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illinois license defense lawyerSocial media platforms have become an integral part of many people's daily lives, often without realizing just how integral. People post photos, comments, opinions, and memes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and several other sites on a regular basis. While social media is often a good place for keeping in touch with family and friends, and even networking, it is crucial to be vigilant about what you are posting, especially if you work in certain fields, such as nursing. In fact, items from your social media posts could ultimately be used against you in any actions taken against you by the Illinois Board of Nursing.

Conduct That Is Unprofessional

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having someone tag us in a photo that we think we look horrible in. It is now out there for everyone to see. However, if you are tagged in a photo that also shows you engaging in behavior that may be considered inappropriate or unprofessional, the photos can be used as evidence against you as ground for any disciplinary action by the state nursing board.

Examples of these types of photos include ones where you may be seen drinking and partying. Maybe comments made on the photo could also be deemed inappropriate even if made at an attempt at humor, such as a joke about how inebriated you were.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1188829789.jpgIn Illinois, there are a number of different professional licensing boards that all fall under the umbrella of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Any individual who holds a professional license in the state of Illinois is under the oversight of whatever board issued that license. When there is a complaint or other issue filed against an individual, that board will be the one to investigate the complaint, determine if there is validity to it, and decide if any disciplinary action should be taken against the person who holds that license.

Anyone who has been notified that they are under investigation should contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away in order to ensure their rights are protected in any investigation and/or hearings that take place. Choosing the right attorney, however, is critical.

Hiring a Professional License Defense Attorney

There are a number of boards that fall under the IDFPR, including:

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oak brook medical license defense lawyerNot every job turns out the way we hope. It is not uncommon for a medical professional – just like any other profession – to find themselves at odds with their supervisor or manager. Although many of these disagreements may be worked out, there are unfortunately instances where no resolutions are able to be met and the employee either leaves or is fired. In extremely acrimonious situations, the employer may even make accusations of wrongdoing against the employee and threaten or actually file a complaint with the Illinois board that oversees that medical professional’s license. If you find yourself in this position, contact an Illinois medical license defense attorney right away for legal assistance.

Reporting Misconduct of an Employee

If an employer believes that one of their employees has committed some kind of act or behavior that violates the standards set forth by the state of Illinois, their employer not only has a right to report that violation, but they also have a legal duty.

For example, if a hospital has discovered that one of their nurses has a substance abuse issue and has been stealing prescription medications from patients for their own use, not only do they need to take the appropriate action against that nurse, but they also need to report the drug use and theft to the Illinois Board of Nursing. If they fail to take action, they could be putting patients’ lives at risk. They also leave their facility open to legal action should something tragic occur, as well as jeopardize their own licensing with the state.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1348640414.jpgNurses are a special breed of people. They dedicate their lives to taking care of others, often at the expense of time spent with their own loved ones. To become a nurse, they spend several years going to school and training and continue that education during their careers to stay abreast of the most up-to-date medical care for patients and meet the requirements of the Illinois Board of Nursing. Given the amount of dedication and sacrifice a nurse pours into their career, it is imperative to take all the necessary steps to ensure their nursing license is protected. All it takes is one false or misleading allegation, and a nurse can find themselves facing disciplinary action or even loss of their nursing license.

Complaints that May Lead to a Nursing License Investigation

The Illinois Board of Nursing is tasked with overseeing all licensed nursing professionals in the state. A complaint made to the board will trigger an investigation into whether the allegations being made are true and – if they are – what disciplinary action is warranted. Any nurse who is notified by the board that there has been a complaint filed against them should contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Some of the most frequent complaints filed against nurses include:

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oak brook professional license defense lawyerLast year, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, one of the many changes that were implemented was how doctors and other healthcare providers saw patients. Instead of in-person appointments, patients consulted with their physicians via telehealth video calls. Although much of the country has opened up, many doctors are still using telehealth for appointments. However, along with this newer technology comes new opportunities for healthcare billing fraud. It can also leave healthcare providers unknowingly committing a crime that can result in criminal charges and loss of their medical license.

Telehealth Expansion

Telehealth uses video technology to connect doctors with their patients for medical checkups. This technology allows patients to communicate with their doctors any medical concerns they have and allows doctors to provide medical advice and treatments, without the risk of exposing either party to COVID. While telehealth has been used for years in rural areas or areas where there are no nearby healthcare providers, its use has become very widespread throughout the country during and post-pandemic.

