A court defeat for the Texas Medical Board is changing policies—and minds.
As we have reported previously, when integrative practitioners treat the whole patient, their treatments often challenge traditional models of medicine. State medical boards are aligned with the American Medical Association’s brand of allopathic medicine. Because of this, they have historically been biased against complementary and alternative medicine—to the point that they not infrequently target practitioners specifically for practicing a higher standard of care.
But the tide is turning, according to attorney Jacques Simon. Simon represented Bill J. Rea, MD, in a stunning legal victory against the Texas Medical Board (TMB). The suit has helped shift bad board practices in Texas.
Jacques Simon has an outstanding success rate defending integrative medical doctors in these types of proceedings. He is one of four attorneys in the US who collaborate and specialize in this area. (The others are Alan Dumoff, Algis Augustine, and Richard Jaffe.)
Dr. Rea is a leading researcher and clinician in the field of environmental medicine and chemical sensitivity. For the past thirty years, he has treated illness caused by food and wide-ranging environmental factors such as air and water pollution. In 2005, the Texas Medical Board filed a number of charges against Dr. Rea, challenging his testing, diagnosis, and treatment—everything he does. They even claimed that Dr. Rea was injecting his patients with diesel fuel and harmful chemicals, a charge that was patently false.
After three long years in court, Simon was able to prove that the Board’s claims were unsubstantiated. Instead of revoking his license, the Board lamely told Dr. Rea to present a revised informed consent form to patients saying that his therapy is not “FDA approved.”
If you are a physician and under investigation, it is important to make no statement whatsoever to investigators or officials without the presence and approval of a lawyer. As Simon told us, “When an investigation starts, it is important for the physician not to make the mistake of thinking they are the authority in the field. Pick up the phone and call an attorney who specializes in these types of proceedings.” (Feel free to contact ANH-USA for a recommendation.)
Simon noted that the TMB has targeted integrative physicians in the past, but this has shifted in the last two or three years, and it appears they now investigate an equal number of traditional MDs. This is due in part to procedural actions taken by Dr. Rea through the course of his ordeal, which including filing charges against the board itself.
Texas has strong due process protections for doctors, but those rules are not always followed. ANH-USA is working to get a bill introduced in the Texas legislature that will provide physicians with redress if the board doesn’t follow its own rules. Jacques Simon notes that the more doctors fight back (and the more the boards are educated), the better the landscape will become in state medical board proceedings. Meanwhile, state laws and regulations are constantly changing, and it is important to remain vigilant.
ANH-USA has just released an 80-page report, “Know Your State’s Medical Board: An Integrative Medical Practitioner’s Guide to Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Environments in the 50 States.” Across the nation, state laws and regulations do not always adequately protect practitioners’ due process rights in medical board disciplinary proceedings, so we have created a guide and checklist to provide a general sense of the legal protections, or lack thereof, available in each state in the country. The report is available as a PDF document, and may be downloaded here.