You've worked hard to get where you are as a licensed certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in Illinois. It takes years of education, training, and experience to become a CRNA. As an essential part of the healthcare community, you hold a special place of trust in our society, caring for people at their most vulnerable. After spending years developing your professional reputation, an allegation of professional misconduct can devastate your career. Even the allegation of misconduct and the subsequent investigation, potentially involving your coworkers and colleagues, can damage your professional reputation. That's why you need the skilled Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm to protect your rights and your license. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
Licensing for CRNAs in Illinois
In Illinois, all registered nurses and CRNAs in the state are licensed and regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Illinois's state Board of Nursing falls under the IDFPR.
CRNA Licensing in Illinois
In Illinois, nurse anesthetists need an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The IDFPR handles the licensing, applications, and renewals for registered nurses (RNs) and APNs in the state. To become an APN in Illinois, you need:
- A current RN license,
- At least one year of experience in critical care nursing,
- Completion of a master's degree program certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
- Completion of the examination administered by the AANA Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists
- Your complete work history since completing your APN or CRNA program,
- Proof of licensing in any state where you are now or have been licensed, and
- An application fee.
In Illinois, there are five CRNA programs in the state, including:
- Millikin University and Decatur Memorial Hospital Nurse Anesthesia Program
- Northshore University Health System School of Nurse Anesthesia at Depaul University
- Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Nurse Anesthesia Program
- Rush University College of Nursing Nurse Anesthesia Program
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Nursing, Anesthesia Nursing Specialization
RN Licensing in Illinois
To obtain your RN license in Illinois, you'll need to:
- Complete a bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing,
- Apply for licensure by examination through the IDFPR, and
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NLCEX-RN),
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you can work under the supervision of an RN or APN until you are fully licensed by the IDFPR.
Professional Standards for CRNA and APNs in Illinois
The IDFPR ensures that all Illinois nurses, including CRNAs and APNs, follow the Nurse Practice Act and its regulations. These laws and regulations ensure the public safety. Violating any standards under the state's Nurse Practicing Act can result in disciplinary action in Illinois. If someone files an allegation of professional misconduct against you, the IDFPR must investigate the complaint and take action if needed.
Illinois holds nurses to the highest professional and ethical standards. So, the state takes allegations of misconduct seriously. Some of the most common serious professional misconduct violations include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse: using alcohol or drugs to excess, particularly while working, can result in a serious misconduct charge.
- Drug mismanagement: Diverting or stealing medications from patients, careless handling, unauthorized prescriptions, and failing to comply with drug administration rules can result in misconduct charges.
- Sexual misconduct: Sexual assault, inappropriate sexual behavior, and sexual harassment are all professional violations. Having a sexual or romantic relationship with a patient is also forbidden.
- Abuse or neglect: Mistreating a patient, endangering a patient, or caring for a patient in line with professional standards can result in misconduct allegations.
- Fraud: Improperly billing insurance or a patient for procedures not performed, fraud in an application to the nursing board, misrepresenting your qualifications, or exceeding the scope of your license can all result in disciplinary action.
You can also face disciplinary action if you fail to report an arrest or conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor that qualifies as a crime of “moral turpitude” to the nursing board.
The Disciplinary Process for CRNAs and APNs in Illinois
If a patient, coworker, colleague, or employer makes a complaint about you to the IDFPR, they must thoroughly investigate the claim. However, you can expect all disciplinary complaints and investigations to follow the same procedure and format from complaint, to investigation, to hearing and a decision.
The disciplinary process begins with a complaint to the IDFPR. Once received, the IDFPR will determine if they have jurisdiction over the complaint and whether or not the allegations, if true, qualify as professional misconduct. After processing the complaint, the IDFPR will send you a written notification and a copy of the complaint.
Investigating CRNA Misconduct Allegations in Illinois
The next step in the disciplinary process involves an investigation of the complaint. The IDFPR will appoint an investigator who will contact the complainant and any possible witnesses. They will also gather evidence and documents relevant to the complaint and may issue document subpoenas. The investigator will also contact you for an interview or send you questions or interrogatories to answer in writing. If the investigator determines that there isn't enough evidence to support the complaint, the IDFPR may close the case. However, the case may move forward if the investigator believes there is enough evidence to support the allegations.
It's never a good idea to ignore a complaint from the IDFPR. You also need to cooperate with any request for documents or evidence from an investigator. Many CRNAs believe they can easily clear up a misunderstanding by speaking to an investigator and explaining the context of a complaint. In some cases, this may be true. But when an IDFPR or nursing board investigator contacts you, it's important to be cautious. The IDFPR can use anything you say or answer in writing against you in a disciplinary hearing down the road. That's why you need the skilled Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm to protect your rights from the beginning of the investigatory process.