But this widespread use also brings about concerns of providers failing to meet the requirements and other guidelines that are needed to bill for an actual appointment. There are also concerns that a provider may give the patient unnecessary medications.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_178157129-min.jpgWhen you own or are part of a medical practice, you may have long-term patients who have been coming to you for their healthcare needs for years. You may also have patients who are only short-term – maybe they move away and that means changing physicians, or your practice is no longer covered under their health insurance plan, or maybe they just decide to change doctors. However, there may be the occasion where you yourself decide you need to end a relationship with one of your patients. While you may think that you have every right to choose who you take on as patients and who you do not, how you terminate a patient relationship may result in accusations of patient abandonment.

Terminating a Patient

There are a number of valid reasons why a doctor may make the decision to end a relationship with a patient:

  • They consistently do not show up for appointments.

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oak brook medical license defense lawyerAccording to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) workplace sexual harassment continues to be a major issue in the United States. Although significant strides have been made in the prevention and elimination of sexual harassment in the workplace, there is still far to go. Workplace sexual harassment can be found in just about every industry, and the medical field is no exception. And while accusations of workplace sexual harassment can wreak havoc in any employer’s life, when a physician is accused of inappropriate behavior, it can also mean the loss of their medical license.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Continues to Exist in the United States

More than 6,500 complaints of workplace sexual harassment were filed with the EEOC in 2020, a decrease of about 1,000 complaints as compared to the year before. Although there are several factors which may play into that decrease, the COVID-19 pandemic causing business shutdowns and many employees working at home may have been a significant one. Unfortunately, the EEOC also estimates that a great many incidents of workplace sexual harassment go unreported because the victims fear there will be retaliation, the belief that nobody will believe the allegations to be true, and the belief that nothing will be done to stop the harassing behavior.                     

Sexual Harassment in the Medical Industry

Sexual harassment by physicians fall into two categories – both totally unacceptable according to the Federation of State Medical Boards. There is the workplace sexual harassment committed by physicians against other medical professionals, usually employees that they are in a place of power over. There are also cases of sexual harassment where doctors target patients.

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illinois license defense lawyerIt is a given in the medical community that any type of physician should have medical malpractice insurance. In today’s litigious society, with thousands of malpractice lawsuits filed every year, just one malpractice claim against a doctor could destroy them financially, both professionally and personally. However, many other licensed professionals, such as nurses, social workers, and counselors,can also face serious allegations that can impact their career and finances. Yet, many of these professionals do not have any kind of liability insurance to cover the costs of these claims. This is why having professional liability insurance can be a safety net to professional and financial disaster. 

Why You May Need Your Own Policy

Most nurses and social workers are covered under their employers’ liability insurance policies. For example, a nurse who works in a hospital would be covered under that hospital’s policy if a patient filed a malpractice lawsuit and that nurse was one of the parties named in the suit. However, that policy may not cover the cost to that nurse of defending his or her license before the Illinois Board of Nursing for any complaints that may result in that lawsuit.

Another important issue that nurses and social workers should consider is that many complaints that the Board of Nursing and Illinois Social Work Examining and Disciplinary Board receive are filed by the licensee’s own employer. These complaints usually occur after the licensee has been terminated from their job. So a nurse or social worker who needs a skilled and experienced Illinois professional license defense attorney to fight these charges with the board is now unemployed and may not have the resources to retain a much-needed attorney.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1873782871.jpgThe winter holiday season is usually made up of get-togethers with family and friends, holiday work parties, and other celebrations. There is often alcohol involved in many of these gatherings and sometimes people can over imbibe. When an intoxicated individual gets behind the wheel, they may face charges for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The consequences of a DUI conviction in Illinois can have a significant impact on anyone’s life, but if you are a doctor, a DUI conviction can also have an impact on your medical license and professional reputation.

DUI Penalties for Conviction

Anyone who is arrested for DUI in Illinois must face both the criminal justice system and the Secretary of State’s office in an administrative hearing. A person who refuses to submit to a chemical test faces an automatic loss of driving privileges under the Illinois implied consent laws. Failure of chemical testing also can result in automatic loss of license.

If a person is found guilty in the criminal process, they face a minimum revocation of driving privileges for one year for their first offense, five years for a second offense, 10 years for a third offense, and a lifetime revocation for a fourth or subsequent conviction. There may also be jail time and hefty fines imposed.

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oak brook license defense lawyerPharmacists, just like many other professionals, are required to complete necessary education and training related to their field, and then obtain their license through the state of Illinois. The agency that is in charge of licensing and regulation over the state’s approximately 20,000 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is the Illinois Board of Pharmacy, which is part of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Part of the oversight the pharmacy board has is handling all complaints and investigations, as well as taking any appropriate disciplinary actions. If you have received notification from the board that they are investigating a complaint against you or conducting an investigation for any other reason, it is important to contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Reasons for an Illinois Board of Pharmacy Disciplinary Action

The Illinois Board of Pharmacy can place a pharmacist on probation, or they may even revoke the pharmacist’s license if they feel the pharmacist has committed a violation. For example, a pharmacist who has been convicted of a felony level offense or has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude may lose their pharmacist’s license. Crimes of moral turpitude include sexual misconduct, assault, and DUI.

