Tag Archives: Physician Licensing

What can the innocent doctor do when audited for drug diversion?

At all ages, there are people who will abuse prescription narcotics one way or another. Some abuse narcotics, causing danger to themselves, and others sell or give them to others, contributing to danger and illegality. When someone goes to the doctor, presenting a condition requiring pain medication, for example, the doctor has no idea or control regarding what the patient can and will do after they leave to get their prescription filled and are on their way. If the patient has a temporary condition that never seems to get better, or despite all reasonable pain management efforts, the patient still needs narcotics, there could be a greater underlying problem such as drug diversion.

What is drug diversion?

Drug diversion is the taking and giving, selling or otherwise using prescribed, controlled narcotics for any purpose other than that which the physician wrote the prescription. State and federal investigators and their agencies have charged many physicians with criminal violations in connection with drug diversion. While some may be guilty as charged and making money off drug diversion, others may be unknowing victims of the bad acts and schemes of others, within and beyond the healthcare facilities and systems within which they practice.

The drug diversion statistics and information collected and shared in the health care community are compelling. As new “tricks of the trade” are discovered, so are more examples of diversion behavior. A 2013 drug diversion awareness conference presentation highlights DEA perspectives on pharmaceutical use and abuse.

How can a physician know if their patient may be engaged in drug diversion?

No matter what the honest physician, assistants and staff do to prevent drug diversion, it may be impossible to spot every bad actor.

Awareness and education are key tools in combatting drug diversion. Not only must prescribing physicians pay attention to this problem, their nurses, staff and those at the pharmacy or dispensing authority should all be part of the conversation and sharing of information when something or someone just does not seem right. Pain medication tracking systems and new technologies make it easier to monitor narcotics and the patients to whom they are prescribed. Despite all the education, awareness and tracking efforts, drug diverters can still slip between the cracks, exposing the physician to liability.

Liability concerns and fear of investigations are making many physicians more careful, but some say they are too careful. Patients with legitimate needs for high-dose of powerful pain narcotics might be denied the painkillers they need to not be in chronic pain, because that patient’s history and prescriptions could trigger an audit in an electronically monitored system.

What can a physician do if they are targeted and accused of running a “pill mill?”

Under a federal standard, physicians face criminal liability if they prescribe controlled narcotics without a “legitimate medical purpose” and outside the “usual course of his professional practice.[i]” State standards vary from one to the next, some being higher than others.

In Illinois, the Medical Practice Act of 1987 enumerates the laws of the State of Illinois with respect to physicians and physician assistants and their legal duties and restrictions with respect to prescribing controlled narcotics. In addition to criminal liability, the Act specifically identifies grounds for discipline by the state for “Prescribing, selling, administering, distributing, giving or self-administering any drug classified as a controlled substance (designated product) or narcotic for other than medically accepted therapeutic purposes.[ii]

If federal or state investigators receive a tip or independently “audit” (investigate) your practice with a search warrant, they may already suspect there is a violation of law and they simply want proof to charge the physician with crimes. At the very first moment a physician senses or is notified of an audit or investigation of their practice and prescription histories, the physician should immediately contact an experienced healthcare law and licensing attorney with a criminal defense focus.

Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. represents Illinois-licensed professionals in actions involving the IDFPR and the federal and state agencies investigating and prosecuting for drug diversion. Physicians are well-advised to obtain proactive advice and counsel to make sure they are well-protected.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent licensed physicians in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal 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, please call (773) 631-4850, visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

[i] U.S. DOJ, Office of Diversion Control, Purpose of issue of prescription, 21 C.F.R. § 1306.04(a)

[ii] Illinois Medical Practice Act of 1987, 225 ILCS 60/22 (A)(17).

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Becoming an Illinois-Licensed Physician with Attorney Jacqueline Friedman-Stein

Jacqueline Friedman-Stein

Jacqueline Friedman-Stein

The Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants is a group of highly experienced attorneys and investigators who represent and defend licensed professionals. The licensing consultants interviewed in this monthly program, previously worked for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, and will represent and/or defend licensed professionals in cases involving the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Illinois Department of Public Aid and Illinois Department of Public Health.

