It is always an honor and privilege to be asked to represent a health care professional when he/she is being attacked by a licensing board at any stage of the proceeding. But so many times, I wish that our firm has been contracted at an earliest stage of the attack. This wish is usually at 2 a.m. in the morning when our firm is attempting to complete motion or pleading due the next day. Many times physicians ask our help after a case has proceeded to an advanced stage. Of course we are available to help at any stage of a proceeding.
Just recently we were asked to prepare an appeal of a license revocation just 48 hours prior to deadline for filing an appeal. The Doctor’s right to appeal was rapidly being foreclosed by a time limit. At certain stages of a formal proceeding brought by the Texas Medical Board or any licensing Board there are deadlines to file certain motions and pleadings.
These deadlines are rigidly enforced against the healthcare provider. If you miss a deadline you lose, no matter how meritorious your case. If every issue is not included in the pleadings or motions you lose on the issues that are not plead. You may not get an opportunity to amend your pleadings in certain situations.
An example of this deadline situation is the requirement to file a Request for Rehearing after the Texas Medical Board has formally revoked a medical license. You might think that if you don’t file a Request for Rehearing you can just go directly to an appeal. Not so. The Request for Rehearing not only must be filed, but all issues you wish to appeal must be included in the Request for Rehearing.
In a recent case, the physician had defended himself before the State Office of Administrative Appeals. The physician had done a credible job of defense, but the Administrative Judge found for the Texas Medical Board as you might expect. From talking with the Physician, I found that the Board attorney had taken advantage of his lack of legal training every step of the way.
Just 48 hours prior to the deadline for filing a Request for Rehearing, the physician employed our firm. Of course he did not know about the various booby-traps deadlines. I certainly wished that he employed our firm early; so that I would not have been required to work “early”. If he had waited two more days his license revocation would have been permanent with a loss of his right to appeal the Texas Medical Board’s unjust actions.
Fortunately, we were able to file the Request for Rehearing and preserve his right to appeal the Texas Medical Board’s license revocation. The whole administrative scheme for revocations of health care license is replete with booby traps for the unwary. These traps are designed to benefit the bureaucracy in its effort to further the government employee’s agenda.
I urge every healthcare professional that is threatened by a licensing board to contract legal representation as early as practical. Not only, will you have a better chance of defeating the government bureaucracy, but it makes better emotional and financial sense for you to do so. Many professionals assume that when they receive correspondence from the Board that regulate their health care license that the “Board” is making the allegation after some consideration. NO,
the people making the decisions are permanent government employees who in most cases are not licensed in practice area involved.