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IL license defense lawyerEven after all the effort that doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and therapists put into getting educated, credentialed, and approved to practice, they face ongoing hurdles to maintain their ability to practice the healing arts. One of these hurdles is the requirement to maintain continuing education requirements. As the body of research from every field grows and expands, our knowledge about every area of professional practice has the potential to grow and expand accordingly; therefore, licensed medical practitioners of all kinds are required to continue learning about their field.

Licensed professionals are required to self-report how they are meeting their continuing education requirements; for example, every three years, physicians have to attest to having completed 150 hours of continuing medical education credits before renewing their licenses.

However, from time to time professional licensing boards will randomly choose individuals to audit for a complete verification of the ongoing education. If an audited individual has not truly completed the continuing education or has not kept good records of their compliance, their ability to practice their trade may be compromised.

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IL defense lawyerGetting a nursing license is a major accomplishment; not only does a prospective nurse have to go through years of school, but she must also pass extremely challenging tests and then apply for a license in the state in which she wishes to practice. Unfortunately, even if a student has excellent grades and performs well on the board examinations, she may be surprised to find her nursing license has been denied anyway. If you are in this situation, read on to learn why a nursing license may be denied and how you can get help from a professional license defense attorney.

Prior Convictions

Certain crimes can allow IDFPR to deny an applicant’s license. While disclosed crimes rarely cause this, if the board finds out about an undisclosed crime, they can and will bar someone from getting their license until there is a satisfactory explanation. In a worst case scenario, they may see the lack of disclosure as an attempt to defraud the licensing board rather than an honest mistake. However, certain crimes are an automatic bar from getting a nursing license, including crimes that require registration as a sex offender and certain crimes against children or patients. It is important to have help with the appeals process so you have the best chance of presenting a good explanation for any disclosure mistakes.

Out-of-State Disciplinary Issues

If you recently moved to Illinois after having your license sanctioned in another state, the IDFPR may deny your license application in Illinois. Because your license applications are processed using your fingerprints and other personal data, the IDFPR has access to an extensive amount of information about your criminal and personal history. Criminal behavior or license disciplinary issues in other states may appear in a background search and prevent you from getting your current nursing license approved.

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IL license defenseGetting a real estate license in Illinois is no easy feat. In addition to licensing courses, exams, and completing training with a sponsoring broker, there is endless ongoing research into market trends, local housing prices, and government regulations. The threat of losing one’s real estate license because of a criminal conviction or for any other reason could mean years of hard work and personal investment gone to waste. If you are facing sanctions to your professional real estate license, make sure you speak with an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Crimes That Can Trigger Real Estate License Sanctions

Many crimes are serious enough to allow sanctions against a real estate license, and some may even prevent someone from getting their license in the first place. Although the crimes are not limited to those related to real estate, crimes that are connected to real estate in any way are top of the list. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial crimes, such as embezzlement, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, failing to pay state taxes, or robbery
  • Fraudulent crimes, such as forgery, identity theft, writing bad checks, or bank fraud

However, other crimes can land you in serious trouble as well. These include arson, rape, theft, assault, perjury, and more. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to have a competent criminal defense attorney as well as a professional license defense attorney.

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IL license defense lawyerSeveral American nurses lost their jobs recently after they posted a video on social media describing the things they dislike about their jobs in labor and delivery. Even after the original posting was deleted, the video continued to make its way around the internet, leaving the nurses who originally posted it with no way to take it back or to get their faces out of the news.

This incident highlights the pitfalls of social media use for healthcare professionals, who, while certainly being entitled to their opinions about their job and patients, are at a heightened risk of professional sanctions for sharing those opinions publicly. Experts who advise healthcare professionals on how to use social media wisely have several tips for avoiding behaviors that could potentially open one up to criticism and even professional disciplinary measures.

Maintain Patient Privacy

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many professionals inadvertently give out private patient information on social media by discussing specific cases without adequately protecting the patient’s anonymity. In addition to ensuring you never violate HIPAA laws, even the people you work with should be unable to identify certain patients from your social media discussions. The more people talk openly about a specific case, the more likely it is the patient will be identified.

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IL defense lawyerDentists spend many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn the skill of dentistry. When taking into account the bureaucratic labor and fees, office and equipment financing, and staffing costs associated with setting up a practice, dental professionals have often invested enormous amounts of time and money by the time they are actually practicing on patients.

Unfortunately, this investment does not protect dentists from accusations of misconduct. Even when such accusations are entirely unfounded, dentists may face an uphill battle defending themselves from allegations of fraud, abuse, or other inappropriate behaviors. If you know or are worried that you may be facing an investigation for allegations against you, your hard work deserves to be protected by an excellent professional license defense attorney.

