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classifications in dental license complaintsLearning that a complaint has been filed against you can be one of the most difficult problems to deal with in your dental practice. Licensed dentists have worked long and hard to build their practices and livelihoods, and the specter of a complaint can wreak havoc on a dentist’s career and life. It is important for practitioners to understand the different types of complaints that can be filed.

Under the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners rules, complaints are designated as either Priority One or Priority Two. Under this classification system, Priority One is comprised of more serious allegations such as the death of a patient, injury to a patient, engaging in the practice of dentistry without a license, and unsanitary conditions. Priority Two is comprised of less serious infractions, such as failure to maintain adequate records and improper advertising.

In the case of all complaints, the Board will make an initial determination of whether the continued practice by the dentist will constitute a definite, impending, or ongoing threat to the public welfare. If the Board so determines, the dentist’s license is subject to temporary suspension.

Although not required, the dentist may provide a written response to a complaint. During the investigation process, the dentist may respond to the allegations if desired. If the investigation concludes that the dentist may have violated the Dental Practice Act or Board rules, an informal settlement conference or formal hearing will be held. It is during these phases—response to the complaint, investigation, and formal or informal hearings—that the dentist should have experienced counsel at his or her side to make the strongest case in favor of the dentist. The decisions made at these times can be critical to the resolution of the complaint.

If you have been notified that a complaint to the Board has been made against you, your first course of action should be to contact an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney. You need an attorney by your side who knows how to best defend your license to practice dentistry. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for a consultation at the first sign of a problem.

texas medical board complaintThe Texas Medical Board receives over 7,000 complaints against licensed physicians each year. If the complaint is determined to be within the Board’s jurisdiction, an investigation is done. If the complaint is determined to have merit—that is, the physician acted in a manner that is not consistent with the public’s welfare—the matter is referred to the Board’s Litigation Department.

At this point, an Informal Settlement Conference/Show Compliance proceeding is held. It is a time for the panel—comprised of one physician and one lay person representing the board—to evaluate the information gathered in the investigation process and for the physician to show that he or she is in compliance with the Medical Practice Act. The panel typically reserves one hour or less for the conference, and the Board representatives have a Board attorney there to present the allegations against the physician. The physician presents his or her defense and answers any questions from the panel. The conference is informal in that there is no sworn testimony and rules of evidence do not apply. It is also confidential.

The panel then considers the issues and all of the information presented before making a determination. If the panel determines that no violation of the Medical Practice Act occurred, it recommends dismissal of the case. If it finds that a violation did occur, it recommends either a Remedial Plan or an Agreed Order. A Remedial plan, which is used for less severe cases, consists of corrective measures and is considered to be non-disciplinary. An Agreed Order sets forth the terms of the order and includes any number of sanctions. If agreed to by the physician, the Remedial Plan or Agreed Order must be approved by the full Board.

Sanctions in an Agreed Order can include the following:

  • Fine,
  • Reprimand,
  • Continuing Medical Education,
  • Further appearances before the Board,
  • Chart monitoring,
  • Participation in AA or other rehabilitation program,
  • Drug testing,
  • Referral to the Texas Physician Health Program,
  • Practice restrictions, and
  • Suspension or revocation of license.

The Informal Settlement Conference/Show Compliance proceeding is the stage at which the physician must not be lulled into a false sense of security about the potential severity of the matter. The fact that the Board calls this an informal proceeding does not mean that the process is at all informal. In fact, it can have severe consequences for the physician.

An experienced attorney can present the physician’s defense in the best possible way to positively influence the outcome, and can negotiate the terms of any Agreed Offer. Choosing to go through the conference process without an attorney present is not in the physician’s best interests. The Board has an attorney present, and so should the physician.

If you have been notified of a complaint against you, the earlier you contact an experienced attorney, the better. Contact Texas professional license defense attorney Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for representation before the Texas Medical Board.

professional license attorneyFor a licensed professional, your license is everything, and protecting your license is of the utmost importance. Each of the state boards regulating professional licenses—including medical, nursing, pharmacy, dental, and psychologists, to name a few—has specific rules for obtaining and maintaining a license, and strict disciplinary procedures. The Texas Medical Board alone receives over 7,000 complaints each year. At a recent meeting, the Board disciplined 45 physicians for violations, including:

  • quality of care,
  • unprofessional conduct,
  • inadequate medical records,
  • violation of Board rules,
  • failure to properly supervise or delegate, and
  • inappropriate prescribing.

These actions included one revocation, five voluntary revocations, five voluntary surrenders, and two suspensions.

Licensing guidelines have become stricter, and licensed professionals are humans who sometimes make mistakes. If your license is jeopardized, what should you do? Do you really need to hire a professional license defense attorney?

One of the biggest mistakes made by licensed professionals upon receiving a Notice of Complaint or Investigation is to assume that they will be treated fairly and therefore they should speak freely to the disciplinary board. Others make the mistake of waiting until late in the investigation process, when the initial response has already been made and opportunities for successfully dealing with the disciplinary board have been missed. Sometimes serious consequences are on the horizon before an attorney is called.