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illinois license defense lawyerThe real estate market is booming across Illinois and across the country. For sale signs that are put up in front of homes are quickly replaced with under contract and sold signs. Many real estate agents are having great success in sales and the commissions they are earning. However, all it takes is one complaint or one investigation by the Illinois Division of Real Estate (DRE) and that success can quickly disappear.

Without a real estate license, a person cannot sell real estate in the state. The DRE has established standards that all Illinois real estate professionals must adhere to. Accusations of not following those standards could result in loss of your license. So, what types of issues could threaten an agent’s real estate license?

Criminal Conviction

One of the most serious issues that can result in loss of a real estate license is a conviction for certain crimes, especially crimes of moral turpitude. Crimes that fall in this category include the following:

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Illinois Professional License Defense LawyerWe have discussed many issues that can threaten a physician’s medical license in our blogs, including allegations of insurance fraud, substance abuse issues, and allegations of medical malpractice. These types of issues usually go through a process that is overseen by the Illinois Medical Board and – depending on the circumstances – often involves filing responses, hearings, and even appeals. However, there is one issue that could result in a suspension of a doctor’s medical license that does not involve that process and occurs quickly once it is requested. That issue is failure to pay court-ordered child support.

Illinois Child Support Law

Under the Illinois child support law, every parent has a legal duty to support their child and, according to the law, that duty “includes the obligation to provide for the reasonable and necessary physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.” In most cases, child support is paid to the parent that the child will be spending the majority of time with.

A child support order is a legal order issued by a judge and if a parent fails or refuses to pay child support, the state has approved several actions that can be taken against the parent. Some of these actions include the following:

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Illinois Professional License Defense LawyerThe Illinois State Board of Dentistry is the agency that oversees licensed dental professionals. If a complaint has been filed against a dental professional with the board of accusations of unnecessary treatment, substandard care, or inappropriate behavior, it is critical to have an experienced Illinois professional license defense attorney defending you against these allegations or you could risk losing your license to practice. In some cases, the patient may have also filed a dental malpractice claim. 

Why Should I Have an Attorney?

Defending against a complaint can be a complicated process, requiring the knowledge and experience of how the process works. Failure to respond to the board before deadlines and with required information can result in serious consequences for the dental professional being accused. 

The first step the board will take when a patient has filed a complaint is to decide if the complaint has merit. If the board decides it does, it will be given to a dental board investigator to begin an investigation into the allegations. Your attorney will prepare a written statement responding to the complaint, as well as help you prepare for any written questions by the dental board investigator assigned to your case. 

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Illinois medical provider enrollment defenseIn today’s litigious society, doctors often have to worry about medical malpractice claims. The high cost of malpractice insurance to protect a physician and their practice is one of the factors that drives the high cost of healthcare. Although focused on malpractice concerns, worrying about accusations for Medicare or Medicaid fraud is not something that a physician usually concerns themselves with, yet these accusations occur much more often than you may realize.

Medicare Fraud Accusations

The False Claims Act was enacted to protect these programs from the filing of false claims. A physician can be accused of fraud for false claims if the Office of Inspector General (OIG) feels that physician knew or should have known the claims were not valid. Under this law, a physician can be held legally liable even if they had no idea their office was submitting fraudulent claims with Medicare or Medicaid. If the OIG finds the physician guilty, that physician can receive a fine of $11,000 for every incorrect or fraudulent item billed to the government.

Incorrect coding is also another reason why the OIG may accuse a doctor of Medicaid fraud. If the incorrect code results in a larger amount of reimbursement than what the actual charge should have been, the OIG could deem this act an abuse of the program.

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Illinois Medical Practice Defense LawyerHearing the word “audit” can trigger a stressful reaction, no matter what entity is conducting the audit. One of those entities is the Illinois Office of Inspector General. Receiving notification that your medical practice is under an audit or investigation by IG could result in severe consequences without the experienced and skilled representation of an Illinois medical license defense attorney.

Is There a Difference Between a Healthcare Audit and a Healthcare Investigation?

The two terms are often misunderstood to mean the same thing but there are specific differences between the two. A healthcare audit examines the behaviors and actions of the medical practice when it comes to the financial side of things. An audit will examine what the practice is issuing charges for, how funds are being spent, and if there is cohesiveness with all of these figures.

