The red stripe signifies blood

19 10 2010

Did you know that barbers once pulled teeth?

I learned that this week. I’m working on a licensing case involving barber shops and I have been researching the history of  barbers. They have a colorful past.


In the Middle Ages, monks and priests – as the most educated people in society – became the physicians of the period. One of the most common treatments for curing a variety of illnesses was bloodletting. The clergy enlisted barbers to assist them with this practice.

The rise of barber-surgeons

In 1163, Pope Alexander III forbade the clergy from drawing blood because it was sacrilegious. At that point, barbers took over the duties. They continued the practice of bloodletting, performed minor surgery and pulled teeth. For centuries, dentistry was performed only by barbers and for more than a thousand years they were known as “barber-surgeons.”

The red stripe on the barber pole represents bloody bandages

The symbol of the barber-surgeon was the striped barber pole that we still see today. The pole is thought to represent the staff that the patient would hold tightly in order for the veins in the arm to stand out during bloodletting. The white bandages used to stop bleeding were hung on the staff to dry. The stained bandages would then twist around the pole in the breeze, forming a red and white pattern. One interpretation of the colors of the modern barber pole is that red represents the blood, blue the veins, and white the bandages.

Do you just have to know more? For more interesting facts about the history of barbers, I recommend the textbook used by all barber students in Texas, which is Milady’s Standard: Professional Barbering.


Renowned surgeon charged with beating his wife – again – was stripped of license long ago

10 09 2010

Newspapers reported this week that Michael Brown has been arrested and charged with beating his fourth wife. The arrest was not his first. In 2002 he was charged with beating his third wife – who was pregnant – with a broken bedpost.

A familiar face to TV viewers

You probably recognize Brown. Until his most recent arrest, he was featured in television advertisements for his Brown Hand Centers. Surrounded by his wife and children, he told viewers that “the Brown Hand Center will care for you, just as I care for my own family.”

But he is no longer licensed to practice medicine

Brown has not been licensed to practice medicine in Texas for years. The Texas Medical Board placed him on probation following the criminal charges in 2002 and then in 2006 the Board revoked his license after he tested positive for cocaine.

Interestingly, the website for the Brown Hand Centers states that Brown is “retired” from the practice of medicine. It fails to mention that he could not practice if he wanted to. (One wonders if the Board should do something about that.)

For more details on Brown’s discipline by the Board, go the Board’s website at www. and click on the tab labeled “Look Up a Licensee.”

Dad abandons toddler, now fights to keep nursing license

23 08 2010

Sometimes a profound lapse in judgment at home can cause you to lose your professional license at work. We saw yet another example of that last week when an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) recommended revoking the license of a nurse who left his young son at home with no babysitter.

What could he have been thinking?

The nurse was scheduled to take a college examination. On the morning of the exam, his wife left their apartment to go to work. The nurse understood that his brother-in-law would come to the apartment to watch his son, who was two years and eight months old. Before his brother-in-law arrived, the nurse left the apartment, leaving his son alone in front of the television. Some time later, an employee of a pest control service entered the apartment and discovered the child alone but apparently unharmed. He called police.

The court gave the nurse a break

The police arrested the nurse and charged him with intentional abandonment of a child, a state jail felony. The nurse pled guilty to the charge, but the court deferred adjudication and placed him on community supervision for three years. Furthermore, child protection officials eventually returned custody of the boy to the nurse and his wife.

But the Nursing Board did not give him a break

However, the Texas Board of Nursing moved to revoke the nurse’s license. The nurse then requested an administrative hearing.

The law

The Board is required to revoke the license of an individual who pleads guilty to certain serious crimes, including the crime of abandoning a child.

The ALJ approved of the Board’s action to revoke the license. And he opined that the revocation made sense because the nurse’s obligations to his patients require that he exercise sound judgment and, by leaving his son alone, the nurse demonstrated a lack of sound judgment.

For more details on the case, go to the SOAH website at and search for the Proposal for Decision in SOAH Docket # 507-10-3526.

I guess “several thousand minimum standards” is not enough

16 08 2010

This week I read a decision from the Austin Court of Appeals that made my jaw drop. It described a child care center that came within a hair’s breadth of tragedy.

A trip to the swimming pool

Parent volunteers and care givers from the center took a group of children to a swimming pool. One of the children, whom the court referred to as “E,” went unnoticed to the deep end of the pool, let go of the side, and slipped under water. Eventually another child saw that E was at the bottom of the pool and a third child pulled E up from the bottom and over to the pool’s side. By this time, E’s face was blue. A lifeguard began rescue breathing, paramedics arrived and revived him, and he was flown by helicopter to an Austin hospital. Thankfully, he survived without permanent harm.

More problems

There were other lapses in supervision at this same center. For example, when a care giver took a group of children ages 6-8 on a field trip, she stopped at her apartment to get money and left the children unattended, out of her sight, and with the van’s motor running for more than a minute while she went inside.

