Dr. Michael R. Kinney, a 28-year licensed and practicing physician and surgeon risks the indefinite loss of his license to practice in a case involving accusations of inappropriate sexual relations with a patient. From 2007 to 2008, a suburban single mother of three was treated for breast cancer with Dr. Kinney. During the period of treatment, the patient alleges her doctor’s advances started with a kiss and she knew exactly what he wanted. In proceedings before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility (“IDFPR”), the prosecutor, Vladimir Lozovskiy seeks the indefinite suspension of Dr. Kinney’s license to practice.[i]
In Illinois, the Medical Practice Act of 1987[ii] states in the section of the law regarding disciplinary action, that the Department (IDFPR) shall adopt rules setting forth standards in determining, “what constitutes immoral conduct in the commission of any act, including, but not limited to, commission of an act of sexual misconduct related to the licensee’s practice…[iii]”
There Department rules prohibit sexual relations between physicians and their patients for several reasons. According to the chief medical coordinator for the IDFPR, Mr. Brian Zachariah, “Even what might appear to an outside observer as a consensual behavior between a doctor and a patient is truly not consensual…the patient is in…a vulnerable position.[iv]” Further explaining, Zachariah reported that the physician is the one with the responsibility to avoid a sexual relationship with a patient, and that such an event could cause conflict with the decision-making abilities of the physician.
IDFPR cases are prosecuted similar to those in Illinois criminal courts.
Dr. Kinney is currently, as of the date of this article, licensed to practice medicine and the IDFPR site indicates he has never previously been disciplined by the Department. The Department prosecutor must prove their case before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), in this case, Judge Mike Lyons. After three days of hearings, this case was continued for further hearing, resuming at a later date. The ALJ will have 60 days to make a recommendation as to the status of Dr. Kinney and his license to practice medicine. The next procedural step is an additional 60 day window of time for Medical Disciplinary Board to make its recommendation before a final ruling.
According to reports from the first three days of hearing, there are not any witnesses to physical or sexual abuse or contact other than the complaining witness who testified as to her accounts of the ongoing sexual relationship between her and Dr. Kinney. In a “he said, she said” case like this the credibility of the witnesses and circumstantial evidence will be weighed carefully before a decision is made. Because the potential discipline in this case could be the indefinite suspension of the doctor’s license, the process of investigating and proving these types of complaints is significant.
Michael V. Favia & Associates represent licensed professionals in IDFPR matters.
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[iii] Medical Practice Act of 1987, 225 ILCS 60/22(A)(46) (c)
[iv] See Chicago Tribune article (HNi)