Tag Archives: Professional Licensing

Relaxed restrictions: Health care licenses and criminal convictions

On January 1, 2017, new laws on the books in Illinois took effect. Among the new laws passed was a bill to protect applicants for professional licenses who may also have a record of a criminal offense and conviction. Prior to the new law, applicants for health care licenses[i] were barred from applying for a professional health care license if they had been convicted of criminal offenses.

In fact, a 2011 law, now rescinded, had automatically and permanently revoked or denied licenses to certain health care professionals with certain past felony convictions. Imagine working in a health care career for years and being stripped of your license to work and earn a living. Those affected by the 2011 law may now move forward in applying for the reissue of their health care license.

Those previously stripped of licenses may seek relief:

New health care license applicants who may have been precluded from receiving a license prior to January 1 may now request the issuance of a health care license by the State of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Financial Regulation (IDFPR), who issues and regulates health care licenses and professionals, may no longer deny a request for a professional license solely on an applicant’s criminal record unless the conviction is directly related to the occupation for which the individual seeks a license.

“The new measure is part of ongoing efforts by Governor Rauner and legislators to remove unnecessary barriers to the professional licensure while ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the public.[ii]

New opportunities for independent review:

Under the law, if an individual applies for a license to work in regulated health care position, and they have a criminal conviction, the individual may qualify for special review under the new law. The Petition for Review, timely filed, can be used to affirmatively establish that the individual has been rehabilitated from their conviction.

There are several factors to be considered by the IDFPR in reviewing Petitions for Review, such as the seriousness of the underlying criminal conviction, any prior disciplinary history associated with the applicant, and notably, the individual’s voluntary remedial actions. Remedial actions can help establish an individual accepting responsibility for an error, and when coupled with rehabilitation, the decreased chances of future errant actions.

Child support obligations:

The new rule also gives the IDFPR more discretion in disciplining a license holder who falls behind in child support obligation. While it may be true that some child support obligors knowingly fail to pay child support, others may fall behind unintentionally. When the health care worker is denied their license to earn a living, and they want to be current on their support obligation, taking their income away can further complicate the problem.

If you believe the new law applies to your health care career and opportunity to hold the proper license, whether you were previously denied, suspended or revoked, you should know that every situation is fact-specific and what applies to some may not apply to others. Call Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. for a comprehensive review of your professional licensing matter to learn if the new law may change your health care career outlook.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals 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. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. 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] Note: Health care workers include doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and more.

[ii] IDFPR Press Release Dated 12/29/2016, A Pathway to Licensure: Changes to Law for Health Care Workers with Criminal Convictions.

Nursing professions regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

 

The nationwide nursing shortage hit Illinois and the problem is there are not enough young nursing professionals to replace the number of retiring baby boomer nurses. In a recent survey, a third of the currently working nurses age 55 and older plan to retire within the next five years.[i] Research shows that even fewer nurses are able to fill the need for Ph.D. nurse educators. The problem is not the lack of interest in the nursing professions, there is a shortage in education program capacities. The nursing schools are full. With concerns of state budget cuts in education, gaining admittance to state nursing education programs may become increasingly difficult. Private nursing schools can be a good alternative, and for those willing to go so far as the Ph.D. programs, private school tuition may be a solid future investment.

There are several nursing professional options in Illinois. No matter where you may be in the progression of your nursing career, you will be in demand for many years to come. In addition to the required education, a nurse professional must apply to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to obtain the required state license to practice nursing in the following regulated areas of nursing in Illinois.

Professional Nursing Professions Licensed by IDFPR[ii]:

  • Registered Professional Nurse (RN)[iii]

RNs primarily administer medication, treatments, and offer educational advice to the patient.

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)[iv]

LPNs provide basic nursing care and are responsible for the comfort of the patient.

  • Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)[v]

APNs assist other medical professionals and manage patient care, and many specialize in fields such as pediatrics, oncology and family medicine.

  • Continuing Education Sponsors are licensed to provide continuing education to licensed nurses.[vi]
    • APN CE Sponsor
    • LPN CE Sponsor
    • RN CE Sponsor
  • APN Controlled Substance[vii]

Physicians may delegate limited authority to prescribe controlled substances to Advance Practice Nurses with the APN Controlled Substance credentials.

Illinois laws such as the Nurse Practice Act[viii], identify what specific aspects of healthcare are allowed or limited by each specific nursing license.