What Kind of Behaviors Can Cause a Dentist to be Investigated?

Every state has a board responsible for overseeing and regulating dentists. In Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Dentistry and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) work in tandem to ensure dentists are compliant with state laws and that any accusations against a dentist are investigated thoroughly.

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IL defense lawyerStudies estimate that more than 40 percent of doctors will be sued during their careers. As America becomes increasingly litigious, doctors can expect that rate to go up - and so can other healthcare professionals. Nurses, dentists, psychologists, social workers, and any other healthcare worker is at risk of any number of accusations - many of which may be partly false, unfounded, or stem from the accuser’s own mental unwellness.

Even in cases involving obviously false allegations, healthcare practitioners can find themselves defending their cause in front of their regulating board, to say nothing of the impact such allegations can have on the professional’s standing in their family and community. If you have been accused of any wrongdoing, it is crucial to retain experienced legal representation right away.

What Kind of False Accusations Can Healthcare Workers Face?

Medicine is a complex area of employment that involves interactions with patients, coworkers, financial processors, and more. Healthcare employees may face false accusations for a virtually limitless number of reasons, including, but not limited to:

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IL license defense lawyerSocial workers play a crucial role in helping people work through their problems and become effective, well-adjusted members of society. Whether social workers practice in child welfare agencies, addiction services, schools, or private practices, they help vulnerable people and communities deal with real-world problems.

Unfortunately, because of the often public-facing nature of their job, social workers often find themselves targeted by dissatisfied clients, parents, or coworkers. Social workers also carry the burden of performing professionally at a very high standard, protecting vulnerable people even at the expense of their own needs or desires. Sometimes, social workers make mistakes that jeopardize their ability to practice their profession; other times, they are unfairly singled out for retaliation. Whatever the allegations against you, if you are a social worker facing accusations of ethical misconduct, negligence, or other misbehavior, you need the help of an Illinois professional license defense attorney.

What Kind of Behaviors Are Considered Ethical Misconduct?

Social workers have to be cautious in their actions towards clients and clients’ families. Behaviors that are intended to be harmless may be easily misconstrued, especially by those who struggle with mental health issues, and even the most well–intentioned professional can make mistakes. Common complaints against social workers that can result in investigations and sanctions include, but are not limited to:

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IL license defense lawyerAccusations of Medicare fraud or abuse can have a significant impact on a healthcare provider’s ability to practice his or her profession. In addition to limiting the kinds of patients a provider can serve, Medicare provider revocation can be involved without other sanctions that may prevent a doctor from practicing altogether and may involve hefty fines. In one recent example, a Kentucky doctor was fined $720,000 and suspended from federal healthcare programs for fifteen years for submitting false claims to Medicare and Violating the False Claims Act.

If you are facing accusations of Medicare fraud, you need experienced, aggressive legal counsel to help you manage the investigation in your favor. If you have already had your Medicare provider status revoked or suspended, a professional license defense attorney may be able to help you get your privileges back.

Why Would Medicare Provider Status Be Revoked or Suspended?

Because Medicare is a government program and the government relies on trustworthy practitioners to provide excellent medical care to potentially vulnerable patients, investigators with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are motivated to find and investigate those who may be acting in ways that are not conducive to Medicare’s overall aims. A healthcare provider may face suspension, permanent revocation, or a reenrollment bar for many reasons, including:

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Il defense attorneyPsychologists face a tremendous amount of responsibility as they attempt to treat patients for some of the most complex, difficult-to-understand mental illnesses imaginable. Although many psychologists help patients overcome difficulties and learn to manage mental illness in a safe, productive way, other times a psychologist’s professional practice may lead patients to further harm. In the most extreme cases, patients may take their own lives, potentially exposing the psychologist to professional discipline for their treatment methods.

If you are being accused of contributing to a patient’s suicide, it is essential to take these accusations seriously and to enlist help in defending your professional license. Even if you are convinced you did nothing wrong, you may be subjected to an investigation that could threaten your ability to practice.

Can a Psychologist Be Penalized For Certain Kinds of Practices?

While some professionals may understandably feel that a psychologist’s style of practice should remain between the psychologist and his or her patients (and perhaps the patient’s parents), professional guidelines and laws prohibit certain types of treatment. In one notable example from several years ago, a psychologist lost her license after incorrectly diagnosing an 11-year-old child with Reactive Attachment Disorder and making bizarre and unethical treatment recommendations, after which the child committed suicide.