There are several reasons why a healthcare audit may be initiated. One of the most common issues that can trigger an audit is when an insurance provider makes a claim that the practice is overcharging for the services and care they provide. The insurance company may not accuse the practice of outright fraud, however, just that inquiry triggers an audit in order to provide the insurance company with the answers that justify the practice’s fees and charges.

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Illinois Professional Medical License LawyerIn 2004, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) established the Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors (VAWD) process in order to keep the country’s supply of prescription drugs and medical devices safe from counterfeit products. The NABP process is a rigorous one. In order to receive VAWD-certification, a drug wholesale company must show that they have a legitimate operation, their license is in good standing, they have employees, and utilize best practices when it comes to handling, storing, and shipping prescription drugs and medical devices.

It is in a pharmacy’s best interests – as well as their customers’ – to always purchase medications and devices from a VAWD-certified company. Although it may be tempting to purchase from a secondary wholesaler because it has lower prices than an accredited company, you have no idea where the products are coming from or how the company operates since there is no oversight. Recent events emphasize just how dangerous this can be.

Owner Indicted on Federal Charges

Last month, federal prosecutors announced they had indicted the owner of a Plainfield, IL wholesale drug company for purchasing unregulated prescription drugs and then reselling these medications to unsuspecting pharmacies. The man was charged with six counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and three counts of money laundering.

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Illinois License Defense AttorneyReceiving a formal notice of complaint from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) can feel overwhelming, no matter what profession you are in. A formal complaint can have devastating repercussions – not only on your reputation, but on your entire career and livelihood. Regardless of whether the notice is about a minor disciplinary action or threats of suspension or revocation of your license, it is critical to consult with an Illinois professional license defense attorney immediately.

You Have Received the Notice. Now What?

When an Illinois professional board receives a complaint – whether it is the medical, nursing, pharmacy, dental, real estate, or any other professional board – it will determine if it has the proper jurisdiction. If it does, then the board will initiate a formal investigation. The licensee who is being investigated will be sent a formal notice in writing, advising them of the complaint and investigation.

Although it may be tempting to put the notice aside and deal with it later, this can result in serious consequences. There are precise deadlines that have been put in place by the IDFPR in the complaint process and failure to address the complaint and submit an appropriate response could not only result in forfeiture of your legal rights but can also result in additional disciplinary action and/or further sanctions by the board.

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Illinois DEA Investigations Defense AttorneyThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – Chicago Division, along with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois recently announced that two Illinois doctors were indicted on federal criminal charges for allegedly prescribing opioids to patients who did not have a legitimate medical reason for the drugs.

The Indictments

According to the information released by the DEA, one of the physicians charged managed a medical practice in Melrose Park and the second physician was employed there. The indictments allege that between 2015 and 2020, the doctors dispensed fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other controlled substances to patients who came to the practice but that no physical exams or diagnostic tests were performed on these patients in order to confirm what medical needs the patients had for these drugs.

The doctors are also accused of causing pharmacies to submit many claims to Medicare and Medicaid for prescriptions that were allegedly improperly prescribed.

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Illinois Medical License Defense LawyerOver the last few months, federal and state agencies across the country have issued warnings to health care professionals who hold various licenses to watch out for phone calls and letters from scammers claiming to be from state medical boards, claiming the person’s medical license has been suspended. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating these alleged scams. If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Illinois Medical Board threatening that your license is in jeopardy, it is important to contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Details of the Scam

According to details released by law enforcement, the scammers will contact a health professional usually by phone. The call appears to be legitimate to the recipient because the scammers have been able to alter the phone number on the person’s caller ID so that it appears that the call is actually coming in from the state’s medical board. 

There are a couple of different methods the scammers are using to commit this fraud. In one of the scams being used, the person is contacted and told their medical license has been stolen and was used to commit criminal acts. The scammer claims these criminal acts are being investigated by the FBI, DEA, and other law enforcement agencies. The person is told their license has been suspended and that in order to have it reinstated, they must pay a bond.

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Illinois Medical License Defense AttorneyThere is no doubt that the country is deeply divided over just how serious COVID-19 is and what steps should be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus. There is intense debate over vaccines, masks, and social distancing, with much of that debate raging over social media platforms. Unfortunately, there has been an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation posted on these platforms about the virus. Some of this information comes directly from physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. All of this misinformation has prompted the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) to announce that any healthcare professional who spreads COVID-19 misinformation is at risk of losing their medical license.

The Federation of State Medical Boards

The FSMB is a nonprofit organization that represents 71 state medical and osteopathic boards in the United States. The organization provides education, data, assessment, and research to medical boards, while also focusing on initiatives and services that promote regulatory best practices, quality health care, and patient safety. The FSMB also co-sponsors the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

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