In addition to assistance with the nurse professional licensing process, Illinois nurses may also need legal assistance with various business aspects of nursing careers such as employment contract and collaborative practice agreement review and negotiation.

Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation. We help Illinois nurses with any and all issues with the regulation of their professional license with the IDFPR.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals 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. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. 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] Modern Healthcare, Nationwide nursing shortage hits Illinois, by Adam Rubenfire, May 27, 2015.

[ii] Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Regulated Professions, Nursing.

[iii] All Nursing Schools, Registered Nurse vs. Licensed Practical Nurse.

[iv] See HNiii above.

[v] All Nursing Schools, Advanced Practice Nursing.

[vi] Nurse.org, Nurse CE and CEU: Continuing Education for RNs.

[vii] IDFPR Controlled Substance Licensing.

Image Source: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/16/2020411/doctors-oppose-more-authority-for-nurses/

[viii] Illinois Nurse Practice Act, 225 ILCS 65.

PODCAST: Criminal Healthcare Fraud and Defense with Attorney Anthony Schumann

This podcast interview with Anthony Schumann focuses on current trends and topics in the area of criminal healthcare fraud and defense. In the next 30 minutes we will cover everything from how to be proactive in your practice and limit your liability, to what steps to take if you are audited, investigated or charged with a crime.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics covered in this 30-minute interview 

  • Introducing Anthony Schumann, tell us about your law practice
  • Sources of criminal healthcare law, state and federal
  • Enforcement areas: home health, kickbacks, mental health, drug diversion, etc.
  • What to expect during investigations and when to obtain legal defense counsel
  • Professional licensing concerns in connection with dispositions of cases
  • What to expect in defending criminal healthcare fraud charges

Anthony L. Schumann is a partner in the Chicago office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.  For more than 30 years, Mr. Schumann has participated in over 150 civil and criminal trials and evidentiary hearings.  He focuses his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law, government liability, and white collar criminal defense.  He has extensive experience representing corporate, governmental and individual clients in state and federal courts and during all stages of investigation and throughout the litigation process.  Mr. Schumann has extensive experience assisting companies with internal investigations and in handling compliance issues.  He has attained an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest professional rating awarded for legal ability and ethical standards; and he is also included in the listings of Illinois Leading Lawyer and Illinois Super Lawyer.

# # #

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to advise and represent health care professionals and the general Chicagoland community with a variety of legal issues. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburbs, 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 call (773) 631-4580, visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You may also connect with Attorney Michael V. Favia on LinkedIn and on Avvo.com where you may also read client endorsements and reviews.

Illinois physicians and healthcare professionals: Are you prepared in the event of an OIG audit or review?

Not only do healthcare providers need to be concerned with federal compliance with government funded benefit programs like Medicare, there are state compliance agencies who oversee and audit physicians and healthcare systems to make sure there are no shortcomings in the state-funded benefit systems. In Illinois, the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) operates as a division of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The OIG’s stated mission is, “to prevent, detect and eliminate fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct and mismanagement in programs administered by Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Human Services.[i]” The OIG focuses its efforts in fraud prevention, investigations, audits and reviews, sanctions and restrictions, and safety and security.

The OIG in Illinois is highly focused on preventing fraud on the Illinois Medicaid Program and it uses advanced technologies and methods to detect and track activities that could be fraudulent. When possible the OIG conducts preventative verifications of the people and systems involved in tracking medical equipment, the prescribing and delivery of medications and healthcare services.

Illinois Medicaid Fraud Investigations

Fraud can stem from many sources including public aid recipients as well as employees and healthcare service contractors. When a report is made that fraudulent activity may be occurring, the OIG is tasked with investigations to determine if a fraud is being perpetrated on the system. The OIG works closely with a variety of state agencies and authorities to investigate and stop fraud. When an investigation produces significant proof of fraudulent conduct the proper agencies may arrest and bring criminal charges against any individuals involved in defrauding the state.

Audits and Reviews in the Illinois Medicaid Program

In addition to investigating suspected fraud cases, the OIG also conducts a variety of audits and reviews of the Illinois Medicaid System:

  1. Post-payment compliance audits – are all the payments made to Medicaid providers identified and proper?
  2. Quality of care reviews – are proper healthcare services being performed for patients who rely on state funded Medicaid and related programs?
  3. Eligibility reviews – are the people receiving Illinois Medicaid eligible within the system requirements?

