Formal Investigation Phase
After Board staff determines that probable cause exists to investigate a complaint, the licensee will often be contacted by the Board Investigator, requesting an explanation of the events at issue, medical records, and other applicable documents. An administrative law attorney, well-versed in the Texas Medical Board’s investigative process, is often an invaluable asset at this stage, as it is important to comply fully with Board staff’s requests, but not provide too much or too little information. Too much information can lead to the Board Investigator branching out into other aspects of the licensee’s practice. Too little information can lead to allegations of a failure to cooperate with Board staff. (see Board Rule sec. 179.4)
According to Board Rule 179.6, the Investigation Phase is supposed to be concluded within 180 days of the complaint officially being filed, and the investigation officially being opened. That is 180 days, UNLESS good cause exists why the investigation could not concluded in that period of time. As such it is not uncommon for Board investigations to last well beyond the 180 day limit. (see Board Rule sec. 179.6)
It should also be noted that all complaints and investigation materials are confidential by statute, meaning that the Board, even if contacted, cannot confirm or deny that a licensee is under investigation. (see Occ. Code Sec 164.007(c), and Board Rule sec. 179.3)
If the complaint is based on an alleged standard of care violation, the Board Investigator will send the medical records and other applicable records (including any response from the licensee) to a panel of two Experts, employed by the Board, to make a determination as to whether a standard of care violation is present. If the two Panelists agree that no standard of care violation is present, the case will be dismissed. If the two Panelists disagree as to whether there is a standard of care violation, the case file is sent to a third Panelist to break the tie. If the Panelists agree that a violation of the standard of care is present, the investigatory process will continue. (see Board Rule sec. 182.8)
If the complaint is based on something other than a standard of care issue, like a peer review action, criminal action, or substance abuse allegation, Board staff will determine whether there is evidence to support a violation of Board rules or the Medical Practice Act (the Act).
In either case, if is determined that the evidence gathered is sufficient to indicate a violation of Board rules or the Act, the investigation will be referred for an Informal Settlement Conference. (see Board Rule sec. 178.7)
If you are undergoing formal investigation, contact the Texas medical license attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm today at 512-495-9995 for experienced legal representation.