November 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 332


Texas Medical Board Investigations: 3 FAQs and Defense Strategies

Texas has many professional regulatory and licensing boards that govern medical professionals. The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is one of the most active and aggressive state medical agencies in the country. It investigates and sanctions a wide variety of conduct in Texas, putting medical professionals into difficult predicaments with their medical license to practice on the line. And, usually, the TMB investigations involve board rules and Texas Medical Practice Act violations. 

Here are answers to three questions that you likely have about the Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigation process, as well as three defense strategies that Dr. Nick Oberheiden, a TMB investigation lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., has successfully used to protect clients in the past.

3 FAQs About TMB Investigations

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigation process is a confusing one. Healthcare providers frequently have pressing questions about it. Here are just a few that TMB investigation attorney Dr. Nick Oberheiden often gets from clients in the early stages of his legal representation. 

1. Can I Respond to the Complaint Letter on My Own?

While you can, it is highly recommended that you get legal counsel from an experienced attorney or the legal representation of a Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigation lawyer before responding to the complaint letter from the agency.

This letter requests information relevant to the investigation and is often the first indication that you are under scrutiny. The questions used in the letter, though, are often very open-ended. They are designed to encourage disclosure and aim to entice you to provide more information than you may think is best. In many cases, healthcare professionals do not realize that the information they provide in response to the letter ends up incriminating them in ways that lead to disciplinary actions like license suspension or revocation.

2. The Deadline to Respond to the Complaint it Tight. Can I Get an Extension?

Yes, though the Texas Medical Board (TMB) often requires a showing of good cause before it will offer an extension to the deadline for information. Asking for an extension is often a good idea, even if you don't need to provide the information being requested. With the additional time offered in the extension, you can review your disclosure carefully to ensure that nothing you are providing to them can be used against you in the future.

3. What are the Potential Penalties?

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is limited in the sanctions that it can assess on licensed healthcare professionals in the state. For example, the TMB cannot send you to jail. However, those limited penalties can still ruin your finances and your professional career.

One of the most common actions that the TMB will take is to suspend or revoke your license to practice medicine in Texas. The Board can take this action even if the alleged offense has nothing to do with your ability to do your job – medical professionals have seen their licenses suspended or even revoked for seemingly irrelevant offenses like driving under the influence (DUI). If the TMB imposes this penalty, it can put your earnings on hold while the suspension is in place, or completely end your career, if it revokes your license to medical practice.

This restriction on your license to practice is a public document. Other states will have access to it, as well, so even if you move out of Texas you will still struggle to practice medicine in your new home state.

In addition to enforcement actions against your license, the TMB can also impose administrative penalties. These come in the form of a fine. While the maximum administrative fine is $5,000, that amount is per violation. If the TMB is sanctioning repeated or continual violations, that fine can quickly grow out of proportion. 

3 Defense Strategies for TMB Investigations

Numerous defense strategies can be used to combat a Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigation. However, it is important to first note that the best one for your particular needs may not be the same as for someone else’s. The context matters, as can your interests and concerns.

The best way to decide how to proceed is to hire a TMB investigation lawyer. Their experience with these investigations gives them the insight that you need to make an informed decision that protects your professional and financial future.

1. Take the Investigation Seriously

When they get a Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigation notification, many healthcare professionals in Texas do not take it seriously. Some think that it will resolve itself. Others struggle to find the time in their busy days to respond to it. Still, others find the allegations so trivial or wrong that they think that the TMB will drop the case on its own once they realize their mistake.

Not taking the situation seriously is one of the best ways for letting it get out of hand. The reality is that the TMB’s notice of investigation is not the first step they take in the case: They have already built enough evidence to support the allegations to warrant an official filing. 

As Dr. Nick Oberheiden, a TMB investigation attorney at Oberheiden P.C., says, “As much as it might seem so, the TMB does not send investigation letters simply because they feel like it. They only do it if they have learned of potential violations of their code of conduct. As a result, there is no such thing as a routine TMB investigation. They should all be treated with your full and undivided attention.”

2. Do Not Retaliate Against the Patient Who Filed a Complaint

Many Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigations come after a patient complains about your standard of care. It is easy to want to lash out at the accuser, and in many cases, it is not difficult to figure out who made the complaint once it becomes available for your review.

Doing so, however, can lead to additional problems down the road. Your retaliatory actions are likely to trigger other investigations into new violations of your code of conduct, making your situation even worse.

3. Get All Relevant Medical Records

Many state medical boards like  Texas Medical Board (TMB) investigations revolve around the standard of medical care that you provided to a patient. A big part of determining whether it was substandard or not will depend on the patient’s medical records.

Unfortunately, you are likely only going to have access to the records of the medical care that you provided. Other healthcare professionals will have likely been involved with the patient’s care, as well. You will need to get their medical records to effectively defend yourself during the TMB investigation.

Oberheiden P.C. © 2022 National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 237

About this Author

Nick Oberheiden Criminal Defense Attorney Oberheiden PC
Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Dr. Nick Oberheiden focuses his litigation practice on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, SEC & FCPA enforcement, and commercial litigation. He has defended clients in PPP Loan Fraud cases and COVID-19 investigations. Nick also directs internal corporate investigations and he leads defense teams in whistleblower actions, corporate defense cases, as well as cases involving national security and elected officials.

Clients from more than 45 U.S. states have hired Nick to seek effective protection against government...