The best time to hire an attorney is as soon as you receive notice so that the attorney can help to frame the evidence in the most favorable light for the license holder and can introduce mitigating evidence. The attorney can help in all phases of the disciplinary process, from informal conferences to administrative hearings.

Look for an attorney whose primary—or only—practice area is professional license defense. Many attorneys who claim to specialize in professional license defense do it as a sideline to their main practice area. An attorney whose focus is on professional license defense will provide the most effective legal representation at a time when so much is on the line. Contact Austin professional license attorney Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for a consultation with an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney before it is too late.

pharmacy complaintWhen a complaint is filed against a licensed pharmacist, it can be one of the most stressful and upsetting occurrences in the pharmacist’s career. You should understand the complaint process and how it might impact your license and your very livelihood. You should also know how critical it is to have an experienced attorney at your side throughout the process.

According to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP or Board), anyone may file a complaint, which is required to be in writing, with the Board. The TSBP reviews every complaint to ensure that the allegations, if proven to be true, pertain to a person or pharmacy that is licensed by the Board and to see whether the allegations would constitute a violation of the Texas Pharmacy Act or Texas Drug Laws. Complaints regarding billing disputes or customer service issues, such as rudeness, are not within the Board’s jurisdiction, and those complaints are closed without action.

Complaints that are within the TSBP’s jurisdiction are given to an investigator, who may contact the complainant for more information. However, the investigator does not represent the complainant and will never ask for money damages or restitution on behalf of the complainant.

If a disciplinary action is initiated, the TSBP must comply with the Texas Administrative Procedures Act. The licensee (pharmacist or pharmacy) has the right to be represented by an attorney.

The licensee has the opportunity to attend an informal settlement conference. Notice of the conference includes the date, time, and place of the conference, as well as the issues to be discussed. Licensees should be aware that if permitted by the Texas Pharmacy Act and TSBP Rules, the complainant may also be informed of the date, time, and place of the conference, and may attend the conference at his or her own expense. Under the law, certain informal settlement conferences are required to be kept confidential.

At the conference, the licensee may show compliance with the law. A panel of the TBSP, typically composed of Board staff and one Board member, makes a recommendation for settlement of the case. The recommendation may be dismissal of the case, a formal warning, or a disciplinary action. This recommendation is known as a proposed Agreed Board Order, or ABO. If the licensee agrees with the ABO, it is presented to the TBSP at its next regularly scheduled meeting. If accepted by the Board, the order is entered, and if public, it may be obtained by the complainant. If the licensee does not accept the proposed ABO, or if the Board rejects it, there is a public hearing on the case conducted by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After the public hearing, the ALJ prepares a Proposal for Decision (PFD) containing the ALJ’s findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended disciplinary action. The PFD is presented to the Board, which will then make a decision.

Possible disciplinary actions include a verbal or written warning, reprimand (public censure), suspension, revocation, or retirement of a license, or imposition of a fine. Once an action has been taken, the licensee may file an appeal in the State courts.

The complaint process can be long and drawn out, and it is difficult to predict how long a particular case will last until it is resolved. The TSBP notifies the complainant when the case is closed, and if it is lengthy, will provide the complainant with status updates every 120 days until a final action is taken.

Since a pharmacist’s license and livelihood can be at stake after a complaint is filed, it is critical that the pharmacist be represented by an Austin professional license attorney as soon as possible. If you have been notified of a complaint against you, do not hesitate to contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, as soon as possible.

Texas medical licensing complaints,Whether you are a medical doctor, a mental health professional, a pharmacist, dentist, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, or nurse in Texas, you are required to hold a professional license to practice.

This license holds your professionalism and effectiveness to a high standard, and subsequently opens the door for complaints to your respective Board. In this case, it is important to contact a Texas attorney highly experienced in professional license complaints.

The “Notice of Complaint or Investigation” may come from the many different licensure boards in Texas depending on your role as a health care provider, but the simple fact that you hold a professional license makes you responsible for critical decisions, and the implications of those decisions--whether you believe them to be right or not.

Consider the following when you are issued a complaint while holding a professional license in Texas to protect yourself in the best way possible.

  • Standard of care: The most straightforward way to understand this concept is whether or not a “reasonable, similarly situated professional” would have provided the same care as you in the given situation. Proving a subservient standard of care for a licensed professional can become as in depth as the complaint or investigation--but the consequences can mean fines, or a suspension or revocation of the license altogether.
  • Professional license compliance standards: You must always remember that a professional licensing board is often not subject to the same restrictions as an individual, making a large distinction between a civil case. Licensing boards frequently have more privacy rights, less of a time restriction, and can have just as big of an impact--these cases are not bound to the same burden of proof either.
  • Be mindful when problems arise: As a medical professional, it is five times more likely on average that you will face a board investigation than a malpractice suit. Do not take the board lightly--and only proceed with legal counsel. Consult with an attorney before you turn over any documents, make any statements, or meet with an investigator of any kind.

Investigations on your professional license in Texas can be a serious matter. Often times these issues can materialize quickly--even if no physical harm resulted, a professional licensing board may still see an investigation through. Do not take anything for granted.

If you are a licensed medical professional facing a Board inquiry in or near Austin, Texas, contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law for experienced and professional legal services. Our experienced Texas professional license lawyer can assist you today.

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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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