Anyone may register a complaint against a practitioner licensed by the Board. Complaints must be submitted in writing. The identity of complainants is protected and kept confidential by law, with the exception of complaints filed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. The Board cannot accept complaints submitted anonymously. The most frequent complaints involve issues related to standard of care, professional incompetence, unprofessional conduct which may endanger the public, and inability to practice medicine by reason of mental or physical impairment.
Allegations of all complaints are reviewed by our investigators, who are trained professionals. If sufficient information and evidence are obtained through the investigation to suggest that there has been a violation of the Texas Occupations Code, the case is scheduled for an informal settlement conference and perhaps a contested hearing before an administrative law judge.
After referral of the case to the Investigations Department, the licensee receives written notice of the possible violation and is invited to discuss the matter with Board members or a Board member and a district review committee member. This meeting affords an opportunity to discuss the case and determine, if there is a problem, whether it can be resolved by agreement, or whether the matter must be heard by an administrative law judge from the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The complainant is also invited to this conference.
If, as a result of an agreement or hearing, the licensee is found to have violated the Texas Occupations Code, there are several options available to the Board, ranging from a written reprimand to a license revocation. In some instances, the licensee may be placed on probation, or other restrictions may be imposed. Then he or she becomes the responsibility of one of the Board's compliance officers. A compliance officer meets with the probationer on a regular basis, and the probationer will be required to meet periodically with the Board.
The Board is also statutorily charged to receive reports of claims and lawsuits against physicians that are based on allegations of professional liability. These reports provide a detection system which may identify recurring patterns of unacceptable health care.