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    Post: U.S. Court of Appeals Rules against the Texas Medical Board

    Posted by Sharon on 12/10/10

    U.S. Court of Appeals Rules against the Texas Medical Board


    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled, on
    December 2, 2010, against the Texas Medical Board (TMB),
    allowing landmark litigation by the Association of American
    Physicians and Surgeon to proceed to prove wrongdoing by
    the Board.

    Among the claims of “pervasive and continuing violations of
    … constitutional rights” by the TMB, the Court expressly
    noted allegations that “the Board manipulated anonymous
    complaints,” that the former Board president targeted
    physicians, and that “anonymous complaints allegedly were
    filed by a New York insurance company seeking to avoid
    paying … for claims.”

    The unanimous Court described the allegations as “rather
    dramatic claims,” and sent the case to the federal trial
    court so that discovery can proceed. The TMB will no longer
    be able to conceal its wrongdoing against good physicians.

    Physicians brought before a licensure board can be
    financially ruined by unconstitutional proceedings, even if
    exonerated, or they can lose their livelihood altogether.
    Instead of using their enormous power for the purpose of
    protecting the public, board members can deprive thousands
    of patients of access to good physicians simply because an
    anonymous complainant held a grudge against the physician,
    or dislikes freedom in medicine.

    TMB argued that only individual physicians had standing to
    sue. AAPS noted, however, that individuals could not
    typically prove a pattern of abuse involving other
    physicians. Moreover, physicians fear retaliation for
    complaining about the Board.

    The Court ruled that: “If practiced systemically, such
    abuses may have violated or chilled AAPS members’
    constitutional rights. Proof of these misdeeds could
    establish a pattern with evidence from the Board’s
    witnesses and files and from a small but significant sample
    of physicians.”

    One Texas physician writes: “I can’t tell you how fearful
    doctors are of the TMB. Knowing that with each disgruntled
    employee, angry neighbor, or aggressive competitor, we
    could lose our license, the practice of medicine has become
    one of fear. Thank you for your fight, and I hope many
    physicians will be sleeping more easily…at least in Texas!”

    AAPS is a national organization representing physicians in
    all specialties. The entire decision is available, as are
    the complaint, other documents, and a link to an
    audiorecording of the oral argument. See for more

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