The regulation and discipline of licensed professionals is important and necessary to protecting the public by ensuring licensed professionals comply with the rules and regulations covering the practice of their professions. Disciplinary records are available to the public, which can and does affect a consumer’s decision to seek professional services from even a well-referred professional. Last year a new law amended the Department of Professional Regulation Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, to allow a licensee to request removal of certain disciplinary offenses from the Department’s website under certain conditions.
The amended law, Records of Department action states in pertinent part, “Any licensee subject to a licensing Act administered by the Division of Professional Regulation and who has been subject to disciplinary action by the Department may file an application with the Department on forms provided by the Department, along with the required fee of $200, to have the records classified as confidential, not for public release and considered expunged for reporting purposes…” 20 ILCS 2105/2015-207.
There is a qualification process the starts with the age of the conduct or offense.
To qualify for the confidential classification of records four criteria must first be met. First, the offense or offenses must have occurred at least seven (7) or more years prior to the date of an application to the Department. Second, the licensee making the application may not have any other discipline incidents under the licensing Act since the occurrence of the underlying disciplinary record sought to be classified. Third, the applicant must not be the subject of any current or pending investigations by the Department. The fourth requirement is that the licensee must not be currently be in a disciplinary status at the time of the application to classify and remove past discipline from public view.
Discipline related to a limited number of offenses is permitted for a confidential classification application.
Even if an applicant is not under current investigation or discipline and the offense sought to be classified is more than seven (7) years passed, only a few certain types of offenses are allowed to be considered for removal from public view under the Act. Specifically, the offenses or actions qualifying under the amended law include: the failure to pay taxes or student loans; continuing education offenses; failure to renew a license on time; failure to obtain or renew a certificate of registration or ancillary licensee; advertising offenses; or any grounds for discipline that have been removed from the licensing Act.
It is important to note that even if an application to classify past discipline records is approved by the Department, the process does not affect national databases where disciplinary records may still appear. Many national databases, however, are not generally available to the public and only qualified users have access to that information.
Michael V. Favia & Associates represent licensees with disciplinary and regulatory matters.
Michael V. Favia & Associates is a health law and litigation law firm with a niche practice area in professional licensing and regulation. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit FaviaLawFirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.
Historically, state licensing boards and organizations require health care professionals to become independently licensed by each state in which they chose to practice medicine.[i] Surely, there are metropolitan areas in our nation where several states make up a metropolitan area, particularly on the East Coast. The Chicago metropolitan area spans across state lines to include residents of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, and notably, Michigan is not too far from the Chicago area and many people keep weekend lake homes there. Consider an oncologist who manages care and treatment of cancer patients, who has a lake house in New Buffalo, Michigan and a practice based in Chicago. What happens when telemedicine allows the doctor to use technology to monitor Chicago patients from his lake house in Michigan?
As technology and telemedicine offer health care professionals new options, there are new questions arising in professional licensing among the states.
Telemedicine is the use of mobile technology to perform certain routine health care services. Common applications of telemedicine include a physician with rural patients who require services that could be performed through the use of mobile technology, saving the patients the time and expense of travel to the doctor’s main office. Telemedicine also reduces the use of the office space and staff when patients are seeing the doctor from home.
Latoya Thomas, director of the State Policy Resource Center for the American Telemedicine Association commented in a recent article about the increased frequency in which states and organizations are addressing the concerns raised about the practice of telemedicine and developing appropriate laws and policies. Thomas stated, “It is something I think hospitals across the country are becoming familiar with if they haven’t already,” Thomas says, “and trying to figure out how they can comply with current standards but also prepare themselves for any new policies that might come down the pike in 2016.”
There are some “safe harbor” rules for telemedicine and states adopting policies and procedures for mobile healthcare practice.
