Tag Archives: Professional licensing law

Failure to report an incident involving charges or convictions of crimes can lead to worse consequences.

What happens if I voluntarily surrender my medical or nursing license?

There are so many possible scenarios in which nurses and physicians may be subject to discipline by the state medical boards and licensing departments. What you decide to do in one state can impact what happens in another state if you hold multiple licenses. While some legal problems, such as convictions for fraud or injury to a patient, might seal your professional fate, not all allegations or findings of fault are met with the suspension or revocation of your license by the state. A crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude might be treated differently than the allegation of failure to follow a state law correctly. In the event the wrongdoing you fear will lead to loss of license, is something you can get help for, such as in the case of substance abuse or addiction, treatment and rehabilitation may be helpful in showing the state that you are not a threat to the public. The best idea is to work with a professional licensing attorney who can advise you and help weigh your options.

What is the benefit of voluntarily surrendering your medical or nursing license?

The short answer, is when you elect to voluntarily surrender your license, you avoid going through the process of the investigating board scrutinizing you or your conduct at hearings and making findings of fact and conclusions that may be published on websites in the public domain. In Illinois, for example, the IDFPR publishes notes of their decisions and discipline on the website, searchable by anyone.

In the event your hold licenses in multiple states, the voluntary surrender in one state may be favorable, compared to findings of fault, when other states may investigate whether to discipline you or affect your license in their state.

A surrender may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and should be taken seriously.

In most states, when you voluntarily surrender your nursing or medical license, you also swear to never apply for the reinstatement or make an original application for a new license. Your career options can be severely limited by having a surrendered license.

The terms of discipline, if any, can include a suspension of license and privileges for a minimum period of time and until further order of the medical board or licensing department. Depending on the circumstances of discipline, it may be possible to fully reinstate the license, privileges and career.

A professional licensing attorney who works with healthcare professionals, can advise as to the disciplinary process and expected outcomes.

Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. represents Illinois-licensed professionals in actions involving the IDFPR. A former Chief of Prosecution with the Department, Michael V. Favia is well-known for his work on both sides of administrative licensing law.

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.

Indiana nurse practitioner, licenses in emergency suspension, acquitted of felonies

Kathy Lynch, the nurse practitioner in Indiana, charged and found not guilty of multiple felony counts for prescribing narcotic diet pills without a license, called in prescriptions for the doctor, without independently being licensed by the state, with a DEA registration. When the news story broke, Chicago Tribune readers learned that Lynch prescribed 2,048 prescriptions for narcotic weight loss drugs, phentermine and phendimetrazine in 2012 and 2013, in the name of the doctor she worked with, without the doctor’s knowledge or consent.[i]  Lynch and another nurse practitioner she worked with, Karen Dunning, were charged with 42 felony counts for writing the prescriptions and delivering the narcotic diet pills directly.

When felony charges were issued against the nurses, there was a supportive response from their supporters and patients, with whom they were quite popular. In fact, many community supporters openly criticized local law enforcement. One can only speculate whether local popularity and notoriety led the nurses to commit crimes in prescribing and delivering drugs without a license.

Indiana ordered an emergency 90-day suspension of the nurses’ licenses to practice nursing.   

The Indiana State Board of Nursing, notified of the arrests, ordered the nursing licenses of Lynch and Dunning to be suspended for 90 days, on an emergency bases, while awaiting the Indiana Attorney General to file a formal licensing complaint with the Board. It is reported that the board did not believe Lynch and Dunning could safely practice nursing in the State of Indiana, “Further, due to the serious nature of the allegations and (their) repeated illegal activity, it is believed that (they) represent a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety,” the petitions (for suspension) state.[ii]

In the first trial, of the two nurses, the jury found Lynch not guilty.

At trial, the issue was whether the nurse knew she was breaking the law when she used the apparent authority of a doctor, to prescribe the narcotic diet pills. She faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

After four hours deliberating, the jury found Lynch not guilty. In response, Lynch made statements such as “I’ve lost two years of my life…And my patients and my staff have suffered.”[iii]

Emergency license suspension was still active, despite a not guilty verdict.

Lynch’s license was still under emergency suspension, according to Trent Fox, representative for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. The law in Indiana requires advance practice nurses like Lynch obtain a DEA controlled substances registration if they want to administer, dispense or procure controlled substances. Lynch currently works as an office manager at the clinic where she prescribed and delivered the narcotic diet pills without the required DEA registration. Lynch has not yet been reissued a nurse practitioner’s license by the Board in Indiana.[iv]

As of the publishing date of this article, April 8, 2016, all three licenses held by Kathy Lynch are in “Emergency Suspension” status, reported by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency search results. Lynch has three nursing board licenses: Registered Nurse, APN Prescriptive Authority, and CSR-Prescriptive Authority. Note the later two licenses were issued in August 2014, well after the initial charges were filed, leading to the emergency suspension of her, then single nursing license that was originally issued in 1983 and is scheduled to expire at the end of October 2017.

