A disciplinary panel for the Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended the license an orthopedic surgeon last month after a series of sexual assault allegations made by several patients.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the board made a determination that the continuation of the physician's practice of medicine posed a "continuing threat to public welfare." The suspension was issued without notice and went into effect immediately. This action was taken after the physician's arrest on two counts of felony sexual assault against two separate patients.
Both women said they were in the office for routine procedures and instead were sexually assaulted by the doctor. Soon after his arrest, three other women came forward to accused the doctor of sexual assault, and authorities filed four additional criminal charges against him. The physician's family released a statement saying he vehemently denies the charges.
In cases like this, obviously the more serious issue for the accused are the criminal charges. A conviction on these allegations could result in a years-long prison term, not to mention the likely loss of one's professional license. That focus means your first phone call is likely going to be to a criminal defense attorney.
However, it's prudent still in such a situation to consult with an experienced medical license defense attorney. In Texas, the practice of medicine is regulated by the Texas Medical Board, which is imbued with its authority under the Texas Medical Practice Act to issue medical licenses, as well as mete out disciplinary action and even permanently revoke one's license.
It's important in these cases that you defend your medical license and all your hard work without offending the state medical board.
Typically the procedure in these cases will start with an initial complaint to the board. These can range from, as this case showed, criminal actions, to simply professional misconduct or assertions of unethical behavior or inappropriate relationships.
Doctors and surgeons in particular are expected to adhere to stringent professional standards in Texas. Any breach can have severe consequences. Allegations like these - even unproven ones - have the potential to shatter a life's work. It's important to ensure you are adequately represented before the Texas Medical Board at every phase in the process.
After a complaint is filed, the board will launch an investigation which is then referred to the board's legal division for an informal settlement conference. There will be a negotiated agreed order, followed by a formal complaint by the medical board's attorney to the State Office of Administrative Hearings and the conference. There is mediation, and if there is an unfavorable outcome, the physician can appeal or ask for another hearing. However, if that motion is denied, the physician will attend a suspension hearing.
That's the typical process, but as this case shows, there are some situations wherein the board will take swift action and suspend one's medical license even without these various steps.
Again, while the criminal case may be your primary concern in a situation like this, the medical board case may be happening concurrently, so it's important to seek legal advise to protect your career, your livelihood and your future.