Few things are more threatening to a medical doctor, dentist, chiropractor, psychologist, pharmacist, nurse, or other licensed professional than the prospect of being investigated. Licensed professionals work today under a constant shadow of scrutiny. A host of federal laws, administrative regulations, licensing board rules and other statutes and ordinances regulate almost every aspect of professional practice. More and more patients, clients, competitors, and regulators are bringing charges and complaints for an assortment of real and imagined misdeeds. Across the country, state licensing boards are increasing the number of licensees disciplined each year. The longer you practice, the more likely you are to be investigated. However, knowledge replaces fear, and taking some precise, careful steps when investigated will help ensure that your rights are safeguarded and may result in a better outcome.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is responsible for administering and enforcing approximately thirty legislative Acts which regulate the practice of over 100 professions and occupations in Illinois. The Department has the authority to issue a license to practice a profession or occupation, and to revoke, suspend, or otherwise discipline the license upon proof of violation of a provision of the licensing Act under which the license is issued. If the matter is to be investigated, a Department investigator is assigned.
Healthcare practitioners and veterinarians are often asked to surrender their federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrations when they become the subjects of investigations.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation recently instituted a new policy providing that any settlement offer made by the Department for a case in which a healthcare practitioner has surrendered his or her DEA registration must include some period of suspension of the practitioner’s primary license and his or her Illinois Controlled Substance license.
A disciplinary conference is an informal meeting with an Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (Department) attorney assigned to prosecute a case, and with a member or members of the licensing board or committee of the licensee’s profession. An administrative law judge is not present during a disciplinary conference and there no transcript of the meeting is prepared.
Whether to accept or reject a settlement offer involving the discipline of a professional license is one of the most difficult decisions a licensee faces when he or she becomes the subject of a disciplinary case before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation or any regulatory or administrative agency.
As a result of a healthcare practitioner’s license being disciplined, a number of far reaching consequences may occur. Such consequences are not discussed at settlement conference with prosecutors and prosecutors may not even be aware of the potential for such consequences. A practitioner who becomes the subject of a disciplinary proceeding; whether it is informal, such as a disciplinary conference, or a formal evidentiary hearing, would do well to consider the potential effects of any discipline of his or her professional license.
The importation, manufacture, distribution, use, and destruction of controlled substances in Illinois are regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, and the Rules for the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Both federal and state laws govern a healthcare practitioner’s ability to order, store, prescribe, administer, dispense, and dispose of controlled substances in Illinois and they impose similar, but not identical, record keeping requirements. A practitioner is responsible for complying with both federal and state requirements.
Chiropractors and Medical Doctors in Illinois are licensed under the Illinois Medical Practice Act. The only distinction between Chiropractic Physicians and Medical Doctors in Illinois is that Chiropractors may not use drugs or operative surgery in their practice.