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It takes years to become a licensed physician, and only a moment to lose that license forever. Everyone a physician worked so hard to accomplish can be stripped of them in a matter of weeks following a complaint an investigation launched by the Texas Medical Board. If found guilty of the charges they are accused of, a physician can lose their license. In addition, the crime the doctor is accused of committing could further result in prison time, hefty fines, and restitutions. The physician’s reputation is tarnished, patients are lost, and the future of the physician’s family is in jeopardy.
Formal investigations are terrifying for anyone accused of committing a crime, and oftentimes a physician is not guilty of said crime. Physicians lose their licenses all the time when a formal complaint is filed and they’re found guilty of any of the following:
– Medical misconduct
– Professional misconduct
– Substance abuse
– Criminal conviction
Medical misconduct can be anything from deliberately performing procedures on a patient they don’t need, not abiding by the law to ensure patients are properly cared for, or not behaving according to the rules put in place by the state medical board.
Professional misconduct can be against a patient, a vendor, or an employee. It can encompass anything from racial to gender discrimination, sexual misconduct, and other inappropriate behavior. A doctor is expected to behave within a certain manner, and failing to do so is considered professional misconduct.
Substance abuse doesn’t have to occur in the office for a physician to be under investigation. Any physician accused of substance abuse in or outside the office is required to go through mandatory detox if they want to use their license again. This might mean a probationary period in which the doctor is not permitted to practice, a suspension of his or her professional license, or even loss of a license if the doctor fails to successfully complete whatever courses are required.
Criminal conviction is grounds for automatic license loss. If a doctor is arrested for any criminal activity in or out of the workplace, the doctor’s license is immediately stripped of him or her. This is not something that can be avoided if criminal conviction takes place.
Fraud occurs all the time in the medical field. It’s not always deliberate and even if it is, it’s not always the fault of the physician running a business. Administrative staff is responsible for billing patients and insurance companies, and they are often accused of making billing mistakes. Doctors can be accused of fraud if they record procedures they did not perform, charge insurance for procedures the patient didn’t have, or overcharge for specific practices within the office.
When a physician is investigated, they are issued a letter of explanation. This letter explains the accusation, the reason for the investigation, and what the board needs from the physician in terms of evidence. The doctor is required to respond to the complaint to dispute it, and the doctor should never do so without the legal assistance of a physician license defense attorney. Any information provided can be used against the doctor, and it’s advisable no physician speak to anyone without a lawyer present.
The findings of an investigation determine the next step. The medical board can suspend or revoke a license, issue probation or fines, or write a letter of reprimand for the doctor’s file. The case can then to go the state level or even the federal level for a hearing.
Discipline could include fines issued for each charge the physician is found guilty of committing. It can also come with a minimum prison sentence for each crime committed. If an office is found guilty of administrative mistakes in billing that lead to fraud, the physician can still face license suspension and fines, and the office will receive an administrative sanction. The laws governing the practice of all physicians in Texas are standard, and they’re strict. Physicians are held to a higher standard than many other professionals given their responsibility to the lives of their patients. Don’t go through an investigation without an attorney present.