In another scenario, an out of state patient who sees a physician in Illinois, for example, can conduct a surgical follow-up visit online; Indiana, Illinois and Ohio permit online physician follow-up with established patients[ii]. Another instance of allowed interstate telemedical practice not requiring the physician be licensed in the outlying state is the safe harbor rule of infrequent patient treatment. Minnesota has a telemedicine statute stating, “An out-of-state physician who holds a valid license to practice medicine in another state need not possess a Minnesota license-nor even register with the Minnesota Board-if she provides telemedicine services on an “irregular or infrequent basis,” which is defined as less than once per month or to fewer than ten patients annually.[iii]”
There is not a uniform law directing the standard of interstate telemedical practice yet. There are Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, however, offered by the American Telemedicine Association. Some states do allow physicians in neighboring or other states to practice medicine in their state without being independently licensed, but where the out of state physician practices with the same standard of care required in the individual state.
Before engaging in telemedicine, it is important to seek advice and counsel to avoid unauthorized practice of medicine liability.
Michael V. Favia and his associates and colleagues in health care law and litigation actively follow updates in mobile health care technology and the delivery of health care services. Favia works with clients not only with matters involving the practice of medicine directly, but also with the state licensing and regulation of health care professionals. When considering telemedicine, it is important to consult with the malpractice insurance provider and find out what policies control the location of the delivery of health care services.
Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist nurses and healthcare professionals with professional licensing matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.
[i] Healthcare Dive, State licensure issues challenging telemedicine borders, by Heather Caspi, Oct. 29, 2015
[ii] The National Law Review, The Out-of-State Practice of Telemedicine: Licensure Challenges and Opportunities, Oct. 21, 2015
[iii] See HNi above
The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the states authority to create laws and regulations to license and oversee professionals. In the healthcare industry like others, a license to practice is not an inherent right of the doctor, rather a privilege granted by state boards. The individuals elected to establish and oversee state medical boards are ultimately concerned with the health, safety and the welfare of their residents. State medical boards protect citizens from doctors who are unprofessional, improper and incompetent in their practice of medicine.
Generally, states make laws stating that it is unlawful or illegal to practice certain professions as medicine, law, accounting and real estate without holding a valid license issued by the state board. Just like medical boards, each entity that issues licenses also regulates and oversees complaints of regulation infractions. When complaints are received, an investigation, even if short, is opened. As a matter of policy, a review of the allegations of wrongdoing and inquiry letter to the professional is in the best interest of the public.
A complaint of wrongdoing surely does not necessarily trigger discipline, but ignoring a complaint will.
The source of complaints to state medical boards is unending. In any professional delivery of services, the possibility of mistake or unhappy patient is always present. If the state board does not find cause to discipline, suspend or revoke an individual’s license, and this is often the case, then the matter is closed.
What is ultimately unfortunate, some decide not to respond to inquiry letters. Most state medical boards will grant extensions of time to doctors who need additional time to properly respond or meet with an attorney. Ignoring that board, however, could be interpreted as evasive conduct and could be weighed in connection with other factors in the event an inference need be made about the individual.
The settlement of cases involving doctors, such as medical malpractice, can cause an inquiry by the state medical board.
In medical malpractice cases, for example, a settlement or adverse finding in a civil case is automatically reported to the state medical boards by most insurance companies after the case ends. When there is a duty to report cases involving the doctor’s services, there may be no action taken by a licensing entity. A very serious charge, a high dollar settlement amount, or a number of cases, however might trigger an investigation into that doctor’s practice and conduct. The results could be requirements for retraining or more education, suspension or revocation of the doctor’s license to practice medicine.
The fallout from an adverse decision concerning a professional’s license can be significant. A nationwide database collects and shares information concerning licensed professionals in several states. If an individual licensed in several states has one state posting a finding of discipline, other states may find out and more action is possible. Malpractice defense attorneys should consult with professional licensing attorneys to spot all the issues in a doctor’s case.
To learn more about professional licensing and medical malpractice defense you may contact our firm.
Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to help and meet for client consultations with offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburbs so you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.