The Texas Medical Board (TMB) pursuant to the Medical Practice Act section 164.059 has the authority to temporarily suspend a physician’s license to practice medicine with or without notice if the physician poses a real and imminent threat to the public through his/her continuation in practice. Although the evidentiary threshold is more stringent than in disciplinary matters, the panel who decides the physician’s fate is comprised of three members of the Texas Medical Board and not an independent and neutral Administrative Law Judge. Needless to say, Staff of the Board rarely loses when it decides to remove a physician from practice through the utilization of its emergency suspension powers. Generally, the Board will invoke this authority for the following types of violations and acts:
- Excessive or intemperate use of drugs or alcohol that in the Board’s opinion could endanger a patient’s life;
- Non-Therapeutic precribing practices;
- Untreated mental illness;
- Repeated standard of care violations;
- Repeated and dramatic boundary violations.
What is not apparent to most physicians who are faced with this process or loss, are the ramifications which follow the entry of an order temporarily removing the physician from practice. When the hearing is with notice or a noticed hearing is waived in an effort to remedy the problem and settle the case for an Agreed Disciplinary Order at a later date the following consequences will ensue:
- The return of the physician’s Drug Enforcement Adminstration & Department of Public Safety Controlled Substances Registrations and the potential long term loss of such privileges;
- The suspension of the doctor’s hospital privileges at whatever hospital he/she may be a member of the medical staff;
- The disqualification from the individuals Certifying Medical Specialty Board –Board Certification;
- The termination and exclusion from participation as a preferred provider by insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield & Aetna;
- Exclusion by the Office of the Inspector General from particpating in Federal reimbursement programs such as Medicare & Medicaid;
- Removal from the Approved Doctor’s List of the Department of Insurance’s Workers Compensation Commission;
- A swarm of negative press as the TMB issues press releases to the physician’s local paper and television networks and such stories often make front page headlines;
- The filing of new and otherwise unremarkeable law suits as a result of the now publicly disclosed negative information regarding the physician’s character or practice;
- A wave of new Complaints & Investigations to and by the TMB as patients who were otherwise unknowing or on the fence now feel justified in coming forward.