You spent years expanding your knowledge and skills. You invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure your medical license and establish yourself as a licensed professional with the Illinois Board of Medicine. When someone makes an accusation of wrongdoing against you, the license you worked so hard for—along with your career and your financial health—is in jeopardy. Getting a notice of a complaint from the Medical Board can rock your world. You may feel slighted, frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed by the uphill battle you are facing. But you shouldn't face this battle alone. You need a team of experienced defense attorneys fighting on your side. You need the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team.
We represent physicians in Chicago, Aurora, Joliet, Springfield, Peoria, and throughout Illinois and the U.S. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain legal counsel from the Lento Law Firm and begin building a strong defense in your case today.
Valuing Your Illinois Physician's License
The stakes are high when dealing with a threat against your professional license in Illinois. The Illinois Medical Board takes complaints seriously and will thoroughly investigate them. If the board decides that disciplinary action is in order, it can suspend or revoke your license. You will be unable to practice medicine in the state of Illinois until—or unless—the matter is resolved.
Similar to criminal charges, disciplinary charges are allegations of misconduct. They do not mean a Medical Board member has officially decided you committed the act. They are legally obligated to give you the opportunity to defend yourself—and you must do so as soon as you get notice of a complaint. Retaining a Lento Law Firm license defense attorney can help you provide the evidence required to completely absolve you or lessen the impact on your career and future.
You invested considerable time, effort, and money into obtaining your medical degree, passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and obtaining your license to practice in the state of Illinois. You work hard and have established a good career and a strong reputation. Your job provides financial, personal, and professional rewards. It's worth defending should someone make a complaint against your professional name.
Protect your professional license to practice as a physician in Illinois. Retain the services of the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Attorney Team today.
Illinois Medical Board Rules and Standards
The Illinois Medical Practice Act is an essential state law that oversees the practice of medicine in the state. The act expires on a regular basis, which enables the legislature to ensure that the law stays current on medical practices. The act authorizes the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to make rules that govern the practice of medicine in Illinois in regard to physicians with medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), or doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degrees or students studying for these degrees. The act is primarily concerned with licensure and discipline.
The act specifies many details regarding the licensure of medical professionals, including:
- Requirements for medical education and fitness for licensure;
- Licensure fees and how they may be used;
- Terms of each license and conditions for renewal;
- Continuing medical education requirements; and
- General terms under which medical students, residents, and visiting physicians may practice.
The act also establishes the Medical Licensing Board to advise IDFPR on the qualifications of applicants.
The act specifies many details regarding how the Board disciplines medical professionals, including:
- What disciplinary action may be taken by IDFPR, including restriction, suspension, or revocation of member licenses;
- Fines the IDFPR may levy in addition to any disciplinary action;
- Requirements for confidentiality materials related to disciplinary proceedings; and
- 48 specific grounds for discipline.
The act also sets standards for reporting physician impairment or other actions that may warrant discipline against a licensed physician. These include:
- Requirements detailing what entities and practitioners must report;
- Penalties for failing to report; and
- Confidentiality requirements and legal protections for reporting entities or practitioners.
The act also establishes the Medical Disciplinary Board to review complaints against Illinois physicians accused of violating the act, conduct hearings, and recommend disciplinary action.
The Medical Licensing Board and the Medical Disciplinary Board are part of the Illinois Medical Board. The Medical Board has 17 members, all of whom the governor appoints. Twelve members are physicians with representatives of the osteopathic and chiropractic branches, including two physician assistants and three members of the public.
What Allegations Put an Illinois Physician License at Risk?
The Illinois Medical Practices Act identifies 48 specific grounds for discipline against physicians in the state. Under the act, the IDFPR gives the Illinois Board of Medicine the authority to "suspend, place on probation, reprimand, refuse to issue or renew, or take any other disciplinary or non-disciplinary action as the Department may deem proper with regard to the license or permit of any person issued under this Act, including imposing fines not to exceed $10,000 for each violation." These grounds for discipline include:
- Conviction of a felony
- Gross negligence
- Dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public
- Obtaining any fee by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
- Habitual or excessive use or abuse of drugs, alcohol, or any substance which results in the inability to practice with reasonable judgment, skill, or safety
- Practicing under a false or assumed name
- Fraud or misrepresentation in applying for or procuring a license
- Making false or misleading statements regarding skill or the efficacy value of medicine, treatment, or remedy prescribed under their direction in the treatment of any disease or condition of the body or mind
- Allowing another person or organization to use their license
- Having an adverse action taken by another state, jurisdiction, or state or federal agency that prohibits the physician from providing services
- Violation of any provision of the Medical Practice Act
- Patient abandonment
- Prescribing, selling, administering, distributing, or self-administering any drug classified as a controlled substance or narcotic for other than medically accepted therapeutic purposes.
