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IL defense lawyerThe global pandemic COVID-19 has hit the U.S. especially hard, with over 199,000 confirmed cases in Illinois alone. From the beginning, this virus has led to overfilled hospital beds and overworked medical professionals. With no vaccination in sight and a high demand for doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, the U.S. has been forced to reevaluate their licensing procedures and state-by-state restrictions. It is common for states to adopt emergency licensing processes in response to natural disasters and their aftermath. Many states have followed this trend by enacting emergency-response licensure laws to allow volunteers from other states to practice their profession without being required to seek out licensure in that specific state.

Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner Act

The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner Act (UEVHPA) is legislation that was initially developed in 2006 and is being modeled by many states during the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation allows any participating state, Illinois included, to recognize out-of-state medical licenses during a declared state emergency. All practitioners who wish to participate in this reciprocal-licensing program must register to do so.

Illinois-Specific Legislation

Aside from the UEVHPA, which has been adopted by most states during this time, Illinois has enacted a few regulations of its own. Under Gov. Pritzker’s direction, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is allowing healthcare workers whose licenses have recently expired to temporarily restore their licenses to assist with COVID-19 patients. Physician assistants and doctors who have expired or inactive licenses from less than three years ago are able to return to work without paying any required licensing fees or making further progress on their education requirements. Additional leeway has been given to nurses and respiratory therapists, giving them a five-year pass rather than the three-year allotment given to doctors and physician assistants.

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IL license lawyerAt some point, we have all felt exhausted, cynical, or unhappy with our jobs. This is called burnout and it can have negative effects on job performance and personal happiness. Physician burnout has been one of the topics of concern among the medical community for a few years now. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), more than 40 percent of all physicians in the United States report experiencing signs of burnout. Physician burnout has been linked to higher rates of medical errors, lower quality of patient care, and a higher rate of physician drug and alcohol abuse and/or addiction. Physician burnout and its associated outcomes could have serious implications for your Illinois medical license.

Signs of Burnout

Burnout is a long-term response to work-related stress that is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished feelings of personal accomplishment. Burnout is not unique to medical professions, but physicians tend to be more prone than others. Other symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of empathy
  • Cynical or negative attitudes toward patients
  • Decreased productivity
  • Detachment
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Effects of Burnout

Physician burnout has been considered by many to be an epidemic that is consistent with providers across the country. Not only does burnout severely impact the provider’s own physical and mental health, but it can also impact their job performance, future job prospects, and patient care and health. According to a study published by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, physicians who reported symptoms of burnout were more than twice as likely to make a medical error than physicians who did not report symptoms of burnout.

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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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