Our healthcare attorneys have extensive experience in representing medical professionals in defending their license to practice in Texas. Understanding the general course of procedural action in license defense proceedings is crucial because it provides the client with a foundational awareness of the various stages of the litigation through which our attorneys guide them.
The process of defending a medical license in Texas can be complex and involves several phases, beginning with the initial complaint then advocacy at the administrative level and ultimately appeal to a district court or court of appeals. Here, we’ve outlined the general development from start to finish of a medical license case.
1. Notification of Complaint: The Texas Medical Board (TMB) will notify you if a complaint has been filed against you. The complaint may be filed by a patient, a family member, or a colleague.
2. Investigation: The TMB will investigate the complaint by reviewing medical records, interviewing witnesses, and gathering evidence. You may be asked to provide additional information and documentation.
3. Informal Settlement: If the TMB finds evidence of a violation, they may offer an informal settlement to resolve the matter. Forty-five days before the information settlement conference (ISC) you and/or your counsel will receive a packet from the TMB. It will contain a summary of the allegations and all of the evidence upon which they rely, including any expert reports they have gathered. The ISC will be held via Zoom. In attendance will be the TMB case attorney, a TMB attorney who serves a moderator and two board members, which is, usually, a doctor and a member of the public. They will engage you and your counsel with questions, and you both may respond. They will then go into executive session and return with a decision. They can dismiss, offer you a non-reportable remedial plan, or propose an agreed order. You may choose to accept the settlement or proceed to a formal hearing.
4. Formal Hearing: If an informal settlement cannot be reached and you choose to contest the allegations, a formal hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge. The case is tried before a single administrative law judge at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). You will be able to conduct written discovery, depose witnesses, and file dispositive motions and other pleadings. During the hearing, both parties will present evidence and arguments where you may provide testimony in your defense and cross-examine witnesses.
5. Decision: After the hearing, the administrative law judge will issue a proposal for decision. If the judge finds in your favor, the complaint will be dismissed. If the judge finds against you, the TMB board will consider the proposal and adopt it in full or in part. The TMB may impose disciplinary actions such as fines, suspension, or revocation of your license.
6. Appeal: You may appeal the decision to a higher court if you believe that your rights were violated or the decision was unjust. The initial appeal is made to a state district court where a judge may sustain the SOAH decision or reverse it. The standard is not de novo, but substantial evidence. If you are unsatisfied you can appeal to the Texas Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
It is important to consult with an experienced healthcare attorney if you are facing disciplinary action. Legal counsel to guide you through the process and protect your rights is critical to achieving the best outcome.
Our medical license defense attorneys possess significant knowledge, skill, and experience in this area of law and have had successful outcomes in various stages of this type of litigation. Should you receive a complaint, reach out to us for an initial consultation to discuss how we may be of assistance.