- Immoral conduct
- Falsifying records or reports to support claims against the medical assistance
- Willful omission to file or record, or impeding the filing or recording of medical records or an instance of suspected abuse or neglect
- Being named as a perpetrator in an indicated Department of Children and Family Services report under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
- Gross and willful and continued overcharging for professional services, including filing false statements for collection of fees for which services are not rendered.
- A pattern of practice or other behavior which demonstrates incapacity or incompetence to practice under this act
- Mental illness or disability which results in the inability to practice with reasonable judgment, skill, or safety
- Physical illness, including deterioration through the aging process or loss of motor skills which results in a physician's inability to practice under this act with reasonable judgment, skill, or safety
- Cheating on or attempting to cheat on the licensing examinations
What Is the Disciplinary Process for the Illinois Medical Board?
The disciplinary process can take weeks or months to resolve. The board must undertake this important and necessary process to keep within its own standards. But, the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that all states—and by extension, the Illinois Medical Board—give you due process. In other words, the board must notify you of the charges against you and offer you a fair opportunity to defend yourself before they deprive you of the liberty and property interest, such as your physician license. The Illinois Medical Board's complaint-handling procedure is as follows:
Initial Allegations & Complaints
Initial allegations against a physician result in a preliminary analysis by the board to determine whether a further investigation is warranted. In order to trigger further investigation, the initial claim must present a potential violation of Section 22 of the Act. It shouldn't be barred by the statute of limitations or precluded by some other issue, such as the complainant's refusal to provide necessary medical records so that an investigation may be conducted or completed. The Chief of Medical Investigations determines within 30 days whether an initial claim becomes a formal complaint.
Initial claims against physicians and physician assistants may be in writing, by telephone, or in person. All initial claims shall be recorded by the Division and forwarded to the Chief of Medical Investigations for review. Upon receipt of an initial claim, the Division will provide complainants with the following:
- A brochure that provides information about the complaint process, the role of the Division, the reasons for disciplinary action, and other commonly asked questions, along with verification that an initial claim was received and forwarded to the Chief of Medical Investigations.
- The opportunity to review the Division's characterization of the initial claim and indicate any areas believed to be inaccurate.
- Information as to why an initial claim will not become a complaint (if the chief of Medical Investigations deems it is not a valid violation of the act) and a final opportunity to correct any deficiencies in the initial claim.
After review, the Chief of Medical Investigations will determine whether an initial claim will become a complaint. At any time during an investigation, the board may enter into negotiations to resolve issues informally through a consent order. Factors the board may consider in deciding whether to enter settlement negotiations shall include, but not be limited to:
- sufficient investigation of the case;
- whether there was physical harm or injury to a patient;
- relative severity of the respondent's alleged conduct; and,
- past practices of the board
If an initial claim does not become a complaint, then the Chief of Medical Investigations will submit their determination and any accompanying analysis of the initial claim to the Complaint Committee with a recommendation for closure.
No initial claim or complaint can be closed without the recommendation of the Complaint Committee and approval by the Disciplinary Board.
If, after review, the Chief of Medical Investigations, in conjunction with a Medical Coordinator, determines that a complaint is ready for immediate consideration by the Complaint Committee for prosecution potential, the complaint moves into the Informal Conference.
An informal conference is a procedure the board uses to resolve complaints, licensing issues, or conflicts before initiating any action requiring a formal hearing. Informal conferences are for compliance review, fact-finding, and discussion of the issues.
The board will send the physician notice of an informal conference at least 10 days before the conference is scheduled. The notice includes a brief statement of the alleged violations. A Board attorney conducts informal conferences and includes a Disciplinary Board member or their designee.
The physician may bring an attorney or other representative to the informal conference. During the informal conference, the physician has the opportunity to make an oral statement and present any documents that might be relevant to the matter.
Informal conferences result in the Disciplinary Board member making a recommendation to the board of one or more of the following:
- The case be closed.
- The case be investigated further.
- A consent order be entered.
- The matter be referred for a formal hearing.
If the Chief of Medical Prosecutions takes action to recommend that a consent order be entered into, every reasonable effort will be made to forward the consent order within 15 days to the physician. The physician must sign and return the consent order to the board within 30 days. If the physician does not return the consent order within that time, the board will presume that the physician does not wish to enter into the consent order.
The consent order may include disciplinary actions and/or non-disciplinary actions.
