The Texas Medical Board considers complaints against its licensees. After receiving a complaint, the Board will conduct its preliminary review. It has 45 days in which to do so. In some cases, this review includes contacting the licensee who is under review in order to give them a chance to respond to the allegations in the complaint. This official form of contact is referred to as the “initial complaint letter,” and generally includes a description of the complaint in general terms, along with a number of questions regarding the allegations.
The response a professional makes to this initial complaint letter may be key in setting the direction of the eventual outcome of the complaint process. The Board staff conducting the review will use the information provided in the response as a basis for determining whether there is indeed probable cause to pursue the complaint with further investigation and whether the Board possesses the requisite jurisdiction over the subject matter to investigate the complaint at all. The response—and any information it includes—are incorporated into the investigative file. Where probable cause is not found, or where the Board determines it does not have the jurisdiction to pursue the allegations, the complaint is generally dropped.
Given that this phase of the complaint process is the first instance in which a complaint can be dismissed, it is imperative that a medical professional under investigation contact an experienced professional license defense attorney—one who is intimately familiar with the administrative process and the types of information that can help or hinder a medical professional’s case. Knowing what sorts of information to provide—and which to hold back due to its being unnecessary and potentially damaging in a collateral manner—is in large part a matter of precisely this sort of familiarity. This can result in dismissal at this stage.
Even if dismissal does not occur at this point, the sort of information included in the response can have a deep influence on the proceedings as the case moves forward. It may result in shaping the scope of issues that come under investigation as the case proceeds to the formal investigation stage.
We highly recommend a licensee under review due to a complaint not attempt to answer the initial complaint letter on their own.
BERTOLINO LLP proudly represents licensed medical professionals across the entire State of Texas, and whether brought in when a licensee receives the initial complaint letter (which we recommend) or at a later stage, we have a solid track record of success. To best serve our clients we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board or state agency, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.