If you are outside the State of Illinois, the Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants have active of counsel relationships with a few major law firms, with offices in several states, so please reach out for assistance, even if you are not located in the State of Illinois.

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Topics covered in this 30-minute podcast:

  • Introducing Jacqueline Friedman-Stein
  • The process of becoming a physician in Illinois, the application procedures
  • Several paths in the application process, by examination and by endorsement
  • Applicants coming from both domestic and international medical schools
  • Issues involved that may cause application delay or referral to prosecutions
  • Resolving application issues and the impact of withdrawing an application

Jacqueline Friedman-Stein is a professional licensing attorney, of counsel to the Chicago health law and   litigation firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates, and formerly the Illinois Department of Financial and     Professional Regulation as well as private law firms specializing in healthcare law and legal services in   professional licensing. Jackie earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder, her Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, and her LLM in health law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Visit our Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants website for more information. You may also contact Jacqueline Stein for more information at (773) 631-4580 and by e-mail at jfstein@lawyer.com.

About the Health Care Workers Licensure Actions; Sex Crime Law

The offenses triggering action under this law are in the nature of general sex crimes.

The offenses triggering action under this law are in the nature of general sex crimes.

A recently adopted law identified as, Health care worker licensure actions; sex crimes, controls the licensing of Illinois health care workers who are involved in certain offenses, namely sex offenses. Specifically, the law applies to health care workers, as defined in the Health Care Worker Self-Referral Act, meaning “any individual licensed under the laws of this State to provide health services [most commonly known nurses, doctors, dentists and similar health care professionals]…”[i] The policy behind this legislation is to increase awareness and safety among patients so they do not have to worry about receiving treatment and services from a health care worker convicted of a sex crime, generally.

Under certain circumstances, a health care worker’s license will be automatically revoked, by operation of law, not requiring individual actions to revoke the license other than a qualifying event where the law applies. Additionally, this law prohibits any individual convicted of any of the listed qualifying offenses; they may not obtain or receive a new health care license.[ii]

The offenses triggering action under this law are in the nature of general sex crimes.

This law applies when an individual health care worker, covered under the Act, “(1) has been convicted of a criminal act that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act; (2) has been convicted of a criminal battery against any patient in the course of patient care or treatment, including any offense based on sexual conduct or sexual penetration; (3) has been convicted of a forcible felony; or (4) is required as part of a criminal sentence to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act.[iii]

Immediately, upon charges being filed against a health care worker to whom this law applies, the prosecuting attorney shall notify the licensing department the identity of the individual charged and a copy of the charges, within 5 days. While the charges are pending the individual charged with the offense(s) may only practice with a “chaperone” (a licensed health care worker) whenever encountering a patient, while the charges are pending.[iv] Of course, these individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but as a matter of policy, if charges are filed, it is important to take precautions to safeguard patients in the event the charges are proven and a conviction is entered against the individual health care worker.

In certain circumstances, charges and convictions of misconduct under this law can be removed.

In the case where the charges are dropped, the individual is not convicted of the charges, or the conviction for charges is vacated, overturned, or reversed, an administrative order will direct that the underlying charges be removed from the individual health care worker’s record with the appropriate agency, and from public view.[v]

Michael V. Favia works with Illinois-licensed health care workers and can assist with health care worker licensing matters and litigation.

If you are interested in learning more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, serving Chicago and its suburban communities, please visit the Favia Law Firm website for resources and articles of interest. To contact the firm to speak to a lawyer about a healthcare-related concern, you may dial (773) 631-4580. For more information about the firm’s practice areas, you can also visit the firm’sFacebook andTwitter sites. Please “LIke” and “Follow” respectively to keep in touch!

[i] 225 ILCS 47/1

[ii] 20 ILCS 2105/2105-165(b)

[iii] 20 ILCS 2105/2105-165(a)

[iv] 20 ILCS 2105/2105-165(c)

[v] 20 ILCS 2105/2105-165(e)