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Category Archives: TSB of Examiners of Psychologists

psychologist, when a complaint is filed, Texas professional license defense lawyerPsychologists who are licensed by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists have worked hard to become licensed and to gain the trust of patients. Needless to say, it is extremely traumatic when a complaint is filed alleging a violation of state law or Board rules. What should a psychologist who is notified of a complaint expect?

Complaints alleging psychologist misconduct are first reviewed to determine whether the Board has jurisdiction over the matter. For jurisdiction to exist, the complaint must allege a violation of the Psychologist’s Licensing Act or Board rules, the psychologist must be Board-licensed, and the services must have been performed by an agency that is non-exempt. If jurisdiction exists, the complaint is referred to a Board investigator. Written notification is provided to the psychologist, who has 30 days to respond to the complaint. At this point, the psychologist should have an experienced attorney to assist with the response to ensure that his rights are protected and the response is crafted presents the psychologist’s position in the best light.

If the investigator concludes that probable cause exists that the misconduct occurred, the psychologist will receive a notice that lists the alleged violations and the evidence uncovered during the investigation phase. The Disciplinary Review Panel will then hold an informal settlement conference at which both the complainant and the psychologist have an opportunity to speak. It is important to note that the psychologist is permitted to bring legal counsel to the conference. This is a definite plus, because the settlement conference and the information presented there is critical to the determination of the matter.

After the conference, the Panel will dismiss the complaint, return the case to the Investigator, or recommend that the psychologist receive disciplinary sanctions. The sanctions are incorporated into an agreed order, which the psychologist can sign, settling the matter. If the psychologist refuses to sign the agreed order, the case moves on to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Sanctions imposed in the agreed order can include a reprimand, probation, license suspension, or even license revocation, depending on the nature and scope of the violations. Having a skilled attorney assist with negotiating the terms of an agreed order can impact the scope of the sanctions and is an important resource for the psychologist.

If the investigator finds that there is not probable cause that the misconduct occurred, a committee will review the investigator’s finding, and will either recommend that the complaint be dismissed or send it back to the investigator for further review. A written record of the complaint resolution is sent to the filer and the respondent.

If you have been notified that a complaint against you has been filed with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, you need an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney at your side as soon as possible. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for help with your case.

psychologist fingerprint requirementThe Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (the Board) has announced that, beginning with license renewals in January 2015, it will require a fingerprint criminal history check in connection with renewals of license applicants before October 2007 but who did not go through such a check when they applied.

This requirement is one time only and will be introduced gradually beginning with January 2015 license renewals. About one-quarter of licensees who are eligible for the required check must submit a fingerprint criminal history check during calendar year 2015. The remainder will have to comply with the fingerprint criminal history check during the following three calendar years.

The Board will notify licensees that they must submit the fingerprint criminal history check before their license renewal date. Under Board rules, the Board must receive the fingerprint criminal history check by the designated renewal date. If it is not received on time, the Board will not renew the license. It is therefore critical to comply with the requirement by the renewal due date or face nonrenewal of a license to practice psychology in the State of Texas.

Fingerprint criminal history checks are currently a normal part of the licensing process, and new applicants are required to obtain a fingerprint criminal record check using the Fingerprint Applicant Service of Texas (FAST). Presumably the licensees who are required to complete the fingerprint criminal history check as part of the renewal process will be directed to use the FAST program for submitting fingerprints, although that hasn’t been specified. The Board has stated that instructions for completing the fingerprint criminal history check will be included in directions mailed to the licensees prior to their renewal dates.

If you have any concerns about submitting to a fingerprint criminal history check as part of your psychology license renewal, you need the help of an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney to protect your practice. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, as soon as possible for the best outcome.

psychologist professional licenseUnder Texas law in effect prior to September 1, 2013, a professional who believes that a child has been abused or neglected or is being abused or neglected must report it within 48 hours. But what happens when a mental health professional is treating an adult patient and suspects that the patient was abused or neglected as a child? Does the duty to report still exist? Recent developments provide the answer.

A 2012 opinion of the Texas Attorney General answered that question in the negative. According to the Attorney General, the statutory definition of “child” is clear and unambiguous, and refers to a person who currently satisfies the definition. Therefore, the requirement to report abuse or neglect is not triggered if the patient is currently an adult.

As a result of that opinion, the Texas legislature amended the law to require, as of September 1, 2013, that the abuse or neglect of an adult patient who was a child at the time of the abuse or neglect must be reported under certain circumstances. A report must be made if disclosure is required to protect the health and safety of another child or an elderly or disabled person.

The duty to report applies not only to licensed professionals such as medical practitioners and mental health professionals, but also to attorneys, clergy, social workers, licensing board members and employees, and employees of clinics and health care facilities.

Criminal penalties apply if a professional knowingly fails to report child abuse or neglect as required by law. The offense is generally a Class A misdemeanor, but it is a state jail felony if it is proven that the professional intended to conceal the abuse or neglect.

If you are a licensed medical or mental health professional and you have reason to believe that your license is in jeopardy, you need the help of an experienced professional license attorney. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for the assistance you need to defend your professional license.

Texas Physician Health ProgramMedical professionals who are dealing with substance abuse issues, psychiatric disorders, and other medical problems are at risk of facing disciplinary proceedings and the loss of their license to practice. Those individuals have the understandable tendency to avoid dealing with the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and the rather realistic fear that being discovered as having a substance abuse or mental health problem could have serious professional repercussions. Rather than facing possible devastating sanctions, those medical professionals can instead turn to the Texas Physician Health Program (TPHP) for help without the accompanying punitive results.

The Texas legislature created the TPHP in 2010 as an independent, confidential program that is separate from, yet administratively tied to, the TMB. It is an attractive alternative for individuals who are impacted by substance abuse or psychiatric disorders, because a participant’s program file is not available to the TMB as long as the participant remains in compliance with the parties’ agreement. Participants are also not considered to be under a TMB order. Those who take advantage of the program may have positive outcomes and continue to practice medicine safely and effectively.

Participation in TPHP is available to physicians, physician assistants, acupuncturists, and surgical assistants, and TMB license applicants. Individuals are not eligible to participate if they have been convicted of a felony, have violated the standard of care, or have a boundary violation with a patient or patient’s family member. Self-referrals are encouraged, but referrals are accepted from hospitals, employers, staff, colleagues, family, friends, treatment facilities, licensure boards, and other state physician health programs. All referrals are kept strictly confidential.

There are a number of stipulations required to participate in the program, so careful consideration of the available options is a must. If you are dealing with substance abuse or a psychiatric disorder and have concerns about your professional license and reputation, contact an experienced professional license attorney for assistance. Oscar San Miguel, Attorney At Law, can help you handle these difficult issues.

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Austin, Texas Professional License Defense Attorney Oscar San Miguel represents clients who are located in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Arlington, Amarillo, Lubbock, Brownsville, Laredo, Harlingen, McAllen, Round Rock, Longview, Travis County, Harris County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, Bexar County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Cameron County, Nueces County, El Paso County, Potter County, Lubbock County, Grayson County, Collin County and throughout Texas.
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