What to do if you receive notice of an audit or review by the OIG

In the event the OIG notifies you that they are planning an audit or a review of your healthcare practice, policies and procedures in connection with the application or receipt of reimbursements from Illinois Medicaid or any other program under the authority of the OIG, it is important to immediately contact a healthcare attorney to make sure you are properly organized and prepared to cooperate with the audit or review.

While there may be advanced notice or warning of an audit or review, in cases where a fraud report has been filed with the OIG and they have already been investigating the complaint in the background, the audit might be less routine and more of an evidence gathering exercise. The advice to call a lawyer still applies, and moreover, talking to a lawyer before there is any reason to worry about an audit is a good idea. Just as you maintain a malpractice policy and never plan to use it, maintaining a plan of action in the event of an OIG audit is a prudent move for any healthcare provider.

Michael V. Favia is an experienced healthcare attorney who worked for the State of Illinois and knows first-hand how state investigations and prosecutions proceed and how to properly cooperate.

The former Chief of Prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, now known as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (“IDFPR”), Michael V. Favia advises and represents healthcare professionals and organizations in a variety of matters, including routine, and not-so-routine audits, reviews and investigations. Favia knows the state regulatory schema and system and can help healthcare professionals craft a plan and be prepared in the event the OIG or another agency comes knocking at their office door.

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] IL Dept. of Health and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General, mission.

Illinois physician agrees to surrender medical license after giving patients non-FDA approved drugs

Dr. Ann Kinnealey is no longer an Illinois-licensed medical doctor following investigations leading to an agreement with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Kinnealey may have been facing IDFPR discipline and elected to surrender her license voluntarily. She waived her right to a hearing with the Department investigating her in connection with a criminal investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning Kinnealey, an oncologist, purchasing and prescribing $1 million worth of misbranded drugs obtained from Canada that were not approved or allowed by the FDA.[i]

The FDA spends significant resources to protect the public from non-FDA drugs. Narcotics from overseas can be less expensive than approved pharmaceuticals legally obtained, and there is a black market. In other cases, prices are not the issue, rather patients may seek imported drugs not otherwise approved and legally available in the U.S., drugs that may otherwise still be in clinical trial stage or experimental drugs. When patients are sick and their chances of recovery are compelling, some doctors and patients will do whatever it takes to get their hands on anything that might save their lives, even if it means the purchase and sale of illegal imported narcotics.

When the FDA gets involved, so does the IDFPR

When an Illinois-licensed professional is investigated, charged or convicted of wrongdoing, the IDFPR can and will launch its independent investigation and determine if the individual should be disciplined to keep its duty to the people of the State of Illinois to ensure that licensed professionals meet the requirements to hold a professional license. As a general rule, individuals with criminal problems do not meet the state’s requirements to hold professional licenses.

The IDFPR investigated Kinnealey and ordered a summary suspension of her medical licenses (Licensed Physician Controlled Substance, Schedules II, III, IV and V, and Licensed Physician and Surgeon) on April 8, 2016. The reason cited for the summary suspensions as listed on the IDFPR license lookup page is “based on unprofessional and immoral conduct and fraudulent or deceptive statement in a document related to the practice of medicine, to wit: Respondent illegally acquired non-FDA approved chemotherapy medications and administered said medications to oncology patients.[ii]

The doctor surrendered her license in lieu of discipline by the IDFPR

A couple weeks later, Kinnealey surrendered her license on April 21, 2016, “Surrender in Lieu of Discipline, for purchasing non-FDA approved, misbranded cancer chemotherapy prescription drugs to be used in her oncology practice between 2008-2012.[iii]

The FDA investigation included information that the FDA notified Kinnealey in 2009 that the non-approved cancer treatment drugs she was importing from Canada, were not allowed in the U.S. Kinnealey ignored the FDA warning and continued buying and prescribing the cheap import cancer drugs. She billed Medicare for some of the Canadian drugs, and was reimbursed more than $514,000. Fortunately none of Kinnealey’s patients died as a result of using the counterfeit drugs.[iv]

IDFPR spokesman, Terry Horstman stated, “She will no longer be able to practice medicine or prescribe controlled substances within Illinois. Chief medical coordinator for the Department said, “the continued practice of medicine by Kinnealey presented “an immediate danger to the safety of the public” in the notice of her suspension April 8.[v]” In addition to the loss of her career and medical licenses, Kinnealey was ordered to pay approximately $129,000 in restitution to the federal government.

