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shutterstock_1708574428-min.jpgWhether you are a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other professional, your journey of education and training, obtaining your degree, to finally obtaining that professional license that will enable you to work in your chosen profession is a long and hard one. Unfortunately, that application process can put an unexpected roadblock in your journey if the board that issues your license rejects your application. There are a number of issues that can result in a license application denial. Knowing what those issues are prior to applying for your professional license may enable you to be proactive and contact a professional license defense attorney.

Application Errors

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has stringent rules and regulations in all aspects of professional licenses, including the application process. The majority of applications include a statement made under the penalties of perjury that all of the information contained in the application is correct. Thus, if an applicant makes an unintentional error in their application, that sworn statement tells the board the error was not a mistake. Having a professional license defense attorney assist you with the application will ensure that all of the “t’s” are crossed and all of the “i’s” are dotted.

Failure to Disclose

A common issue in professional license application denials is that the applicant fails to disclose information. Although this can be an unintentional failure to disclose, the board could think that it was intentional on the applicant’s part in order to hide derogatory information. The truth is that failing to disclose the information can often be more of a problem than the issue itself. A professional license defense attorney can help you determine what information you are required to disclose.

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 shutterstock_1936087690-min.jpgThere is always a risk for a professional license holder that someone will make an allegation that could trigger an investigation by the licensing board that issued the license. The investigation results and the decision of the board could mean that the individual will be unable to work at their profession. The steps you take from the moment you are aware of the complaint can determine the eventual outcome. The following are things you should avoid doing. A Chicago professional license defense attorney can provide more details about your particular situation.

Failing to Disclose Potential Issues

If you are applying for a new Illinois professional license or renewing your current one, the law requires full disclosure on the following issues:

  • Unsatisfied debt

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shutterstock_1122192059-min_20230111-212438_1.jpgThere are a number of professional and legal issues that can have an impact on an Illinois professional license. Whether you are a medical professional, business professional, real estate professional, or any other professional license holder, any allegations of improprieties, negligence, or criminal behavior will result in a notification from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that your license is at stake.

A notification from the board that issues your license may lead you to ask if you need an attorney to represent you. The following is a brief overview of why you should strongly consider retaining the services of a professional license defense attorney, like those at Williams & Nickl, LLC, to defend your license.

Skilled and Experienced in Developing a Defense Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes that a subject of a licensing board investigation can make is to speak with the investigator overseeing their case. This is the equivalent of a person who is under criminal investigation speaking to a police officer without their attorney present. Despite the approach the investigator may take with you, they are not your ally, and they are not interested in hearing your version of events.

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shutterstock_500070817-min.jpgThe New Year not only brings resolutions for many people, it also brings new laws. One of those new laws in Illinois will affect every licensed healthcare professional in the state. As of January 1, every licensee will be required to complete a one-hour course in implicit bias awareness. This course will be part of the required medical education the state requires.

What Is Implicit Bias?

Racial disparities are present in employment, education, housing, and multiple other areas in this country. Many people may not even be aware of their part in it. This is referred to as implicit bias. Implicit bias is a term used to describe the unconscious prejudice a person may feel about a person, group, or thing. The biases can be either favorable or unfavorable. The feelings are triggered without the person’s awareness, completely involuntarily. According to professionals who have studied the issue, implicit biases cannot be addressed through introspection since they are unknown to the individual.

Implicit biases can occur when the individual meets new people, interacts with other employees, or even in their interactions with other parents at their children’s baseball games.

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shutterstock_2141661247-min.jpgThe Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives people the right to bear arms, however, there are federal and state laws that place specific limits on who actually qualifies to own firearms.

Under federal law, the general rule is that a person who has been convicted of a felony cannot own a firearm. This also applies to crimes involving domestic violence or having a serious mental condition. Illinois law goes even further. The following is a brief overview of Illinois gun permit laws. If you have been denied ownership, an Illinois FOID card attorney may be able to help.

Criteria on Gun Ownership in Illinois

Under Illinois law, in order to be eligible to purchase a gun, you must obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. This card is issued by the Illinois State Police. In order to be eligible for a FOID card, you must be a legal resident of the state. You must also be 21 years of age or older. If younger, then a parent or guardian must consent.

