Illinois Patients May be Placed at Risk After Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Cuts Number of Medical Complaints Investigators
Due to a reported $9.6 million budget shortfall, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation recently laid off 18 of the organization’s 26 medical investigators and regulatory staff. According to department officials, the move will have a dramatic effect on medical licensing and physician disciplinary matters throughout Illinois. Organization spokesperson Sue Hofer, said the remaining eight positions will include one licensing position, two to three investigators, one medical coordinator and more than one attorney. She added that the decreased staffing levels will reportedly result in delays of at least one year for all new and reissued Illinois medical licenses.
A professional licensing backlog may only serve to increase criticism of the organization. In 2012, four full-time staff and a number of temporary workers allegedly processed more than 2,300 temporary medical licenses for new physicians. In addition, Illinois doctors are required to renew their medical licenses every three years. An estimated 46,000 physicians will be required to renew their professional license by July 2014. New doctors and individuals who move to the state will likely be affected sooner.
Many in the medical community are alarmed by the staffing cuts. Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a national consumer advocate, said the cuts pose a danger to the health and safety of Illinois residents because they greatly reduced the state’s ability to investigate and police medical professionals. In addition, some hospitals expressed concern regarding the effect the cuts would have on their own staffing levels. According to Dr. Joshua Goldstein, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at Northwestern University, both training programs and patient care will be impacted if new residents are unable to secure their medical licenses in a timely fashion.
Hofer said the staffing headaches will also have an effect on the department’s ability to investigate and prosecute complaints regarding substandard physician care. The organization has come under attack in recent years for failing to adequately discipline Illinois doctors. In 2010, the Chicago Tribune reportedly uncovered at least 16 convicted sex offenders who held a valid Illinois medical license. Although new legislation requires that all health care workers who are convicted of certain crimes permanently lose their medical license and established additional requirements aimed at doctors accused of harming patients, Hofer said funding cuts make complying with the law difficult.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other health care professional fails to provide a patient with the prevailing standard of medical care. Medical malpractice may also result when doctor fails to properly diagnose or treat a medical condition. If you were hurt after you received negligent medical care, you should contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer.
If you were injured or a loved one died as a result of medical provider negligence, do not hesitate to contact the hardworking attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. Our capable Chicago Metro medical malpractice lawyers are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to assist you with your personal injury case. For a free consultation with a committed personal injury attorney, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596.
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Agency that polices doctors to slash staff, by Deborah L. Shelton and Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune
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