Informal Settlement Conference
Upon determination by Board staff that there is evidence that a licensee has violated Board rules or the Medical Practice Act (the Act), the investigation is referred to the legal division for scheduling of an Informal Settlement Conference (ISC). (see Board rule sec. 187.11)
When the matter is scheduled for an ISC, the licensee will be notified of the date by Board staff. At least 30 days prior to the date of the ISC, the licensee will receive a packet of information that will included a detailed statement of the nature of the allegations, a copy of the evidence that the Texas Medical Board staff attorney intends to use at the ISC, and any expert reports on which Board staff will rely. (See Board rule sec. 187.16)
The licensee does have an opportunity to respond to Board staff’s allegations and supply their own evidence, and it must be submitted to Board staff at least five days before the ISC. This rebuttal response is given in advance to the Panel of Board representatives that will preside over the ISC. After the five day deadline, it is up to the Board representatives as to whether to consider any additional documentary evidence. The rebuttal response is another aspect of the Board’s disciplinary process in which an experienced administrative law attorney is very helpful. It is not only important that the rebuttal materials are submitted timely, but it is equally important that they make a powerful and persuasive argument, since it will be reviewed by the Panel before the licensee even steps into the room. (See Board rule sec. 187.18)
As mentioned above, the ISC is presided over by two Board representatives- one physician member and one public member. The Board representatives are either Board members or are members of the Board’s District Review Committees. This two-person panel will be responsible for making a recommendation on the case. They are accompanied in the ISC by one of the Board’s Assistant General Counsels, who is present to advise them on legal matters and Board precedents. (See Board rule sec. 187.18)
The ISC is considered, by name and by statute, to be informal. From beginning to end, the actual hearing usually lasts from an hour to two hours, but can vary based on the intricacy of the issues at hand. The ISC opens with the Board staff attorney making a brief statement of the allegations against the licensee. The remainder of the time is turned over to the licensee to put on their defense, and answer questions from the Panel. The Panel will then dismiss the licensee and deliberate on the issues, and will thereafter call the licensee back in to give their recommendation. If they determine that a violation has occurred, they will recommend an Agreed Order, and define the terms of the Order. If they determine that no violation has occurred, they will recommend dismissal of the case. In either case, it is still a recommendation, and the full Board will have to ratify the decision at a Board Meeting. It is infrequent that full Board disagrees with the ISC Panel’s recommendation.
If you are facing an informal settlement conference, contact the Texas medical license defense attorneys of the Leichter Law Firm today at 512-495-9995 to discuss your case with an experienced legal professional.