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shutterstock_754376389-min.jpgIt is estimated that one in three physicians will have at least one medical malpractice lawsuit filed against them during their medical career. In the majority of claims, the patient does not prevail in their lawsuit. Approximately 70 percent of claims are dismissed, dropped, or withdrawn.

Even when a medical malpractice case does not result in action against the doctor, it can still have a significant impact on his or her professional career, including investigations by the Illinois Medical Board. This is why it is critical to take any legal action against you seriously and move quickly in seeking legal assistance.

What to Do if You Are Notified You Are Being Sued

If a patient files a medical malpractice lawsuit against you, the first thing you need to do is refer that patient to another professional if asked. It is estimated that almost 10 percent of physicians being sued by a patient for malpractice continue to treat that patient for other issues.

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shutterstock_695671243-min.jpgThe month of December is one of the busiest for many people. The holiday season usually means get-togethers and parties with family and friends. If you are a professional, there are often many festive business gatherings scheduled during this time that not only gives you the chance to socialize with business colleagues but can also be significant networking opportunities.  

Many of these social events, whether personal or professional, involve the serving of alcohol. Having a couple of drinks at a holiday party may seem innocuous enough – until you are driving home and suddenly see the blue lights flashing behind your vehicle, signaling you to pull over. Not only can a drunk driving conviction affect your right to drive, but it can also affect your ability to practice your profession. Drunk driving is considered a crime of moral turpitude and under Illinois law, professional license holders face professional license suspension if convicted of one of these crimes.

What Are Crimes of Moral Turpitude?

While the law is very specific on the penalties of what will happen to an individual if they are arrested or convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, it is not specific on what exactly the definition of one is. Generally, the courts have held that a crime of moral turpitude is one that is contrary to the morality and norms of society, that goes against the duty that is owed to others, that is vile and offensive, and that shock a reasonable person. A crime of moral turpitude is one that puts an individual’s judgment, morals, character, and ethics in question.

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shutterstock_1087209695.jpgThe arrival of Thanksgiving is typically the kickoff to the holiday season. This often means family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, and holiday parties. These events are also a popular time to drink. The number of drunk driving arrests and accidents spike this time of the year. Any driver who has been arrested for drunk driving faces harsh consequences if convicted, but those consequences are even more significant for a professional license holder.

DUI Penalties

In Illinois, any driver operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is legally considered driving under the influence. A first DUI offense is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the driver will lose their driving privileges for one year. They also face fines, court fees, and other expenses.

There are certain circumstances where a first-offense DUI can result in an aggravated DUI charge, including causing a crash that results in great bodily injury to others. An aggravated DUI is charged as a Class 2 felony. Not only will a conviction result in an extended driver’s license suspension, but there is also the possibility of a three- to seven-year prison sentence.

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shutterstock_1917306185.jpgMost physicians are aware of issues that can result in serious legal trouble, including actions taken against their medical license. Some of the more common issues include patient negligence, insurance fraud, and substance abuse. One surprising issue that can end up causing significant ramifications is advertising. Just like other businesses, many doctors find it beneficial to engage in different types of advertising in order to grow their practice, however, there are crucial factors that physicians should follow in order to avoid legal issues.

Truth in Advertising

Up until 1977, physicians were not even allowed to advertise. Ironically, it was a U.S. Supreme Court decision (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona) that finally allowed attorneys to advertise that opened these doors for doctors. Although not many doctors initially took advantage of this new avenue to attract patients, over the past four decades, physician advertising has become more commonplace.

One of the most critical factors a doctor needs to adhere to when advertising is to be truthful. Be truthful about what your level of medical expertise is and do not try to appear to specialize in an area you do not have education, training, or experience. If you are advertising a specific treatment or procedure you offer, do not guarantee results unless your practice has had a 100 percent success rate.

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shutterstock_1720779988-min.jpgThere are many words in the English language that sound similar but have different meanings. In most cases, the confusion may only to the necessity of clarification. However, in some situations, there could be legal implications if the definition of each word is not understood. For example, in medical malpractice, a doctor can be accused of a missed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. While those two words sound very similar, there is a definite difference in how a doctor would defend their Illinois medical license if they were accused of either one.

How Are Patients Diagnosed?

When a patient goes to a doctor with a health issue, the doctor takes the necessary steps to determine what medical condition or illness the patient has. This is usually done by examining the patient, running any necessary tests, analyzing the results of these tests, and comparing these results to what the doctor knows. Ideally, the doctor comes up with a diagnosis. If it turns out the diagnosis is wrong and the patient undergoes unnecessary medical treatment and/or becomes sicker, the doctor could be accused of misdiagnosis.  