Formal CRNA Misconduct Complaints
If the IDFPR decides to proceed with a complaint against you after the investigation, they will refer the action to a department attorney for review. If the prosecutor determines there is probable cause based on the investigation, the IDFPR will issue a formal complaint. They will send you a formal written notice with a summons to appear before the department.
Informal CRNA Disciplinary Conferences in Illinois
Before proceeding to a formal hearing, the department may offer an informal resolution process. You and your attorney may appear at a conference with the IDFPR to find a settlement agreeable to both parties. As part of this, you may agree to a consent order that sets forth agreed-upon disciplinary action. Or the parties may agree to dismiss the complaint.
If the department offers you an informal conference resolution, and you agree to a consent order, you may waive your right to later challenge the decision in a formal hearing or on appeal. That's why you should never agree to a consent order without a review by the Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team.
Formal CRNA Disciplinary Hearings in Illinois
If you can't come to an agreement with the IDFPR during an informal conference, the next step is a formal hearing. You'll receive a written notice and summons to appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the hearing. At the hearing, the prosecutor for the department will present the case, and you will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and present your own evidence and witnesses to the court. The ALJ will then issue a “Report and Recommendations” based on the evidence and witnesses presented in the formal hearing. After reviewing the report, the IDFPR will decide whether to adopt the findings and suggestions of the ALJ in whole or in part and issue a final decision on the complaint against you and any disciplinary consequences.
Penalties for CRNA and APN Misconduct in Illinois
If the IDFPR finds you responsible for misconduct, you could lose your CRNA or APN license in Illinois. However, the department has a wide range of punishments they can implement that are less serious than revocation of your license, including:
- License suspension for a predetermined amount of time,
- Restrictions on your license limiting your scope of practice or requiring supervision,
- Fining you,
- Requiring remedial professional education or training as a condition of keeping your license,
- Requiring a treatment program for drug or alcohol abuse,
- Requiring counseling,
- Issuing a formal reprimand or letter of concern, or
- Issuing a formal warning, which may not appear on your professional record.
Not all professional misconduct allegations will result in a serious penalty like suspension or revocation of your license. However, most disciplinary decisions of the ILDFPR are public. This means that even minor penalties or letters of censure can do serious damage to your professional reputation. That's why you need the Lento Law Firm's seasoned Professional License Defense Team with you through every step of the disciplinary process.
Appealing an Illinois CRNA or APN License Disciplinary Action
After the formal hearing, you'll have 20 days to request a rehearing if you disagree with the decision. After that, the department's director will make a final decision. Once you've exhausted your administrative remedies, you can appeal to your local circuit court.
To appeal to the circuit court, you must do so within 35 days of the final IDFPR decision. On appeal, the court will not hear the case from the beginning or de novo. Instead, you can appeal on the basis that:
- The IDFPR violated its rules or due process in making the disciplinary decision,
- The decision was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion, or
- The decision wasn't supported by substantial evidence.
“Substantial evidence” sounds like the agency needs a great deal of evidence, but it means enough evidence that a reasonable person would find adequate to support the decision.
How the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact Impacts Nursing Complaints
Thirty-four states in the U.S. belong to the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). The eNLC is a multistate agreement allowing nurses, including CRNAs and APNs, to obtain a multistate license to practice in any other state participating in the compact. Illinois is not yet a participant in the eNLC. However, it's important to understand that disciplinary action against your CRNA license in Illinois can affect your ability to become licensed in other states.
Disciplinary actions are also reported to Nursys, a national reporting database for nurse licensing. If you have a license in another state and face disciplinary action, the Illinois Nursing Board will have access to the information reported to Nursys. The Illinois Nursing Board can and will impose additional sanctions for disciplinary actions against your license in another state.
You Need an Experienced Professional License Defense Team
If you're a certified registered nurse anesthetist or advanced practice nurse in Illinois facing a complaint or allegation of professional misconduct, you don't have to handle the issue on your own. Ignoring an investigation from the Illinois Nursing Board can also have serious consequences for your career. It can lead to a default judgment against you and the loss of your nursing license. You need the skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm to protect your rights, license, and professional reputation.
Our experienced Team has been representing nurses and CRNAs nationwide for years, and we can help you, too. We can help you answer a complaint from the IDFPR, develop your defense, negotiate with the department, represent you in settlement conferences, formal hearings before an administrative law judge, and appeals. Call the Team today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.