If you’re one of more than one million licensed physicians who practice medicine in the United States, you might be surprised to learn that more than 8,000 cases are brought before state medical boards each year, including many in Texas. You likely studied in medical school for 10 or more years to earn your degrees and approval to work with patients. It’s understandable that you want to protect your license.
There are numerous reasons why you could face a state board for potential disciplinary action. Any issue at all is undoubtedly enough to cause you stress and anxiety, especially if there’s a serious matter at hand. Even if the ultimate outcome of your situation is in your favor, merely facing accusations of misconduct, unethical behavior or other issues can have far-reaching, negative implications.
State medical boards often take action for these reasons
Learning that your medical license may be in jeopardy may seem unthinkable to you. However, the following list shows several of the most common reasons that someone in your line of work might have his or her license placed at risk:
- Unprofessional conduct
- Alcohol abuse
- Controlled substance violations
- Patient complaints
State laws regarding such issues, particularly a broad term such as “unprofessional conduct,” may vary. In fact, some of the terms mentioned here can intersect. For instance, some states might consider alcohol abuse as unprofessional conduct. It’s critical that you are aware of and understand the laws of the jurisdiction where you practice medicine.
The possible results of a state medical board disciplinary hearing
You might believe that you are innocent of the allegations brought against you, which have now placed your medical license at risk. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a hearing before the board will have the results you expect or hope to achieve. This next list shows numerous possible outcomes that could occur if the Texas Medical Board calls your license into question:
- A reprimand or warning
- License suspension
- License revocation
- No action
While disciplinary actions against licensed physicians in Texas and throughout the country are rare, being brought before the board can damage your reputation and spark many problems in your personal life and professional career.
Protecting and defending your medical license
If a patient accuses you of negligent misdiagnosis or other medical malpractice, resolving the issue can take a long time. You may or may not be able to practice medicine during this time, depending on the specific details of your case. A physician who believes that allegations against him or her are without merit may take steps to refute the accusations.
It’s also possible, in certain circumstances, to negotiate a settlement that enables you to continue practicing medicine if you have made an error that was indefensible. Most physicians seek legal counsel before speaking to board members in order to explore their options and determine what type of defense strategy might be best to help mitigate their circumstances.