A not guilty verdict does not control the decision of a licensing board.

Facing up to 20 years in prison, the jury sided with the defendant, Lynch, who argued confusion in the laws and her understanding, meant that she did not knowingly violate the law. The Board in this case, may consider the verdict, but the defense of confusion and mistake of the law could work against Lynch, when the Board evaluates her fitness as a nurse practitioner. It is unknown when, if it all, Lynch’s license will be restored.

Professional licensing issues and decisions may operate independent of law enforcement and court procedures and decisions, however the entire collection of facts and circumstances can influence licensing boards, charged with protecting the safety of consumers by ensuring licensees continue to meet state minimum licensing requirements.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C., works with health care professionals who are arrested and face conviction as well as license suspension, revocation and discipline, generally.

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 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] Chicago Tribune, Kouts nurse practitioners charged for illegal prescribing weight-loss drugs, by Amy Lavalley, March 20, 2015.

[ii] See HNi above.

[iii] Chicago Tribune, Kouts clinkc owner not guilty of drug charges, by James D. Wolf Jr., Apr. 1, 2016.

[iv] Chicago Tribune, Cleared nurse practitioner determined to return to practice, by Jerry Davich, April 5, 2016.

Telemedicine: Illinois licensing issues

Telemedicine and new telehealth options are available to an increasing number of patients. In addition to hospitals and health care organizations, direct health care service providers are adopting telemedicine into their medical practices to serve and an increased number of patients. Telemedicine utilizes mobile apps and software allowing doctors and patients to meet in a virtual setting for certain types of services. In other settings, when meeting with your regular doctor, you might use mobile health care technology to bring in a specialist who would otherwise not be available due to schedules and distances. Routine doctor-patient interactions, such as follow up visits and general maintenance can be conducted using telemedicine, saving time and resources for patients who would otherwise need to drive distances to see their doctor. As more people learn of the benefits of telemedicine, there may be a patient preference to see a doctor who can see them in person or by mobile health care technology. In light of the benefits of telemedicine, there are certain legal issues arising in mobile health care. Practitioners should be aware and mindful of licensing issues.

Licensing issues involved in the practice of Telemedicine

Illinois law speaks of telemedicine within the context of the practice of medicine. Anyone practicing medicine and using telemedicine technologies must be licensed by the State of Illinois, and anyone engaging in the practice of telemedicine without an Illinois-issued medical license may be subject to penalties.[i] The general rule is that only an Illinois-licensed doctor may offer services, using telemedicine, to a patient located in Illinois. There are some exceptions to licensing rules, as it applies to patients located outside the State of Illinois.[ii]

Telemedicine does not include the following:

  1. periodic consultations between a person licensed under this Act and a person outside the State of Illinois;
  2. a second opinion provided to a person licensed under this Act; and
  3. diagnosis or treatment services provided to a patient in Illinois following care or treatment originally provided to the patient in the state in which the provider is licensed to practice medicine.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact[iii] was adopted into Illinois law on July 20, 2015. The Compact allows physicians to become licensed in multiple participating member states. The state where the medical practice takes place is the state where the patient is located at the time of the first physician-patient encounter, and the physician is subject to the jurisdiction of the state medical board in that state. Where a physician may become licensed in several Compact states, an unfortunate event, such as a medical malpractice lawsuit and settlement could lead to more problems for a physician, making telemedicine a potential benefit and burden.

Pitfalls of multistate licensing and practice

In the event of a malpractice settlement, the insurance provider presents the case disposition information to the National Practitioner Data Bank, the clearinghouse for state medical practice information designed to protect the public from unfit doctors moving from state to state to avoid a negative practice history. If a doctor licensed in Illinois, is also licensed in other Compact states, all the state medical licensing boards may be notified of a malpractice settlement. While Illinois may not take disciplinary action against a doctor for settling a malpractice case, there is no telling what the boards in other Compact states may decide with respect to licensure in their state. If one of the states disciplines the physician, more states may get involved and investigate for purposes of discipline.

While there are plenty of patients for doctors to serve in outlying areas in Illinois, there is an increasing interest in telemedicine among individual providers who can better reach their practice goals through mobile health care technologies. Whether staying within the Illinois boarder or practicing across state lines, there are licensing considerations that may present burdens along with the benefits of telemedicine.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C., works with physicians interested in bringing telemedicine into their practice, and advises doctors and organizations about licensing as it intersects with mobile health care.

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 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] 225 ILCS 60/49.5(b)

[ii] 225 ILCS 60/49.5(c)(1)-(3)

[iii] House Bill 3680 Enrolled, Public Act 099.0076

State Medical Boards: Healthcare licensing and issue spotting with medical malpractice cases

Some examples of medical mistakes and misdiagnosis come directly from the stories reported by doctors!

Some examples of medical mistakes and misdiagnosis come directly from the stories reported by doctors!

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.