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Illinois Workplace Conduct LawyerDepending on where a physician works, there could be great relationships with nurses, or it could be very difficult. Although there is no blame or fault, some places have physicians and nurses working hand-in-hand and some experience stressful relationships between the providers. No matter, the vast majority of physicians and nurses want to have a strong working relationship with each other. In order to facilitate those relationships, there are some do’s and don’ts:

Communication is the first thing on which every provider can improve. You should let others know your expectations but also understanding the other side’s. Many times, a simple explanation can clear up what could have been a significant issue. Involving the nurses as much as possible and keeping them aware of what the physician is doing truly helps the relationship. Doing so will guide everyone to work together and limit the potential for antagonism and alienation.

The second goal is to improve one’s ability to understand. A common scenario is the one-upmanship game inherent in complaining/bragging as to who works the most hours or who has had the roughest shift. The easiest way to stop this is to practice ‘understanding.’ Knowing that both of practitioners have hard jobs and that sometimes working in the hospital of office isn’t fun for anyone can help calm relationships between the professions. Both positions have different roles in patient care, both are supposed to work as a team, and understanding these roles will help reduce tension.

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Chicago Cannabis Defense LawyerIn January of 2020, Illinois became the latest state to legalize recreational cannabis. The question for physicians is now ‘may I use cannabis without fear of being fired from my job?’ The quick answer is, of course, it depends. The longer answer is: it depends on where you work and when you’re using it.

First, employers can stop you from possessing and using cannabis at work. They still have the ability to discipline you for the possession of cannabis on company property and will be able to test you for the drug under reasonable suspicion. The problem is that cannabis can remain in your system for weeks, and there is no current test to determine if you are impaired.

Second, Illinois has a nondiscrimination law that bars employers from discriminating against employees for legal activities done outside of work hours. We assume that because cannabis is legal that employers cannot prevent you from using it outside of work, but if some is impaired when reporting to work, how would an employer test for it?

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Chicago Doctor and Nurse LawyerOn March 20, 2020 Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10 (“Order”) which required all residents of Illinois to shelter in place. The Order was extended through April 30, 2020. The Order exempted all healthcare workers for the obvious reason that healthcare is a critical concern in the current global pandemic. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”) has recently posted on its website bulletins related to the healthcare industry, a number of which are entitled “Guidance.” The bulletins concern the temporary relicensing of retired and out-of-state healthcare non-licensed practitioners. None of these bulletins deal with ethical issues in providing healthcare services in a COVID-19 environment.

Specifically, there does not seem to be real guidance for the #1 question Williams and Nickl receives from clients: Must a doctor, PA or nurse remain working in a hospital or clinical setting in which they objectively believe the practice environment is a danger to themselves or their families? The answer is NO!

Even though politicians and science experts resort more and more to the “war” analogy, an Illinois healthcare worker cannot be charged with desertion. As an Illinois healthcare licensee, you are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to sacrifice your life or the health of your family. But all healthcare professions have an affirmative duty to avoid patient abandonment. In short, no doctor, nurse or PA can quit on the spur of the moment. All healthcare practitioners are required to arrange, in one form or another, for the continuity of patient care. What constitutes reasonable notice and arrangement for continuity of care varies widely by individual circumstances.

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Chicago Pharmacist LawyerAs of March 30, 2020, the DEA will allow oral prescriptions of schedule II controlled substances when:

  • they are needed for the proper treatment of a patient;
  • there are no appropriate treatment options; and,
  • when submitting an electronic or paper prescription to the pharmacy prior to dispensing the substance is not possible.

Physicians and other prescribers can make the determination to phone in the emergency schedule II script after reviewing the circumstances for each patient, and that review must include the above criteria. Clearly, not every controlled II prescription will be prescribed by phone.

Pharmacists must be aware of qualifications that apply before you can dispense that phone script. First, oral prescriptions are limited to only the adequate amount the patient needs right away. Schedule II prescriptions that go past this period are still subject to the requirement for paper or electronic submission. Second, pharmacists must put the script into writing ASAP, and must cover all of the required fields besides the prescriber’s signature. 

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Chicago Pharmacist AttorneyDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, patients in rural areas face difficulties already present in obtaining care, including poverty, inconsistent virus information, and lack of transportation. Pharmacies serving these populations are working extra-hard to ensure the best care in their communities.

One way community pharmacies can help is with mobile clinic options. A mobile clinic can provide clinical and education services to those with transportation challenges. In addition to offering a telephone service to patients who cannot come to the pharmacy, mobile clinics can be at the disposal of area health agencies as the pandemic expands. While it may seem that patient outreach services can and will be affected by COVID-19 just as other non-health related business, pharmacies are able to adjust as more info about the virus comes online. Some pharmacies have adopted best practices including working with county health departments, senior centers, and school districts to assist the community with support, medication and needed supplies.

Requests for delivery have risen dramatically, for obvious reasons, and some pharmacies have developed a way to coordinate deliveries with patients that limits in-person contact. It is important to remember that pharmacists must be available for follow-up care to those patients. Some pharmacies are pushing state Medicaid programs to issue waiver requests for reimbursements on home delivery, which is critical due to the small margins that community pharmacies already endure.

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