profession, toward which they have toiled greatly.
When physicians choose to fight back against the allegations made against them, investigations can become combative. As the investigators dig into the professional life of a physician, the scope of the investigation may grow, until allegations are made that have nothing at all to do with the initial complaint. And any adverse decision the board takes can cause the loss of privileges at hospitals, being dropped by health insurers, and being listed on the National Practitioner Data Bank, which can lead to diminished business for the remainder of the physician’s working life.
Therefore, a physician under fire should contact an experienced professional license defense attorney, like us here at BERTOLINO LLP, as soon as possible after receiving notice of a complaint. 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 a possible dismissal of the complaint. 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 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 case evaluation.