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IL medical license defense lawyerMany different healthcare professionals need hospital admitting privileges. While doctors are perhaps most commonly thought of as using hospitals to practice medicine, other professionals, such as nurses who work in birthing centers next to hospitals, need admitting privileges, too. Not being able to admit patients to a hospital could put patients at risk of serious injury or death, and healthcare workers simply may not be able to do their job without hospital admitting privileges. Unfortunately, loss of hospital privileges can happen for a number of reasons. If you are being threatened with loss of admitting privileges or have already lost your admitting privileges, make sure you work closely with an Illinois medical license defense attorney.

Why Do Healthcare Professionals Lose Hospital Admitting Privileges?

People lose hospital admitting privileges for many reasons, although the most common are for issues related to not following hospital protocol and accusations of providing poor patient care. However, other reasons - such as abuse toward colleagues or falling short on an improvement agreement designed to increase the standard of your practice - may trigger the loss of admitting privileges as well.

If you have had your medical license suspended, you will need to work on getting that reinstated before you can gain admitting privileges again. You may need to complete a waiting period, a substance abuse program, or submit a reactivation application.

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IL DEA defense lawyerOne of the ways the government is trying to respond to the urgent national opioid epidemic is by sending the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) after practitioners suspected of overprescribing opioids to patients. While there are many doctors who have rightfully been investigated and held responsible for overprescribing opioids, others have gotten caught in the cogs of a machine that is desperately trying to prove that it is doing something - whether that something is actually helpful or not.

Even if you are certain you are not guilty of overprescribing opioids to your patients, it is essential to take an investigation by the DEA seriously. If the Illinois medical board is concurrently conducting a separate investigation, the DEA’s findings may influence that investigation. While you may not have violated any laws regarding opioid prescriptions, the board may be interested in other potential violations, in distancing itself from you for other reasons, or in responding to a complaint that is a result of a personal vendetta. No matter the reason, you need to take an investigation seriously and have a professional license defense attorney’s help.

What Should I Do if I Am Being Investigated by the DEA?

First, of course, you should hire an attorney who can guide you throughout the investigation. Do not speak with investigators, your employer, or anyone else about the investigation until you have first spoken with an attorney who can advise you on what to say. Even speaking with a close colleague or spouse could be risky, as that person could be subpoenaed and asked questions about your conversations.

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IL medical license lawyerStandards for doctor-patient relationships are understandably high. Doctors and other healthcare workers are in a position of authority over their patients, and a doctor who is found to have engaged in an inappropriate doctor-patient relationship may be at risk of losing his license. In addition to putting themselves at risk of accusations of medical malpractice, deviating from the standard of care by having even a voluntary relationship with a patient can be an act of negligence by medical professionals. Of course, acts of sexual assault or violence against a patient can similarly result in sanctions against licensure, as well as criminal investigations and punishments.

However, medical practitioners are people and people make mistakes. Furthermore, while practitioners are generally permitted to have consensual relationships with former patients, there may be a question as to whether the professional relationship was legitimately terminated prior to the relationship taking place. If you are a medical professional facing sanctions for allegedly engaging in inappropriate relationships with your patients, contact an Illinois medical license defense attorney for help.

Investigations for Inappropriate Doctor-Patient Relationships

If a doctor is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a patient and admits to this behavior, it can be very difficult for the doctor to defend himself in an investigation into his conduct. It is, therefore, very important to retain legal representation and to act carefully, especially during the initial stages of an investigation. The investigation will generally follow a standard process:

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Illinois professional license defense attorneyThere are many professions in Illinois that require a professional license. There are boards that oversee the different types of licenses, with most of them falling under the umbrella of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Each board has their own set of rules and regulations that stipulate what is required and what is forbidden for someone to be approved for their license. One of the factors that could make it difficult for an applicant to obtain a license is if the applicant has been convicted of a crime.

What Type of Criminal Record Will Not Have an Impact on a License Application?

Generally, there are certain types of criminal record entries that should not have an effect on a license application. These include:

  • Any arrests and adjudications that occurred when the applicant was a juvenile

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Illinois professional license defense lawyerUnfortunately, not all investigations of a professional license holder by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are resolved with the allegations or complaints dismissed. There are cases where the board will find that the license holder violated a regulation and that some level of discipline is warranted.

In many situations, the professional will enter into some type of settlement agreement with the board that oversees their license (i.e., Illinois Medical Board, Illinois Nursing Board, etc.) in order to be able to continue practicing. But what happens if the license holder is accused of violating the settlement agreement? Does a violation mean an automatic suspension or revocation of a license?