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.

[i] The Republic, Illinois doctor gives up license over cancer drug imports, Associated Press, May 11, 2016.

[ii] Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, physician lookup, Ann E Kinnealey MD, May 13, 2016.

[iii] See Ann Kinnealey license lookup referenced HNii above.

[iv] Beckers Hospital Review, Chicago oncologist relinquishes license to settle illegal cancer drug probe, by Tamara Rosin, May 11, 2016.

[v] Chicago Tribune, Evanston doctor gives up license after cancer drug probe, by Robert Channick, May 11, 2016.

Image Source: Chicago Tribune, Biddiboo / Getty Images http://trib.in/23OwafP

Applying for confidential classification of prior professional disciplinary records.

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

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.

Drug addiction in the nursing industry: Being proactive can save your career

What happens to the medications administered to patients who refuse to take them?

What happens to the medications administered to patients who refuse to take them?

Nursing and healthcare careers are stressful and demanding on many. One RN tells his story about how he developed an opiod addiction. He was caring for patients at work and at home. When kidney stone problems started, so began the habit of taking pain pills. Nurses and healthcare practitioners have unique opportunities to position themselves with access to the pills to which they too often become addicted. Home healthcare settings, with fewer people watching, may provide a chance to skim some medications here and there. Just like stealing candy from a baby, it becomes easier and seemingly safe.

What happens to the medications administered to patients who refuse to take them?

In the case of the opiod addicted RN, his own judgment was became compromised. “My drug use was out of control. I was stealing 10 to 12 pills and 50 to 70 mg of injectable opioids every day. To stay close to my supply, I volunteered for overtime and called in on my day off to see if the unit was short-staffed. I carried a vial of naloxone (Narcan), an opioid-receptor antagonist, in case I overdosed. I don’t know who I thought would administer it. My thinking was distorted by the drugs.[i]

Signs of drug diversion; moving legitimate drugs to channels of illicit use[ii]:

  • “Arriving early, staying late, and coming to work on scheduled days off;
  • Excessive wasting of drugs;
  • Regularly signing out large quantities of controlled drugs;
  • Volunteering often to give medication to other nurses’ patients;
  • Taking frequent bathroom breaks;
  • Patients reporting unrelieved pain despite adequate prescription of pain medication;
  • Discrepancies in the documentation of controlled substance administration;
  • Medications being signed out for patients who have been discharged or transferred or who are off the unit for procedures or tests.”

Studies and reports indicate that nurses have a higher recorded rate of a history of alcohol abuse compared to other healthcare professionals.[iii] Additionally, ER nurses are found to 3.5 times more likely to use cocaine or marijuana compared to other specialty nurses[iv]. Unfortunately, guilt and shame sometimes cause individuals suffering with addiction to hide it and develop coping behaviors. There are programs and processes to help nurses struggling with addiction behaviors and contrary to the fear of many, the nurse’s professional license status may be protected. However, if a nurse does nothing and continues abusing controlled narcotics they could walk into the loss of a job, license and career.

The Illinois Nurses Association established a network of peers who offer support for nurses with a variety of professional performance concerns connected with misuse of alcohol, drugs, mental or physical illness, or psychiatric disorders. The group is called the Peer Assistance Network for Nurses (“PANN”), and their toll-free confidential hotline number is 800-262-2500.

Seeking treatment for terrible diseases like alcoholism and drug addiction by skilled professionals can not only increase the risk of recovery, active treatment can also be weighed as a factor when a nurse or healthcare practitioner’s license is on the line.

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist nurses and other healthcare professionals with professional licensing matters and lawsuits. 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] Lippincott Nursing Center, Addiction: A Nurse’s Story, By James Hastings, RN, as told by Jeri Burn, MSN, RN, Aug. 2007.

[ii] Addiction: An Occupational Hazard in Nursing, See HNi

[iii] Kenna GA, Wood MD. Family history of alcohol and drug use in healthcare professionals. J Subst Use 2005;10(4):225-38.

[iv] Trinkoff AM, Storr CL. Substance use among nurses: differences between specialties. Am J Public Health 1998;88(4):581-5.