In 2010, the Texas Medical Board (Board) implemented a new disciplinary mechanism- the Corrective Order. Briefly, a Corrective Order is a disciplinary Order that is offered to physician licensees before any other informal proceedings take place, with the apparent goal of settling those cases quickly, and in lieu of proceeding with an Informal Settlement Conference (ISC).
Corrective Orders are not offered in every legal case, but rather at the discretion of the Board’s Quality Assurance Committee (QA), which is made up of a mix of Board members, District Review Committee members, and Board attorneys and other staff. Typically, Corrective Orders are offered in cases where the alleged violations rise above the ministerial discipline of the Fast-track Order, but where the factual issues are straightforward enough that QA feels they do not necessarily require a hearing.
If the licensee signs the Corrective Order, the ISC is taken off the schedule, and the Order goes to the full Board for approval and resolution. If the licensee declines the Corrective Order, then it is taken off the table and the case is looked at afresh at the ISC. Typically, the licensee is given 20 days to decide whether to sign it or not.
Each time a Corrective Order is signed, the Board benefits in several ways. Each signed Corrective Order helps the Board’s disciplinary numbers and reinforces the viewpoint that they are actively and successfully protecting the public’s health and welfare. Additionally, each Corrective Order that is signed means that the Board will not have to devote further resources to the investigation and informal settlement process which involves the development of a case file by the TMB Staff attorneys and legal assistants. The benefit to the licensee is not always as clear cut.
Upon receipt of a Corrective Order, there are a number of things that should be considered before deciding either way on it.
- First, you do not have to sign it. Rejection of the Corrective Order just means that your case will progress to the ISC stage, just as it would have if one was never offered. Do not feel pressured into signing a Corrective Order.
- Second, the Board may not have the whole story. The decision to offer you a Corrective Order is based only on the Board’s preliminary investigation with little or no input from the physician. There is a reasonably good chance that the Corrective Order does not have the facts entirely straight, and that your participation in an ISC would be valuable in clarifying or mitigating the situation.
- Third, are you happy with the Corrective Order as written? The Board’s policy so far has been that the content of these Corrective Orders is non-negotiable. If there is an objectionable Ordering Paragraph or objectionable Finding, you have to be prepared to live with it.
- Fourth, are you ready to have your name attached to this Corrective Order for the rest of your life? The Corrective Order, once approved by the full Board, becomes a part of your online physician profile. At that point, anyone who searches on your name or license number will be able to pull up and read your Corrective Order.
Ultimately, do not let the offer of a Corrective Order, and its quick turnaround time, lull you into signing something you do not understand or agree with. If you are a physician and faced with the reality of going before the Texas Medical Board, or responding to a Corrective Order, representation from an experienced Texas administrative attorney may help. Please feel free to call the Leichter Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your case with the Texas Medical Board -512 495-9995.