Settlement Agreements

There are a variety of different reasons why a professional would be given the opportunity to enter into a settlement agreement to avoid loss of their professional license. For example, settlement agreements are often used in situations where the board finds there is enough evidence of a substance abuse issue for the license holder. In some cases, the professional may need to comply with daily check-ins either in-house or with one of the many companies that employers can contract with to oversee employee drug testing.

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 Illinois pharmacy license defense lawyerMaking pharmaceutical errors can have a significant detrimental impact on a pharmacy owner or pharmacist. The Illinois Board of Pharmacy and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can take harsh action, classifying a pharmaceutical error that results in serious injury or death as malpractice. In addition to the civil legal ramifications brought forth by the alleged victim and/or their family, a pharmacist and the facility that employs them can also lose their licenses.

Incorrect Medication to the Patient

If a patient is given the wrong medication, it can cause serious or even fatal side effects. Unfortunately, these mistakes do occur, especially in pharmacies that have a large volume of prescription medications they fill on a daily basis. This can happen for any of the following reasons:

  • The medication has a similar name as the name of the medication the patient was supposed to be given. Take, for example, Catapres® (clonidine) and Klonopin® (clonazepam). The generic names for both of these medications are very similar, but if the drugs are mixed up, the patient can experience loss of seizure control, hypotension, and other dangerous side effects.  

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Illinois professional license defense lawyerOn January 1, 2022, the No Surprises Act (NSA) went into effect. This federal law gives doctors and other licensed health care professionals, medical facilities, hospitals, and insurers significant and often complex regulations that must be adhered to in order to avoid serious sanctions that could include hefty fines and loss of medical licenses.

What Does the NSA Cover?

Lawmakers passed the NSA as a way to protect patients from unexpected medical charges and force providers to be more transparent when it comes to what they are charging. National statistics show that at least 20 percent of patients have received shocking emergency medical care bills with unexpected charges at some point in their lives.

The law limits the amount of liability a patient has on deductibles, copays, and coinsurance they are responsible for if situations prevent them from obtaining services from providers in their health insurance network and they are forced to obtain medical treatment from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities. 

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 Illinois professional license lawyerOur Illinois professional license defense law firm has written many blog posts regarding the types of behaviors and activities that can result in the suspension of a professional license, including insurance fraud, substance abuse, and criminal convictions. But there are also other reasons why the state may take action against your professional license that you may not realize. One of those reasons is if you owe unpaid income taxes to the state of Illinois.

Actions by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR)

Under Illinois law, the majority of residents – with some exceptions – are required to file a state income tax return. Businesses are also required to file state income tax returns, including medical offices and other healthcare facilities.

Your tax return will determine whether or not you owe taxes or if you are entitled to a refund. If you owe the state money but fail to pay when you send your tax return in, the IDOR will send you a bill for the amount you owe. That bill will also show the penalty and interest the state is charging you for not paying your taxes on time.  

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Illinois professional license defense lawyerIn January 2020, the recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Under the law, anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to cumulatively possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, five grams of concentrate, and cannabis-infused products containing up to 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

But medical professionals are often held to a different standard when it comes to marijuana, even if it is legal. There may not be criminal consequences for using cannabis products, but you could be putting your medical license in jeopardy under certain circumstances.

Using Marijuana Products

If you are a doctor, nurse, or other medical license professional, you may be legally allowed to use marijuana products in Illinois under the following circumstances:

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Illinois professional license defenseOur professional license defense law firm has written extensively about the serious consequences physicians face if they are accused of medical insurance fraud, including loss of medical license even criminal charges. However, dentists can also be accused with insurance fraud and face the same type of consequences. If you have been accused of dental insurance fraud, contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Dental Insurance Fraud

Dental fraud is any intentional misrepresentation or deception of treatment needed in order to obtain unauthorized benefits. According to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, more than $12 billion is lost to dental fraud every year.

One method of fraud that is becoming more common is the alterations of digital X-rays using software programs to create images that show bogus tooth decay, missing tooth structure, lesions, fractures, and more.

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illinois professional license defense lawyerThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued the latest edition of the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program (HCFAC) Annual Report. The report details the collection of just under $1.9 billion in healthcare fraud settlements and judgments in fiscal year 2021. Funds were returned to the Medicare Trust Funds and also to other federal agencies. Per the HCFAC, the federal government was able to recoup more than $5 billion in healthcare fraud.

Healthcare Fraud Charges

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more than 800 new criminal healthcare fraud investigations last year. Of those investigations, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 741 defendants. More than 300 of those defendants have already been convicted of healthcare fraud-related offenses.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an increase in the number of healthcare fraud cases that involved unnecessary lab testing, unnecessary services, and fraudulently obtaining pandemic healthcare relief funds.

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