The Texas Medical Board’s Mission Statement is:
“To protect and enhance the public’s health, safety, and welfare by establishing and maintaining standards of excellence used in regulating the practice of medicine and ensuring quality health care for the citizens of Texas through licensure, discipline, and education.”
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) looks into about 7,000 complaints each year. These complaints come from patients, their families, healthcare workers, and others. The TMB’s job is to figure out if there’s enough evidence to show that someone broke the Medical Practices Act.
The TMB can only do something about people they give licenses to, like doctors, physician assistants, acupuncturists, and surgical assistants. If a complaint is about one of these medical pros, the TMB checks to see if there’s enough proof of wrongdoing. Their main goal is to protect the public, not the doctors or other professionals.
Within 45 days of getting a complaint, the Texas Medical Board has to take a first look. During this time, they might talk to the person who made the complaint and the licensed person. If you’re a licensed person and they get in touch, you really should get a lawyer to help you. This is important to save your license and your job.
Complaints about things like paperwork (medical records) get checked by a TMB lawyer-investigator. Complaints about medical care get looked at by a TMB doctor-investigator. If the info doesn’t clearly say the person broke the Medical Practice Act, they don’t investigate, and the complaint is marked as “Jurisdictional, not Filed.”
If the Texas Medical Board thinks there might be a problem with the Medical Practice Act, they start an investigation. At this point, the person with the license (called the “respondent”) is told about the alleged problems and asked for more info. It’s super important for the respondent to have a lawyer talk to the TMB because this is not a chat; it’s about checking if they broke the rules. During the investigation, the TMB can get info from hospitals and pharmacies and look at medical records without asking the patient. If the complaint is about how care was given and it’s not up to standard, at least two TMB experts in the same field check it. If they say the person’s actions hurt public health and safety, the complaint goes to the Litigation Section for more action. If the experts say the care was okay, the case might get dropped.
END OF THE INVESTIGATION
After the investigation, the complaint can either be dropped by the Disciplinary Process Review Committee (DPRC) or looked at again by a Quality Assurance Panel (QA). The QA has up to five board members who can ask for more investigation, suggest an informal talk through the Litigation Department, suggest dropping it through the board’s disciplinary process review committee, or offer the person a way to make things better.
When the case gets to the Litigation Section, it’s handled by a Staff Attorney and set for an Informal Settlement Conference (ISC). The ISC has a group with two people from the right board, like the Medical Board. It usually has one doctor and one regular person. The ISC is a chance for the group to talk things out and for the person to show they followed the Medical Practices Act. Going to an ISC without a lawyer is a bad idea because about 90% of TMB actions are sorted out informally. The group might say there’s no problem and send the case to the Disciplinary Process Review Committee for possible dropping. Or, if they see a problem, they offer an Agreed Order. This says what the person has to do. It’s smart to have a lawyer check this with the person and talk to the Board.
If there’s no deal at the ISC, the case goes to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). A judge there (ALJ) listens to what’s said and writes a suggestion for the TMB. Then, the TMB decides if there should be a penalty or if the case should be dropped. When the TMB makes up its mind, the person can go to a District Court to appeal.
If you’re the target of a healthcare investigation, act quickly and get a lawyer fast. The quicker you get ready, the better you can defend yourself. Our team is experienced with detailed knowledge regarding healthcare and licensure. Our goal is to defend you in and out of court to protect your license, reputation, and job.