The Texas Medical Board oversees a disciplinary panel that, without notice, can temporarily suspend a Texas medical license when it determines the licensee’s continued practice of medicine threatens public welfare.
A Texas physician received an unannounced suspension in January 2019 for allegedly caring for patients while he was under the influence of unspecified controlled substances. The doctor’s suspected abuse of illegal drugs came to the attention of the Texas Medical Board when a medical care center terminated the doctor’s practice at their facility.
Temporary medical license suspension
A temporary license suspension activates a disciplinary hearing under the Medical Practices Act for the alleged violation. License suspension remains in force until the Texas Medical Board makes a ruling. After 10 days, the alleged offender, called the Respondent, receives a notice of an initial hearing review by the TMB. The medical professional has the opportunity to present information about the alleged violation.
A defense attorney usually accompanies the Respondent. The attorney’s experience in medical board actions can help outline salient points. The board closely monitors the Respondent’s presentation. The statements made at this hearing can influence the remainder of the enforcement process.
After the initial hearing, two TMB board-certified members of the Respondent’s medical specialty will review the evidence. If this expert panel determines compromised patient care occurred, the matter will go to the TMB Litigation Section; otherwise, it dismisses the case.
Informal Settlement and Compliance Proceeding
Preliminary to sending the case to an Administrative Law Judge for a formal proceeding, the Respondent has the opportunity to rebut TMB’s claim of a potential violation of the Medical Practices Act. Lesser sanctions or outright dismissal of the alleged Medical Practices Act violation charge resolve the majority of cases at this stage.
For the small number of cases referred onward to the State Office of Administrative Hearings, an Administrative Law Judge reviews the evidence and submits a proposed decision to the TMB. If the TMB decides to proceed with disciplinary action, the Respondent may appeal the verdict in District Court.
Respondents may want to take every measure to present the strongest possible case to defend their medical licenses. Consequences of losing a medical license can be severe.