Optometrist License Defense Lawyer in Austin and Houston, TX
Texas Optometrist License Attorney
Optometrists are used to helping their patients with their eye-care needs. Unfortunately, optometrists sometimes face spurious assaults on their character and medical abilities, threatening their ability to practice medicine and support themselves and their families. These optometrists deserve vigorous defense from their charges and the opportunity to explain themselves and their cases in front of the Texas Optometry Board. The best way for someone to protect their optometry license is to speak with a qualified optometrist license defense attorney.
At the Leichter Law Firm, our experienced Texas optometrist license defense attorneys are dedicated to helping optometrists who are faced with potentially serious punishments. If you would like to discuss your case with us in detail and learn more about how we can defend your good name and your ability to perform your job, please contact us today by calling 512-495-9995. Schedule a free consultation with us to discover how a professional license defense attorney can help you protect your personal and professional reputation.
Who Regulates Optometrists in Texas?
In Texas, the practice of optometry is regulated by the Texas Optometry Act and the Texas Optometry Board’s rules and regulations. According to the Board, their mission is to “promote, preserve, and protect the health, safety and welfare needs of the people of Texas.” The Board is responsible for rulings and official positions on optometry practice in the state.
The Texas Optometry Act also outlines various rules and regulations for both optometrists and the Texas Optometry Board. Its subchapters cover the following topics.
- Texas Optometry Board membership, eligibility, restrictions, conflicts of interest, terms, officers, grounds for removal, per diem, reimbursement, meetings, reports, and training
- Executive Directors and other personnel of the Board, including the staff attorney, division of responsibilities, qualifications, standards of conduct, and performance evaluations
- Powers and duties of the Texas Optometry Board, including rules, fees, complaints, enforcement, inspections, legal representation, committee appointments, board records, alternative rulemaking, and dispute resolution
- Information of public interest and complaint procedures
- Optometry license requirements, including education requirements, criminal history information, exam requirements, applications, and fees
- Optometrist license renewal requirements, such as the renewal procedure, criminal history information requirements, and continuing education
- Rules and regulations for the practice of optometry by license holders
- Prohibited activities in general and by license holders, such as impersonation, deception, fraud, misleading advertising, alteration of prescriptions, and discrimination
- Disciplinary procedures, including license denial, submission to mental or physical exams, license suspension or restriction, noncompliance, judicial review, probation, informal proceedings, recusal, and remedial plans
- Administrative penalties, hearings, Board decisions, appeals, monitoring the license holder, injunction, deceptive trade practices, criminal penalties, and cease and desist orders
What Constitutes Grounds for Disciplinary Action for Optometrists?
Charged with enforcing the Texas Optometry Act (Texas Occupations Code § 351 et., al.), the Texas Optometry Board may investigate possible violations of the Act or Board Rules, commence disciplinary proceedings, and order administrative sanctions. In accordance with Texas Optometry Act § 351.051, the Optometry Board may probate, suspend, or revoke an optometrist’s license for any of the following:
- Incompetent practice of optometry
- Non-therapeutic prescribing
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol (substance abuse)
- Professional misconduct
- Criminal arrest(s), charges or convictions
- Unprofessional conduct
- Gross negligence
- Insurance fraud
- Sexual misconduct
Therapeutic optometrists’ prescribing privileges are further regulated by Texas Occupations Code §§ 351.451 – 351.452 and 22 Texas Administrative Code § 280.
The disciplinary process begins with a Complaint and Investigation of the optometrist’s alleged misconduct (Texas Optometry Act Subchapter E. Under Texas Optometry Act § 351.507), and the Optometry Board may schedule an Informal Settlement Conference to resolve the matter without a formal hearing on the merits of the case.
If the optometrist and the Optometry Board cannot agree on the appropriate administrative remedy, the optometrist is entitled to an Administrative Hearing pursuant to Texas Occupations Code § 351.507. This hearing will occur before an administrative law judge.
It is extremely important to work with an optometry license defense attorney as soon as you realize you are under investigation. It can be very difficult to face the Board without an attorney looking out for your best interests.
What Does the Investigation and Disciplinary Process Look Like for Optometrists in Texas?
Generally, an investigation starts after someone files a complaint with the Texas Optometry Board. In Texas, the investigation and disciplinary process usually has the following steps.
- Complaint and Investigation: Someone submits a complaint about you to the Board. The Board opens an investigation into the complaint to look for evidence to support the complaint. This can involve gathering subpoenas, witness interviews, and your written responses about the allegations.
- Consent Decree: If the Board finds no evidence of wrongdoing, they will likely close the complaint. If they find enough evidence of wrongdoing, they will start by offering you a consent decree. Consent decrees are agreements between the Board, the state, and you in place of a formal hearing. In these decrees, you basically admit the wrongdoing and submit to disciplinary action.
- Formal Hearing: If the Board does not offer a consent decree, or if you do not agree to it, you will attend a formal hearing before the Board or before an administrative law judge.
- Board Decision: After the hearing, the Board will decide whether or not you are guilty of the allegations against you. Then, they decide on appropriate penalties.
Again, we strongly recommend working with an experienced license defense lawyer when you learn you are under investigation. An optometry license attorney with the Leichter Law Firm is here to defend your reputation.
How Long Do I Have to Defend Against the Allegations?
It’s important to remember that you do not have an unlimited amount of time to respond to the allegations. In fact, you only have about two weeks to respond to formal allegations with a notice of defense. For this reason, you should contact an attorney as soon as you know about the investigation.
Even if the allegations are for something minor, you should not ignore them. Ignoring them could result in a negative mark on your professional record. This could, in turn, damage your professional reputation. An experienced attorney can help you defend against the allegations or possibly have the penalties lowered.
Will I Lose My License if the Texas Optometry Board Disciplines Me?
Not necessarily. While it is a possible penalty for very serious cases, it is not a guarantee. The Board often offers alternatives to license revocation, such as mandatory treatment for substance abuse cases instead of discipline. Depending on your specific situation, your attorney can negotiate a lesser punishment or defend against disciplinary action altogether.
What Penalties Could Optometrists Face?
Optometrists could face the following penalties for wrongdoing related to their professional practice.
- License revocation
- License suspension
- Restrictions on their practice
- Formal reprimand
How Can a License Defense Attorney Help Me Keep My License?
By working with a skilled optometry license defense attorney, your chances of a complaint damaging your career can decrease drastically. We have the strategies and experience it takes to protect your professional license against serious allegations of misconduct. When you work with the legal team at the Leichter Law Firm, you receive the following benefits.
- A better understanding of the allegations against you, as well as their potential impacts on your career
- Legal representation before the Board throughout the investigation process
- Strong evidence to support you and disprove the complaint against you
- Help with negotiations to have the complaint closed, to convince the Board to offer a lesser penalty, or to have certain evidence thrown out
- Help with getting your license reinstated if the Board has already revoked or suspended it
Contact the Texas Optometrist License Defense Lawyers at Leichter Law Today
If you are going before the Texas Optometry Board and may face serious repercussions, the Leichter Law Firm may be able to help you. An experienced license defense attorney with our firm will have what it takes to defend your license and livelihood against the allegations you are facing. To learn more, please contact us today by calling one of our Texas optometry license defense attorneys at 512-495-9995.