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IL license defense lawyerBeing accused of committing medical malpractice is one of the worst things that could happen to a medical professional. It takes years upon years of education, training, residency, and internship to become a physician. The last thing you would want to see is all of that go down the drain because of a patient complaint. In most cases, medical professionals do not have to worry about facing disciplinary action if they are accused of malpractice, but there are situations in which your license could be put into jeopardy if you are found to be responsible for malpractice.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes injury or harm to a patient because of a negligent act. Malpractice can occur during any stage of care, but to be considered malpractice, it must contain the following three elements:

  • The standard of care was violated
  • An injury was caused by the negligent act
  • That injury resulted in significant damages

There must always be these three elements present for a case to be legally considered medical malpractice. Accusing a doctor of malpractice is serious and could harm the doctor’s career and reputation. Because of this, cases that are missing even one of the elements would likely not hold up in court.

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IL medical license attorneyThe United States has been experiencing what has been referred to as an opioid epidemic for years now. Part of the cause of the epidemic was due to pharmaceutical companies insisting these medications were safe and non-addictive. This led physicians to prescribe narcotics at an increasing rate for patients with chronic pain. After it was discovered that these medications were actually highly addictive, they became controlled substances and subject to many regulations. State licensing and regulatory agencies began cracking down on physicians’ prescribing of these medications, punishing many who were abusive or neglectful in their power to prescribe. In 2019, 36 physicians in Illinois received some sort of disciplinary action due to improper controlled substance prescribing practices.

Opioid Use Guidelines for Physicians

In 2017, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) adopted a policy that outlines responsible prescribing practices for physicians with the privilege to prescribe controlled substances. This policy gives state medical boards criteria to use to evaluate a physician’s management of a chronic pain patient. This criteria includes evaluating the physician’s:

  • Patients’ assessments and evaluations
  • Monitoring of the patient while on the controlled substances
  • Use of treatment plans and patient pain goals
  • Use of treatment agreements with long-term opioid patients
  • Decision to use opioids as a treatment
  • Decision to terminate opioid treatment for a patient
  • Use of periodic and unannounced drug testing in patients
  • Upkeep and accuracy of the opioid patient’s medical records

In addition to providing physicians with guidelines as to how to responsibly prescribe controlled substances, the state of Illinois also requires any physician with a controlled substance license to register with the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (ILPMP). This program is an online resource that physicians are meant to use to prevent “doctor shopping,” which occurs when a patient visits multiple doctors to seek multiple prescriptions for controlled substances. Before a physician prescribes a controlled pain medication to a patient, they must first use the ILPMP to search for any other active prescriptions the patient might have.

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IL license defenseOne of the biggest and most concerning things that could happen to a physician is losing their privilege to practice medicine. While this type of disciplinary action is not as common as other types, it does happen in some cases and can be devastating to the physician. According to the latest information from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), there were more than 8,800 state medical board actions taken across the country in 2017. These actions range from something as simple as imposing a fine to permanently revoking a physician’s medical license. Here are the most common forms of disciplinary action taken against physicians in the United States:

  • License restricted (1,343): The most common form of discipline from medical boards across the country was to restrict a professional’s medical license. Having your medical license restricted typically means you are limited in what you can do as a physician. Typically, restrictions have something to do with clinical privileges, such as restricting the ability to write prescriptions.
  • Reprimand (1,147): Not far behind restrictions were reprimands. If a physician is reprimanded, this means the medical board issued a warning or letter of concern to a physician. Reprimands can be private or public and can sometimes be issued instead of formal charges or complaints.
  • Administrative action (1,023): If a physician has had an administrative action issued against them, it typically does not affect their medical licensure. Administrative actions can be issued by medical boards for various reasons, including failure to pay licensing fees.
  • Fine (890): Another common outcome of misconduct is a fine. A physician can be issued a monetary fine for many reasons including improper record keeping or similar issues.
  • Conditions Imposed (887): If a physician has conditions imposed on him or her, they must meet certain requirements or fulfill certain conditions to avoid further discipline by the board.

Have You Been Subject to Disciplinary Action? Contact an Illinois Medical License Defense Attorney

Any type of disciplinary action taken against you is serious. Before you have any action taken against you, you will be notified by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. If this happens, you should immediately contact a knowledgeable Illinois medical license defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, LLC, we understand how a disciplinary action can affect your career. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 630-310-1267.

 

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IL license defense lawyerAfter a long and stressful day, sometimes it is nice to come home and have a glass of wine or a beer. It is not uncommon for someone to come home from work and have a drink or two to unwind, but for some people, this can become a harmful habit -- especially if you work in the medical field. Individuals who work in the medical field face an immense amount of stress and tension on a daily basis. Multiple studies have suggested that medical workers face a higher chance of developing a substance abuse issue. According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, somewhere between 10 and 12 percent of all physicians will develop a substance abuse issue during their careers. Substance abuse is serious for anyone, but for a physician or other medical professional, it could jeopardize their career.

Signs of a Substance Abuse Issue

Sometimes, it can be difficult to spot the signs of substance abuse in a medical professional. Most of the time, medical professionals are very high functioning substance abusers, meaning they are still able to go about their daily lives and maintain their careers and households for a period of time. Here are a few common signs that a medical professional is battling substance abuse:

  • Preferring night shifts because of lessened supervision
  • Frequent job changes
  • Falling asleep on the job
  • Taking frequent bathroom breaks or other unexplained absences
  • Glossy eyes or small pupils
  • Incomplete charting or errors in patient paperwork
  • Other job-related errors or missteps

Consequences of Substance Abuse

Having a substance abuse issue when you are a medical professional is risky. Most of the time, issues arise with medical professionals when they have substance abuse issues because their job performance begins to suffer inexplicably. When a medical professional begins to make errors when they are completing patient paperwork or charting, other workers may begin to become suspicious and report their errors to the licensing board. Medical professionals also have the option to self-report their issues, which usually produces a better outcome than if they were reported.

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IL defense lawyerThe United State’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal entity whose main task is to make sure that drugs are being used, sold, manufactured and prescribed correctly and within the confines of the law. One of the ways the DEA accomplishes this is by performing audits and investigations on physicians and their practices. For doctors and their employees, this can be a cause for concern because even a small slip up can become a serious issue. If you have become the subject of a DEA investigation, you should act quickly and immediately hire a medical license defense lawyer.

Understanding DEA Investigations

The DEA routinely conducts audits at the practices of physicians who are permitted to prescribe controlled substances. Typically, you can expect an audit every three years to determine if you are being compliant with all applicable laws. The DEA may also perform an audit if they have reason to believe something illegal may be taking place. This typically begins the investigation process and involves the DEA auditing your patient files. It is possible that the DEA or FBI may also request an interview with you to attempt to gather more information. If they have probable cause to believe that you have not been complying with the Controlled Substance Act, you may also receive a search warrant for your office or practice.

What to Do if You Suspect an Audit or Investigation

If you have been contacted by the DEA or FBI for any reason relating to controlled substances, you should immediately get in touch with a DEA defense lawyer. If the DEA has reached out to you, it probably means they are suspicious of the distribution, use or prescribing of controlled substances from your practice. Your lawyer should immediately begin to look over patient files and records, looking for anything that the DEA might see as a red flag.

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