After the Texas Medical Board (TMB) receives a complaint, the formal enforcement process begins. The TMB will first determine that it has jurisdiction, in that the complaint is against someone the TMB licenses. If jurisdiction is determined, the Board begins the process of determining whether there is evidence to support an allegation that there has been a violation of the Medical Practices Act.
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) reviews every complaint it receives, and it receives over 7,000 complaints every year. The following is an overview of the stages of the TMB's enforcement process:
- Preliminary Evaluation
- Quality Assurance Panel
- Informal Resolution
- Formal Resolution at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH)
During the initial review of the allegations, the TMB may contact the licensee or the complainant. However, the TMB will not necessarily contact you during the preliminary evaluation stage. The complaint must be reviewed within 45-days of receipt.
In instances where the information provided in the complaint does not demonstrate a violation of the Medical Practices Act, the case is then classified as "Jurisdictional, not Filed" and no investigation is opened.
If the TBM determines that a violation of the Medical Practices Act might have occurred, then the case is classified as "Jurisdictional, Filed" and the formal investigation process begins. At this stage the licensee (called the "respondent") will be notified of the complaint and will be asked to provide additional information. At this stage of the complaint, we highly recommend that you hire an experienced medical board defense attorney. Your initial responses to the allegations are critical to the ultimate outcome of the case.
If Standard of Care/Treatment Violations Are at Issue
If the investigation involves potential violations of the standard of care, then the allegations and evidence will be reviewed by at least two members of the TMB Expert Panel who are board-certified in the same or similar medical specialty as the licensee.
- If the Expert Panel finds the stand of care was not met, then the complaint is forwarded to the Litigation Section for further action.
- If the Expert Panel determines the standard of care was met, the complaint is recommended for dismissal.
After the investigation, the case against you may be:
- Referred for dismissal to the Board's disciplinary process review committee (DPRC), or
- Referred for further evaluation by a Quality Assurance (QA) Panel, or
- The Board offers a Remedial Plan to the licensee, which is considered a non-disciplinary corrective action.
Quality Assurance Panel
The QA Panel, consisting of up to five board representatives, reviews cases forwarded by the Investigations Department. At the conclusion of its review, the QA Panel:
- May request that an additional investigation be conducted on a case, or
- Refer the case to the Litigation Department for a possible Informal Settlement Conference, or
- Refer the case to the Board's disciplinary process review committee for dismissal, or
- Offer the licensee a Remedial Plan, which the licensee has the option to accept or reject and request an Informal Settlement Conference.
Ninety-percent (90%) of all disciplinary actions by the TMB are resolved at this stage, through the informal resolution process.
Once your case is moved forward into the Litigation Department, it is assigned a TMB staff attorney and will be scheduled for an Informal Settlement Conference (ISC)/Show Compliance proceeding.
Informal Settlement Conference
The TMB states the purpose of the ISC hearing is "to provide an informal forum for the panel to review the information and for the licensee to show that he or she is in compliance with the Medical Practice Act."
At the ISC you have the opportunity to defend yourself and your license, and argue that you did not violate the Medical Practices Act. To put forth a solid defense most likely to lead to a favorable outcome in your case, we encourage you to hire a Texas license defense attorney.
- If the ISC Panel finds there was no violation of the Medical Practices Act, it will refer the case for dismissal to the Board's disciplinary process review committee (DPRC).
- Offer an Agreed Order, which would set out the sanctions and disciplinary action against the licensee.
- Offer a Remedial Plan, which is offered for certain types of minor violations and as noted is considered a non-disciplinary action.If the ISC Panel finds there was a violation of the Medical Practices Act, it may:
Formal Resolution at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH)
If a resolution cannot be reached through an Agreed Order or a Remedial Plan, the case then moves to final resolution at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
A SOAH hearing is conducted similarly to how a courtroom trial operates. The case is heard before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your defense, produce evidence, and question witnesses. After the SOAH Hearing, the ALJ will submit a Proposal for Decision to the TMB.
TMB Issues Final Order
At this stage, the TMB will then issue an order that either includes disciplinary action, or dismisses the case. Once the TMB enters its final Order, the licensee has the right to appeal the decision to a Travis County District Court.
TMB Compliance Officers monitor licensees who are placed under Board Order to ensure compliance with the terms of the Order. Violation of any terms of the Order may lead to further disciplinary action by the TMB.
Hire an Experienced Medical License Defense Attorney
Throughout the TMB's enforcement process you have several opportunities to defend your licenses. Further, all professional licensees have the right to be represented at every stage of a complaint. Hiring an attorney to help you mount a strong defense serves to protect your license, reputation, financial interests, and your career; it does not make you look guilty.
If you have been notified of a complaint filed against you with the Texas Medical Board, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced medical license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate the TMB's complaint process.
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. Our results speak for themselves.
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) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.