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IL license defense lawyerFor healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, psychologists, physical therapists, or pharmacists, notification that their practice is being investigated by an Office of Inspector General (OIG) can be very concerning. A state or federal OIG will look into reports of healthcare fraud or forms of waste or mismanagement involving Medicare or Medicaid. Depending on the results of an investigation, a provider may face a number of consequences, including exclusion from these programs or even criminal charges. To avoid these issues, it is crucial for providers to secure representation from an experienced attorney as soon as they are aware of an OIG investigation.

What Is the Office of Inspector General?

Different departments of the federal government and state governments have their own Offices of Inspector General. These offices are tasked with uncovering fraud, waste, or abuse that results in financial losses for government programs. Since Medicare is a federal program, the Office of Inspector General for the federal Department of Health and Human Services will investigate cases related to this program. Medicaid is administered at the state level, so the applicable state Office of Inspector General will usually investigate allegations of fraud or waste involving this program.

What Happens During an OIG Investigation?

In most cases, an OIG will investigate claims that a provider has committed healthcare fraud, which may include:

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IL DEA defense lawyerFor medical providers who prescribe or dispense controlled substances, maintaining a valid DEA registration is a crucial requirement that is necessary to continue providing services to patients. In some cases, these providers may be subject to DEA investigations and enforcement of laws and regulations related to controlled substances. The DEA is aggressive in its efforts to combat the illegal distribution of drugs, and agents will often threaten a provider and state that they could face criminal consequences, but this could be avoided if a person voluntarily surrenders their DEA registration. However, providers should understand that doing so is an irrevocable step that is likely to have a variety of negative effects on their medical license, their practice, and their career.

Consequences of Surrendering Your DEA Registration

Being subject to a DEA investigation can be very intimidating. If a DEA agent presents you with Form 104, “Voluntary Surrender of Controlled Substances Privileges,” and states that if you do not cooperate and turn over your controlled substance registration, you could face criminal prosecution, you may feel that you have no option other than to sign this form. Some DEA agents may even offer reassurances, claiming that agreeing to a voluntary surrender will make things easier for you and that you will be able to reapply for registration in the future.

In reality, voluntarily surrendering your DEA registration will make things easier for the DEA, but it will make things much more difficult for you. If the DEA was to pursue a case against you, they would have to prove that you committed violations such as unlawful prescribing or unlawful dispensing of controlled substances, and you will have the right to defend yourself in a DEA administrative hearing. If you sign Form 104 and turn over your DEA registration, you will be admitting to the DEA’s accusations and giving up your right to a hearing, and the DEA will no longer need to show that you committed any violations.

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IL license defense lawyerDoctors and other medical professionals are required to meet a large number of requirements before they can practice medicine. These requirements include obtaining a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completing a multi-year residency training program, and obtaining a medical license. However, a person’s training will not end at this point, and to ensure that they are providing quality medical care to patients, medical professionals will need to maintain up-to-date knowledge of medical science and standards while continually working to improve their skills.

In addition to meeting licensing requirements, doctors and medical providers will often obtain medical board certification from specialty boards such as the American Board of Pediatrics or the American Board of Surgery. This certification demonstrates that they meet high standards of care and are continually improving their knowledge and skills. To maintain board certification, providers will need to participate in continuing medical education, and they must pass assessments to ensure that their knowledge is up-to-date and that they are providing quality medical care to patients.

Reasons for Loss of Board Certification

In some cases, providers may face the loss of their board certification if they fail to meet the ongoing requirements that show that they are continuing to improve their knowledge and skills and providing the best possible care for patients. Fortunately, medical specialty boards offer a variety of programs and initiatives to help providers obtain education, further their knowledge, and meet the requirements to maintain certification.

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IL defense lawyerMost Illinois physicians are familiar with the Illinois Medical Board. It is where they obtained licensing status, and it is a constant concern to their practice. However, fewer people—including some doctors— know about the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the role it plays in their lives. Learn what it is and why it is important with help from the following information.

The Federation of State Medical Boards

Each state has its own licensing board, and the Federation of State Medical Boards ties them all together. It represents the 70 medical boards in the United States and its territories, including the District of Columbia. It offers policies, education, programs, and additional services to the state boards so that they can function effectively. The FSMB also enables state-to-state sharing of physician information. By far, that sharing is likely the most concerning issue for physicians.

How FSMB Sharing Can Impact Your Practice

The FSMB sharing allows state boards to look up disciplinary actions carried out by other state boards. So, if you lose your medical license or have it suspended in one state and then try to move, you may still be barred from practicing medicine. If you come under investigation, fail to see the investigation through to completion and move, the new state may have access to that information as well. Patients can also use the FSMB to check licensing issues in other states. With this in mind, even if an investigation seems arbitrary, it is important that you protect your license to the best of your ability.

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IL license lawyerSocial media has dramatically changed the way people interact with one another, and it has become a large part of life for many people. In fact, a recent study found that about 244 million Americans—about two-thirds of the entire population!—use some type of social media. Many professionals, including lawyers, accountants, and consultants, maintain various social media accounts, as do many doctors, psychologists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. In light of modern privacy laws, however, medical professionals must be sure that their social media posting remains ethical and compliant with the standards that apply to such individuals.

Privacy and Ethics

A healthcare professional is required to follow a variety of privacy laws, the most notable of which is the Health Insurance Portability Act—more commonly known as HIPAA. While there are many elements to HIPAA, one of the law’s primary functions is to ensure that patient’s personal and healthcare information is well protected. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals are as careful on social media as they should be, and sometimes, a doctor or nurse might post something that violates HIPAA, leading to the possibility of action from the state licensing board.

Keeping Yourself Safe

If you are a healthcare professional who uses social media for personal or professional reasons, there are few things you can do protect yourself from potential problems:

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