As a doctor you help people during their most vulnerable times. The important and sensitive nature of your work means that at some point a patient, or their family member, may become upset with you. Their agitation may escalate to filing a formal complaint against you with the Texas Medical Board (TMB).
The complaint may be baseless, or there may be extenuating circumstances. Whatever the reason is behind a complaint, it's a critical moment in your professional life and you need to take immediate action. A single complaint can tarnish you reputation and put your career in jeopardy.
Medical License Defense: Planning Ahead
You spent years earning your medical license. The most desirable course of action is to avoid facing a complaint against you with the TMB. You can be proactive about protecting your license and avoid potential issues that may otherwise have led to the filing of a formal complaint.
Maintain proper medical records. We understand this sounds obvious, but we share it because if you become subject of a complaint the adequacy of your medical records will be one of the first things that comes under scrutiny. The TMB Rules require licensed physicians to "maintain an adequate medical record for each patient that is complete, contemporaneous and legible." 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 165.1(a). Be familiar with what documentation is necessary and make sure your records are up-to-date.
Documents your diagnosis and discussions with the patient. As part of your record keeping practices, make sure you document your thought process on how you arrived at your diagnosis and document all that you discussed with the patient. Include warnings are risks you discussed, follow up orders, and patient instructions.
Listen to your patients. The truth is, exercising good communication practices with your patients is a good thing to do and it may help you avoid a potential complaint. Patients who feel heard and have their concerns addressed may be less likely file a complaint with the medical board.
If a patient approaches you or your office staff with a complaint, hear them out. Recognize that this person wants to be heard by you and taken seriously. Properly addressing the issue may help avoid a complaint filed against you.
Communicate with your patients. Follow up with your patients and be available to them. Return phone calls and emails in a reasonable time. If you take a while to respond, offer an apology when you do finally speak with your patient.
Establish and enforce good standards of conduct for your office staff. First, make sure your staff members are well-versed on the TMB Rules, regulatory requirements, and how to properly do their jobs. Second, ensure that your staff is trained on how to interact with patients in a friendly and helpful way. Having a staff that understands their obligations and relevant regulations helps to reduce the likelihood of a patient lodging a complaint against you with the TMB.
Taking precautionary measures may mean you are less likely to face a complaint lodged against your medical license with the TMB. However, no matter how careful or meticulous you are, someone may still file a complaint against you.
Medical License Defense
If the TMB notifies you of a complaint, we urge you to contact us without hesitation. Our firm believes that immediately consulting an experienced medical license defense attorney to review allegations of misconduct helps ensure the most favorable outcome in your case.
The attorneys of BERTOLINO LLP are experienced TMB License Defense Attorneys and we know how to navigate the TMB's enforcement process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your professional license.
Our law firm helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board.
If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 887-7305 and schedule a case evaluation.
Follow BERTOLINO LLP on Facebook!
View free videos & subscribe to our YouTube channel!
Get a copy of Tony R. Bertolino's #1 Bestselling book When Your License is Under Attack: A Survival Guide for Texas Professionals in hardcover or for Kindle here.