Texas Medical Board Lawyer
If you get a letter from the Texas Medical Board (TMB) about a patient complaint, do not ignore it and do not set it aside thinking you’ll handle it later. This is a critical matter that can threaten your license, your reputation, and your ability to practice medicine. You must respond in a timely manner, but that’s not all.
To really improve your chances of success in overcoming a TMB complaint, you should engage a law firm that knows how to handle this very specialized area of the law. You need a medical license defense attorney that immediately knows what to do. At Gardner Employment Law, we’ve got you covered.
How Do TMB Complaints Originate?
The TMB exists as a legal conduit for patients, family members of patients, or other healthcare professionals who file complaints against physicians. To the physician, the complaint often may seem petty, and maybe it truly is. But failing to respond to the complaint properly can land a physician in serious trouble and put practices and careers at risk. Please note that the complaint itself doesn’t necessarily threaten the physician’s license, but failing to respond expertly and appropriately most definitely can.
What is the Process?
When a complaint is filed, it’s the job of the TMB to determine whether the physician has violated a provision of the Texas Medical Practice Act. To do this, a series of steps may take place. The following is an outline of the process. This may be more information than you want or need, but there are some important points embedded here that can affect your future. The steps are:
- Preliminary Investigation. The TMB sends a letter to the physician with a summary of the patient’s complaint and other relevant facts. This is the most critical moment for the physician. A well-crafted response has the chance to get the complaint dismissed and end the matter right then and there.
- Investigation. If the physician does not respond with sufficient evidence to dismiss the complaint, the TMB will open a formal investigation. Generally, the investigative staff reviews the patient’s medical file and makes a recommendation. The complaint may be dismissed, or the TMB may offer the physician a remedial plan for a violation, which is a corrective action that’s considered non-disciplinary. If neither of these happens, the matter may then go to a Quality Assurance Panel.
- Quality Assurance Panel. This panel of five TMB members conducts a more in-depth review and then responds in one of three ways: dismissal, a remedial plan, or referral to the Litigation Department for an informal settlement conference (ISC).
- Informal Settlement Conference. If a complaint appears to have some merit but the physician does not accept a remedial plan, a staff attorney for the TMB will present the case to an ISC panel of two TMB members, which must include one physician. This panel reviews the case, and the physician has the chance to show compliance with the Texas Medical Practice Act. If the panel finds a violation, it may offer the physician an agreement with set sanctions and terms, or a remedial plan may be offered for minor violations. If the panel finds no violation, the complaint is dismissed.
- Formal Resolution by Administrative Hearing. If the complaint cannot be resolved through the ISC process, the TMB staff attorney files a formal complaint with the State Office of Administrative Hearings. This hearing is much like a trial in court, except that an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presides without a jury. The ALJ receives evidence and hears witnesses testify under oath. The ALJ then presents a Proposal for Decision to the TMB, which concludes whether the law was violated. This proposal is usually accepted by the TMB, which in turn either issues sanctions or dismisses the case.
- Appeal to Travis County District Court. If the decision is adverse, the physician may appeal to the District Court in Travis County, Austin, Texas. This judicial review is restricted to the facts in the ALJ’s Proposal for Decision. No new evidence may be offered at this time.
The TMB website provides even more detailed information about how complaints are handled and violations enforced. As you can see, this is a long, arduous, complicated legal process if it goes the distance. But with good legal counsel in your corner, you may be able to resolve it quickly. Even if you do end up going deeper into the process, an expert medical license defense attorney can help you put up the best possible fight to protect your reputation and practice.
How an Experienced Lawyer Can Help You
Most complaints filed against a doctor can be resolved by writing a skillful response. If you have evidence that shows you didn’t violate the law and a lawyer who knows how to expertly summarize that evidence, your complaint has a good chance of being nipped in the bud. Remember, there is no jury. The officials involved are well-versed in this area and consider themselves true specialists. That’s why you need your own true specialist – someone who speaks their language, someone they can relate to, someone who can persuade them with deft legal expertise that you did not violate the law.
Call Gardner Employment Law
Keeping your medical license unblemished is more challenging than ever. Complaints have risen dramatically and defending against them is daunting. At Gardner Employment Law, we understand that being a physician is a calling, and your license is your badge of honor. Your focus is on making sound medical judgments and caring for your patients. Getting mired in legal entanglements can only impede that mission. We’re here to help.
If you receive a letter from the TMB, call us right away. At Gardner Employment Law, we are adept at defending physicians against this aggressive agency. Our goal is to get the complaint dismissed early in the process – so you can save money and spend your time doing what you do best: practicing medicine.