In situations where the patient goes to the doctor, complaining of symptoms, but the doctor fails to diagnose what is wrong with the patient, that is referred to as a missed diagnosis. This can lead to the illness becoming worse because of the delay in treatment.

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shutterstock_171921827-1-min.jpgIllinois law requires all real estate brokers who are doing business in the state to hold a valid Illinois real estate license. All professional licensing is overseen by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). If a real estate broker is accused of violating any regulations or laws, they could face serious consequences, including suspension of their professional license. These allegations can involve how a broker is running their business, as well as allegations and/or complaints from clients.

The following are some of the more common reasons why the IDFPR will take action. If you are a broker who is notified that you are being investigated, it is important to contact an experienced professional license defense attorney right away.

Client Complaints

While the majority of buyers and sellers are happy with the real estate brokers they work with, there will always be some clients who find a reason to be unhappy with the way their transaction went and that dissatisfaction can even lead to filing complaints and taking legal action. Complaints that can lead to an IDFPR investigation include:

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Chicago medical license defense lawyerThere are many issues that physicians face today that can result in some form of punitive action taken against their medical license. In some cases, it can even result in the loss of that license. One issue that has become particularly prevalent is allegations of overprescribing medications, especially for older patients.

Overprescribing Can Be a Real Problem

There is no denying that prescription drugs have become a problem for many people in the United States who struggle with drug addiction or other drug-related issues. According to national data, the number of Americans who are taking five or more medications has doubled over a 10-year period to approximately 15 percent. Prescription drugs can present a problem to seniors especially. Almost 45 percent of adults 65 years or older are taking five or more medications. This spike has led to a significant rise in the number of adverse drug events that happen each year, leading to increased scrutiny of the prescribing doctors. 

Why Are Doctors Accused of Overprescribing?

The vast majority of doctors work hard to take good care of their patients. Sometimes, confounding factors can cause a doctor to accidentally or inadvertently overprescribe drugs, or to prescribe drugs that cause patients an adverse reaction without realizing the danger. Doctors may be accused of overprescribing medications to seniors for many reasons, including:

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 Illinois business license defense attorneyBoth the federal government and the state of Illinois have numerous laws in place to prevent employers from taking advantage of employees. These laws cover minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor laws, definitions of exempt and non-exempt employees, and more. When someone makes allegations of wage wrongdoing against the employer, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) will investigate. If the department finds the allegations are true, the employer can face harsh financial penalties.

Overtime Pay Requirements

Bothe the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL) address wage issues for employees. While the FLSA has set the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, the state’s minimum wage is currently at $12.00 per hour for workers 18 years of age or older. Under the FLSA, the Illinois rate is the prevailing rate for Illinois workers.

This wage is for those employees who work 40 hours or less in a single workweek. This workweek is set by the employer, must be seven consecutive 24-hour periods, and is fixed to be the same every week, although it is not required to coincide with the calendar week. For example, some employers will follow a Sunday through Saturday workweek, while others may follow a Monday through Sunday workweek.

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Chicago medical license defense lawyerWhen one hears the word “audit,” it often triggers a negative reaction. After all, no one wants their financial life picked apart by the IRS. Being notified that your practice is going through a Medicaid audit can bring about the same type of reaction. Even if you feel there should be no issues with your practice, if the government finds any errors, it can lead to very expensive consequences and even have an impact on your medical license.

Notification of a Medicaid Audit

Approximately 25 percent of Illinois residents are covered under the state’s Medicaid program for their medical benefits. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General, Bureau of Medicaid Integrity is the state agency that oversees Medicaid audits. The goal of these audits is to prevent abuse, fraud, misconduct, and waste of the state’s Medicaid program. If any evidence of wrongdoing is found, those held responsible could face payment suspensions and even criminal charges, depending on the allegations.

When a practice has been selected for an audit, the physician will be notified by the OIG in writing that an audit is being conducted. Along with that written notification will usually be either a request for samples or a list of patients in the practice, along with a detailed questionnaire for each patient. During the audit process, there will typically be even more requests for information.

