The Texas Medical Board conducts investigations when complaints are made against physicians, as well as when complaints are levied against physician's assistants and surgical assistants. Licensed acupuncturists may also be investigated by the Board. The Board has an online complaint form, a mail-in complaint form, and a telephone number to submit complaints. The Board indicates all complaints are evaluated to determine if they fall within the Board's jurisdiction and if further follow-up action should be taken.
In some cases, the Texas Medical Board may act upon a claim that has no merit, or even a claim made by a patient or someone with a vendetta against a doctor who has made false accusations. Complaints, investigation, and the publication of information about complaints can have a profound negative impact on the career of a medical care provider, even if those complaints are ultimately found to be unfounded.
In one case, a doctor sustained significant damage from a complaint with no basis and he was awarded a substantial settlement for his losses. In every situation, those who are accused of wrongdoing should reach out to a legal professional with experience in medical license defense so they can try to avoid an undesirable outcome when the medical board takes action.
False Accusations Against Doctors Can Cause Significant Harm
Daily Mail reported one incident in which a doctor faced scrutiny from his state medical board as a result of anonymous complaints made by his ex-wife. The doctor was a dermatologist and his ex wife claimed he engaged in drug use and inappropriate sexual behavior at the office.
The medical board took action to investigate based on the anonymous and outlandish accusations of his wife. The doctor indicated the case "decimated his practice and personal life." The investigation into the complaints went on for two years, leading to pharmaceutical and research companies withdrawing their professional affiliation with the physician. The Board made the accusations public, which caused friends and colleagues to distance themselves from the accused doctor, and led patients to no longer seek services from his practice.
While the complaints were ultimately discovered to be unfounded and the information provided by the ex-wife was found to be fraudulent, damage to the doctor's reputation was difficult to undo and his losses were great by the time the case came to an end. He ultimately filed a lawsuit against state health officials and received both a $600,000 settlement and a public apology. The public apology was the first of the kind in the state and the payment to the doctor was among the largest settlement in state history.
While cases like this one are unusual, medical boards do overreach and unfounded complaints do happen all the time and cause damage to a medical reputation and a doctor's practice. Providers need to be aggressive in defending against all accusations so they can protect their reputations.