The Texas Medical Board's New Fast-Track Process for Resolving Minor Cases

The Texas Medical Board receives about 6,000 complaints each year, and in an effort to resolve select "minor" violations of the Medical Practice Act (Act) more quickly, an administrative penalty order has been developed and put into use called the Fast-track Order (Fast-track). Not every violation of the Act is eligible for a Fast-track. The Fast-track has been referred to as the speeding ticket of the Board's disciplinary options. Its use is limited to a relatively small list of violations, including: failure to complete continuing medical education (CME) requirements; failure to change address with Board; and failure to provide copies of medical records in a timely manner upon request. If Board staff determines that a licensee's alleged violation is eligible for a Fast-track, they will send a brief notice of the allegations to the licensee with a synopsis of the allegations and the deadlines for response. The licensee is given three choices: The first option is to plead no contest and pay the fine. Sometimes this can be an attractive outcome if the licensee inarguably violated the Act, and wants to save the time and money of even taking the case as far as an Informal Settlement Conference (ISC). A no-contest plea means that the Fast-track will be entered by the Board, and the licensee's public profile will be updated to reflect the discipline. The order itself is a brief document, containing only a brief statement of the allegation, but its presence is a permanent mark on the licensee's public profile. The second option the licensee is given is to respond in writing to the allegation. The licensee's right to an ISC is thereby waived, and the written response is considered by the Board's Disciplinary Process Review Committee (DPRC). DPRC will then either dismiss the case or impose the fast-track penalty without any further input from the licensee. The final option is to reject the fast-track order and proceed to an ISC, which is to say that the case would proceed through the regular disciplinary process. The licensee would be invited to attend an ISC and discuss the allegations with a Panel of Board representatives. If the licensee chooses not to answer at all, the Board has the authority to impose the administrative penalty. This happens often if the Board does not have the licensee's current contact information, and when the discrepancy is noticed by the licensee somewhere down the road, they find themselves mired in bureaucratic quicksand trying to straighten it out. Ultimately, if you receive a Fast-Track, and you are faced with the prospect of choosing one of the above options, you should realize that each one of the above options has its variables to consider, whether it be the amount of time and money that will be spent, or the visibility of a given disciplinary outcome. If you have received a Fast-Track letter from the Board, it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney to best evaluate your options. The Leichter Law Firm has successfully defended many clients before the Board, and is mindful of the pitfalls of the Board's disciplinary process. Do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation at (512) 495-9995.

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