Disciplinary actions the board may take may include:
Non-disciplinary actions the board may take may include:
- Remedial continuing medical education
- Referral to treatment
- Administrative warning
Upon receipt of the proposed consent order, the Disciplinary Board will likely take action on the consent order at the next scheduled Disciplinary Board meeting, but not later than 120 days after receipt of the executed consent order. During that meeting, the board will either sign or reject the consent order with or without recommendations.
A copy of any consent order signed by the Disciplinary Board will be sent to the Director for action within 10 days. Upon receipt, the Director will take one of the following actions on the consent order within 15 days.
- Sign the consent order;
- Return the consent order to the Disciplinary Board with recommended changes or alternative action; or
- Enter into a consent order different from that recommended by the Disciplinary Board.
A copy of any consent order executed by the Director will be sent to the board within 15 days.
If an initial allegation results in a formal complaint against the physician, and if the physician disagrees with the consent order, the licensee may dispute the charges at a formal administrative hearing within 15 days of receiving notice of the accusation. The licensee will also have the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel at all stages of these proceedings.
An Administrative Law Judge presides over the hearing, which runs similarly to a court trial, with both sides giving opening arguments, presenting evidence, providing witness testimony, and giving closing arguments. After the hearing, the judge enters a recommended decision. The Medical Disciplinary Board has the authority to either affirm or reject the judge's decision. The Medical Board's Director has the ultimate authority to adopt the board's recommended decision.
Legal Actions the Illinois Medical Board Can Take
If the Illinois Medical Board determines the physician committed wrongdoing, it may take any of several forms of disciplinary action, such as:
- License revocation
- License suspension
- Voluntary surrendering of a license
- License probation
Minor violations and offenses of the Medical Practice Act may result in fines and citations through an informal process.
The board may summarily suspend a physician's license on an emergency basis if the board believes, based on the alleged facts supported by evidence, the physician poses an immediate danger to the health and safety of patients. The Chief of Medical Prosecutions must sign summary suspensions after consultation with the Medical Coordinator or the Deputy Medical Coordinator. The summary suspension must then be presented to the Director either in person or by telephone and in the presence of a court reporter.
A notice of summary suspension must accompany the order and must:
- Set a hearing date within 15 days of the date when the order takes effect;
- Name the hearing officer who will conduct the hearing; and
- Include a copy of the Board's Practice in Administrative Hearings.
The board also has the authority to issue a summary suspension on a physician the board deems is in need of mental treatment.
Appeals to Circuit Court
The Illinois Medical Board Director's decision is the IDFPR's final order. However, the licensee can initiate an appeal in the appropriate circuit court under the Administrative Review Law. The circuit court judge will either affirm or reverse the Director's decision. Physicians can further appeal this ruling to the appellate court.
How a Physician License Defense Attorney Can Help You in Illinois
As a state agency, the Illinois Medical Board has extensive resources to investigate and prosecute alleged offenses against its members. They know what it takes to implicate and discipline physicians. Without a deep knowledge of administrative law and a background in professional license defense, the odds will be stacked against you if you intend to fight this battle on your own.
The Illinois Medical Board only needs to establish charges by a preponderance of the evidence rather than by reasonable doubt. This means that the board only needs to demonstrate the likelihood that you committed the offense. To counter this, your defense counsel must present substantial evidence supporting your innocence, equivalent to the evidence the board has accumulated against you. You need an experienced license defense attorney to guide you through the board's disciplinary process and protect your rights and your license.
By retaining the services of a Professional License Defense attorney from the Lento Law Firm, you will have someone who can assist you in responding to the accusations. Your defense attorney can establish lines of communication with Illinois Medical Board officials to informally present evidence and arguments in your defense. We will work toward early dismissal or abandonment of the charges and can facilitate negotiations involving voluntary resolutions. Moreover, we will assist in gathering exonerating evidence or identifying mitigating factors that may lessen the severity of disciplinary actions. We will advocate on your behalf during administrative hearings and, if needed, can assist you in appealing the board's decision or challenging any determinations they make regarding your profession by taking appropriate legal action.
Areas We Serve in Illinois
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team represents physicians throughout Illinois, including those who practice in the following major cities:
We represent physicians who have practiced at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Chicago Medical Center, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Loyola University Medical Center, or any medical facility in Illinois.
License Defense Team for Illinois Physician Charges
As a physician in Illinois, your professional license is one of your most valuable assets. If someone accuses you of wrongdoing and you face disciplinary action by the Illinois Medical Board, your career, reputation, and livelihood are at risk. Don't fight this battle on your own. Call on the experienced Physician License Defense Attorneys at the Lento Law Firm. We have represented hundreds of other physicians and licensed professionals like you in Illinois and across the nation in professional board disciplinary actions. You can trust the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to fight for you. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain the experienced Professional License Defense Team in Illinois.