Texas physicians are subject to regulation by the Texas Medical Board. The TMB oversees the licensure and the maintenance of licensure of Texas physicians, putatively on behalf of the public. This means the TMB is charged with setting and enforcing standards, as well as holding doctors to laws passed by the state and federal legislatures. Among the means the Board utilizes for this oversight is the accepting, processing, and investigating of complaints made against physicians and disciplining those physicians it determines deserving of such as a result.
When the TMB receives a complaint, the first thing it does in order to process the complaint is to make a preliminary evaluation—within 45 days of receiving it—during which it is decided whether the Board has jurisdiction over the complaint at all. If so, then the Board will begin its review into whether the physician has violated the Texas Medical Act. As part of this, the Board often contacts both the physician in question and the complainant. If this initial review shows that the physician may have violated the Act, then an investigation is launched. At this point, physicians are informed of the allegations against them and asked to provide more information. This information is provided through a response letter.
This is the stage at which we strongly urge a physician to contact an experienced professional license defense attorney so that everything that follows can be managed as carefully as possible.
Once the investigation is complete, if the Board believes its investigation has found a reason to discipline the physician (which may not even be related to the initial complaint!), the case is forwarded to the disciplinary division.
At this point, the physician is reminded that they have the choice to voluntarily forfeit their license to practice to prevent the proceedings from going any further.
The problem is: if a physician forfeits their license, it is a permanent decision. Court cases in which physicians have argued they made the decision under duress have resulted in no redress for them.
The better option is to contact a professional license defense attorney. This needs to happen as early as possible in the proceedings because the sooner an attorney is brought in, the more time they will have to craft a compelling response to the complaint, designed to contain the scope of the investigation. But even if the physician has arrived on the cusp of the disciplinary proceedings, they should still make that call.
We here at BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced medical license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate the complaint process. We are skilled at assisting physicians in doing everything that can be done to ensure the most favorable possible outcome in their cases.
With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we serve clients all over the state. Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.