Texas State Board of Pharmacy Complaint Process
When 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.