A San Antonio physician who finds himself or herself under investigation for misconduct or who has otherwise been targeted in disciplinary proceedings is confronted with possibly severe adverse consequences against his or her license to practice medicine in Texas. If that physician is licensed in any other states, it’s highly likely that action will be taken against that license too.
Common reasons for TMB investigations
In our experience, most physicians who are investigated by the TMB have been been suspected of wrongdoing for the following reasons:
- Failure to adhere to a standard of care for a patient or procedure
- Poor record keeping
- Drug and alcohol impairment
- Prescribing drugs for a purpose that is not therapeutic
- Conviction of a criminal offense
- Issues involving physical or mental disability
Some allegations against physicians are summarily dismissed, or the Texas Medical Board (TMB) might lack jurisdiction over a matter. If an investigation into alleged misconduct is initiated, the TMB forwards a letter of notification to the physician who is the subject of the investigation. That’s when it is prudent for the physician to contact our offices and arrange for a consultation and case evaluation. It’s likely that a TMB investigator will contact the physician by phone sometime after receipt of the letter advising of the investigation. If we’ve been retained, the physician need only advise the investigator accordingly. The fact that we’ve been retained doesn’t imply guilt. The law prohibits the investigator from speaking further with the physician unless we are present.
The TMB regulates you
The TMB is an administrative agency. Its purpose is to regulate the practice of medicine and protect the general public. Anything that a physician says to a TMB investigator might be used against him or her in the future. He or she can place their license to practice medicine in Texas in jeopardy. Questions will probably be asked by an investigator that wouldn’t be permitted in a court of law or administrative proceeding, and one might answer them with innocent intent. The answers can be misconstrued though. An experienced trial attorney with knowledge of Texas medical license defense won’t allow those questions to be asked or answered.
The settlement conference
Assuming that the notice letter is received and not ignored, an informal settlement conference at TMB offices is scheduled. The physician will receive a detailed statement of the TMB allegations, and an opportunity to respond to those allegations is given. The timeliness of submitting the response is critical, and since it will be reviewed before the settlement conference even begins, it must be clear, convincing and conclusive.
The TMB settlement conference decision
When the settlement conference has been concluded, the TMB members will deliberate and render a decision on whether a violation was made. If the decision is that there was no violation, a dismissal recommendation will be made to the full TMB who must ratify the recommendation. If there is a finding of a violation, an agreed order will be tendered. They physician will be required to comply with the terms of any agreed order that is entered, and those terms will be made public.
State Office of Administrative Hearings
If the parties are unable to reach an accord through an agreed order, the cases is transferred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) These cases are similar to a civil lawsuit, but there are no SOHA jury trials. Proceedings are heard in front of an administrative law judge, and the rules of evidence must be followed.
Our objective in the representation of any physician in a TMB hearing is to preserve their license to practice medicine. If an adverse finding is made, our secondary goal is to limit any license restrictions, conditions or sanctions.
If your practice is located in or around San Antonio, and you’ve received a letter from the TMB notifying you of an investigation, don’t try to represent yourself. Anything you say, or any records, reports or the like that you submit on your own behalf can be used against you. Contact us at 888-533-5675 for experienced, quality and effective legal representation in any matter that might affect your license to practice medicine. We’ll be pleased to listen carefully to you, and we’ll advise you of your options.