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Illinois license defense attorneyThere is no denying we have become a video-based society. What started out as “selfie” photos on Facebook about a decade ago has mushroomed into videos and reels on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and multiple other social media platforms, to say nothing of ubiquitous security footage.

Not all of those videos are made with our knowledge. In fact, one major study found that the average person is caught on camera almost 240 times a week. And if you travel a lot or work at certain jobs, that number can reach up to a thousand times a week – with your likeness captured on traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, and even doorbell cameras.

All this video also means there is a higher chance that when a doctor has had a complaint filed against them with the Illinois Medical Board, the evidence of allegations may also include video.

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Chicago professional license defense lawyerIn Illinois, there are a number of occupations that require obtaining a professional license. Each type of license is issued by a particular board and that board has oversight over license holders. All of these boards fall under the umbrella of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

There are a number of issues that could threaten that professional license’s standing in the state, including accusations of negligence, malpractice, substance abuse issues, insurance fraud, and more. Although each board has its own set of rules and regulations, the one issue that can result in the suspension of a professional license no matter what type of occupation is failure to pay court-ordered child support.

Illinois Child Support Laws

The family court system in Illinois takes the duties of both parents when it comes to the care of children very seriously. Under the law, every parent – whether the child lives with them or not – has a legal responsibility to provide for the needs of that child. A parent who has been ordered to pay child support but fails to abide by the court’s order faces serious penalties for that failure.

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Illinois license defense attorneyThere are a number of different categories of professional licenses that fall under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Many of these professions have their own boards, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, real estate agents, dentists, psychologists, and more. Any individual who is required to apply for a professional license in order to work in their profession is also required to adhere to all the rules and regulations the IDFPR has put in place.

When an allegation or complaint is made against a professional license holder, the IDFPR will initiate an investigation to determine if the complaint is a legitimate one and, if it is, if action should be taken against the individual’s license. That action can include probation, suspension, or even complete revocation. Given the potential consequences of an investigation, anyone who has been informed they are under investigation should contact a professional license defense attorney immediately.

The following are some of the reasons why you should contact Williams & Nickl, LLC if you have been notified by the IDFPR that you are under investigation.

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Chicago professional license defense attorneyUnder Illinois law, all physicians, chiropractors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals are required to obtain a professional license through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). A person who practices medicine without a valid professional license is committing a crime under Illinois law and a conviction could result in potential jail time.

Practicing Without a License

When an individual gives medical advice or medical treatment, but that individual does not hold a current valid medical license, Illinois law says they are guilty of the unauthorized practice of medicine. This includes engaging in any of the following activities:

  • Diagnosing conditions
  • Issuing prescriptions for medications
  • Performing surgery
  • Advertising or attempting to advertise the practice

If a patient suffered any type of harm because of the unauthorized practice, the individual could also face additional criminal charges.

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Illinois social worker license defense lawyerIt takes great dedication and commitment to be an Illinois social worker. After all, one of the main duties of the profession is helping people navigate through difficult life situations. Many times, it is the most vulnerable that a social worker is helping, such as children and the elderly.

The majority of social workers are never named in any ethical complaints or arrested on charges of wrongdoing in the course of their job. Some say that the cost of liability and malpractice insurance for social workers is proof of the low rate of incidences – the premiums much lower than they are for malpractice insurance for other healthcare professionals.

Unfortunately, despite the low numbers, there are situations where a social worker may be notified by the Illinois Social Work Examining and Disciplinary Board that they are under investigation due to an allegation made by a third party. If this happens to you, make sure you contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney immediately.

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shutterstock_1296289726-min.jpg Being accused of a criminal act can be stressful enough. When you hold a medical license, not only do you have to defend yourself against the charges, but you will likely need to defend your medical license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). If you are arrested, your first reaction may be to keep this news as quiet as possible, however, under the rules of the Illinois Medical Board, you are required to notify the board if you are facing certain criminal charges.

Felony Defenses

Under the rules of the IDFPR, a doctor is required to self-report if they have been arrested for any felony offense. One of the most common crimes that medical professionals are arrested for is healthcare fraud. These charges are usually brought forth by federal prosecutors since they usually involve fraud against Medicare or Medicaid. These allegations are very serious – not only does the accused face prison time and hefty fines if they are convicted, but their professional future is also in jeopardy since it also could mean loss of medical license or at the very least, loss of provider status.

Examples of the most recent cases of healthcare fraud arrests include:

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