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RULE §277.8Emergency Temporary Suspension or Restriction

(a) Annually, the chair of the Board shall appoint for approval by the Board a three-member disciplinary panel ("panel") and alternate, consisting of at least one public member, for the purpose of making a determination of whether a license should be temporarily suspended or restricted under Section 351.5015 of the Act. The chair shall name one of the members as chair of the panel. If a member of the panel is recused, or unable to participate in the panel, the alternate Board member may serve in the member's place.

(b) The panel shall meet to receive information on a complaint indicating that a licensee's continued practice of optometry or therapeutic optometry may constitute a continuing or imminent threat to the public welfare. At the conclusion of the meeting, if the panel concludes that the licensee's continued practice would constitute a continuing or imminent threat to the public welfare, the panel may restrict or suspend the license for a temporary, stated period of time.

(c) The disciplinary panel may hold a meeting by telephone conference call if immediate action is required and convening of the panel at one location is inconvenient for any member of the disciplinary panel.

(d) The panel may suspend a license under this section without notice or a hearing on the complaint, provided the Investigation-Enforcement Committee shall meet in an informal conference as soon as practical, to determine if formal disciplinary proceedings should be initiated against the licensee. The licensee must receive notice of the conference at least 72 hours prior to the conference.

(e) Following the informal conference, the Investigation-Enforcement Committee shall take one of the following actions:

  (1) Lift the temporary suspension or restriction and reinstate the license without conditions.

  (2) Negotiate an agreed settlement order that will dissolve, continue or modify the suspension or restriction, or impose other sanctions as appropriate. The agreed order shall be presented to the Board at the next available Board Meeting for approval.

  (3) Prepare a complaint affidavit setting out the details of the complaint and recommended sanctions, and forward the complaint affidavit to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for setting of an administrative hearing. Following the hearing, the administrative law judge will prepare a proposal for decision for adoption, in the form of an order, by the Board.

(f) The panel and the Investigation-Enforcement Committee may receive testimony and evidence in oral or written form. Written statements may be sworn or unsworn. The panel or committee members may question witnesses at the members' discretion. Evidence or information that is clearly irrelevant, unreliable, or unduly inflammatory will not be considered.

Source Note: The provisions of this §277.8 adopted to be effective September 13, 2005, 30 TexReg 5801

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