The state stepped in

Because of these and other incidents, the state denied the owner’s application for a non-expiring permit to run the facility. But the owner requested an administrative hearing, and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that denial of the permit was too severe a sanction for the problems that had occurred. Regarding the incident at the swimming pool, the ALJ found that the center had maintained the required ratio of care givers to children and concluded that the incident was not sufficient grounds to deny the permit because “there was no neglect and the accident happened despite imperfect but reasonable and multiple layers of supervision.”

The law

Child care centers are regulated by the Department of Family and Protective Services. The court decision points out that the Department has established “several thousand minimum standards” for such facilities. Those standards address everything from record-keeping to detailed specifications regarding the physical condition of the center.

Just my opinion

I am the parent of a child who has recently spent a year at a child care center. I am thankful that the Department imposes “several thousand minimum standards” on such centers. And after reading this court decision, I think a few more wouldn’t hurt.

To learn more details about the case, go the Court’s website at and search for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services v. Drozd, case # 03-09-00507-CV.

Turning away help delivered on a silver platter

9 08 2010

Sophocles said “Chance never helps those who do not help themselves.” Those thoughts were illustrated beautifully at a recent administrative hearing for an electrician whose license is on the line because of his serial run-ins with the law.

The state took a chance on him

The Department of Licensing and Regulation gave the electrician a license in March 2009. It did so despite knowledge that he had a criminal history including these seven convictions:

• robbery with bodily injury in 1982

• misdemeanor theft by check in 1998

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2000

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor assault with injury 2001

• misdemeanor theft 2007

According to testimony of a TDLR investigator, the agency issued the license despite the convictions because it “was willing to take a chance on” the electrician.

He did not help himself

But after he was licensed, the electrician was convicted of three more crimes:

• felony theft in May 2009

• misdemeanor theft in June 2009

• felony theft in November 2009

The new convictions were more than the TDLR could bear. So it moved to revoke his license and the electrician requested a hearing.

The law

A licensing agency may revoke the license of a person who has been convicted of a crime that directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation. And the TDLR has determined that theft directly relates to the duties of an electrician.

In this case, the administrative law judge found that the TDLR’s action was justified and she agreed that the electrician’s license should be revoked.

To find out more about the case, see the Proposal for Decision in SOAH Docket NO. 452-10-3391.ELC at

Making sure your house is wired but your electrician isn’t

25 07 2010

Should the state renew the license of an electrician who has been caught stealing copper wire to support his methamphetamine habit? Maybe so, according to the recent decision of an Administrative Law Judge.

Caught stealing three times

The electrician pled guilty to stealing wire from lampposts in August and September 2008. He also pled guilty to breaking into a locked storage shed to steal a bicycle in January 2009.

Supporting a meth habit

When the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation learned about his crimes, it tried to revoke his professional license to work as an electrician in Texas. He requested a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. At that hearing, he admitted that he was not working at the time of the thefts because he was abusing methamphatemine and, therefore, could not keep a steady job.

But he is no threat to public safety now

But he also explained that he had entered, and still resided in, a drug treatment facility and he claimed that he had not abused methamphetamine in more than a year.

The judge considered the electrician’s testimony along with favorable testimony and letters from his chemical dependency counselor and others who know him. She concluded that the electrician has rehabilitated in the 18-month period since the thefts and no longer is a threat to public safety. Therefore, she recommended that he be allowed to retain his license.

But the TDLR has the last word.  And as of the date of this posting, TDLR records show that the electrician’s license has expired and has not been renewed.

For more information about the case, go to SOAH’s website at and see the Proposal for Decision in SOAH Docket No. 452-10-1268.ELC.

— D. Swanson

It’s okay for the Government to be late — but not you!

19 07 2010

The American essayist Og Mandino is credited with saying the following about being late: “There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late.” A recent administrative law case involving a Licensed Professional Counselor illustrates that perfectly.

The counselor was licensed for 19 years, dutifully renewing her license each year. By law, the licensing board was required to send her a notice 30 days before her license was to expire each year.


In 2002, the Board failed to send the renewal notice. As a result, the counselor did not renew her license and her license expired, unbeknownst to her. In 2006, she finally learned that her license had expired. At that time she applied to renew it. But the licensing board refused to renew it because it had been expired for more than one year!

Surely the courts will straighten this out – right?

The counselor sued the licensing board and argued that she should not be penalized for allowing her license to go unrenewed for a year because the board failed to send her a notice of renewal as it was required to do. Her case has been winding its way through the courts but now appears to be over. The result? She loses. In May, the Austin court of appeals ruled in favor of the board. It said that the law required the counselor to renew each year, and that requirement applied whether or not the board sent a reminder notice as it was required to do.

Moral of the story

We all have so much going on in our lives that we tend to rely on others to tell us when things are due. We rely on the dentist to tell us when it is time for a cleaning, and we rely on the government to tell us when it is time to new our various licenses and registrations. But this case shows that you must treat your professional license differently. Be vigilant about the deadline to renew your license and do not rely on your licensing agency to remind you.