The Austin Chronicle

Robert Van Boven Remains in Limbo

Judge declines restraining order against Texas Medical Board

By Michael King, November 17, 2017, News

Dr. Robert Van Boven will have to wait a few more weeks to clear his name and resume his neurological practice. On Nov. 9, Judge Karin Crump denied the doctor's request for a temporary restraining order against the Texas Medical Board, which last month declined to act on the ruling of a state administrative judge exonerating Van Boven. Crump effectively kicked the decision back to the TMB, calling Van Boven's request "untimely" – the TMB has not yet issued a final order in the case.

At its Oct. 20 meeting, the TMB declined to make a final order concerning Van Boven, instead issuing a press release saying it "will not be pressured into a premature consideration." In February of 2016, following charges of misconduct, the TMB placed restrictions on Van Boven effectively preventing him from practicing medicine. This May, state Administrative Law Judge Hunter Burkhalter presided over a hearing on the charges, and in September issued a ruling exonerating Van Boven. The TMB can either confirm Burkhalter's decision or take the rare step of asking the Attorney General's Office to appeal to a state court.

In response to the board's failure to act, and his belief that the entire process has been in retaliation for his filing whistle­­blow­er complaints against his former employers at Lakeway Regional Medical Center (now Bay­lor Scott & White Medical Center – Lake­way), Van Boven filed suit against the TMB, charging retaliation, lack of due process, and a "civil conspiracy."

Asked for a response to the latest events, TMB spokesman Jarrett Schneider offered, "The Board is in compliance with all applicable laws, including opening meeting requirements, and will allow full due process to all parties in regards to this case." He said they "will act on the administrative decision at its December meeting."

Van Boven has also taken his fight to state officials, and Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, has twice written TMB President Dr. Sherif Zaafran, asking the board to issue an order confirming the doctor's exoneration. Zedler accused TMB staff of acting without legal authority, said TMB "needs to immediately rescind the unlawful emergency Tem­po­rary Restric­tion, expunge Dr. Van Boven's record, retract the report of the void action to the National Practitioner Data­base, and hold [TMB] staff accountable for falsely invoking legal authority of the Medical Practice Act to convene" a suspension hearing.

The TMB's next meeting is Dec. 7-8. Last week, Van Boven told the Chronicle, "I'm extremely optimistic that my nightmare will end, and the TMB will issue a ruling in compliance with the law, in complete agreement with the rulings of the administrative judge."

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