Illinois Professional Licensing FAQ

About Investigations

The majority of all licensees reside and conduct business in the Cook and its collar county area, and the majority of complaints received by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation require investigation in that region. Thus, the Enforcement Division is headquartered in Chicago. The Downstate licensees may be investigated by the Springfield office. Three enforcement teams-Medical, Health Related, and General-have Chicago and Springfield offices. Completed investigations in which there appears to be sufficient evidence of a violation are forwarded to the Department's prosecutions staff for review. It will help in your overall disciplinary process to seek advice of counsel at this point and to refrain from becoming too emotional at this point since a formal complaint has not yet been filed and you can continue practicing your profession.

About Discipline

Once investigated, cases are assigned to a prosecuting attorney, and may be more fully investigated but with a focus toward filing formal administrative charges against the licensee for specific violations. If the staff attorney concludes that the matter has been sufficiently investigated and there is evidence supporting the complaint, formal charges will be filed. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the licensee may enter into a settlement involving a discipline being imposed. If an agreement cannot be reached, a formal complaint will be filed. Once a formal complaint is filed, an administrative hearing will be held conducted by the board pertaining to your license and an administrative law judge.

About the Narcotics, Alcohol And Drug Division

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will take action against your license or attempt to refuse to issue and or renew your license if it learns of a drug and or alcohol issue. If you believe that you have an issue, the single best approach is to get help now. Our firm has extensive experience in getting you help acceptable by the Department with health care providers that are most often less expensive than those that may have been referred to you already. Every case is handled differently based on the facts so it is wise to consult with an attorney, and our firm has a selection of consultants in your area of practice to help guide you through the process.

The Application Process

What Forms Do I Need?

To begin the Licensure process you need to submit an application form. All forms relevant to your area of practice are on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website. The Acts and Rules for each profession can be accessed from the Department's Home Page.

When Will I Get A Renewal Form?

In most cases, a renewal notice will be sent to you in the mail approximately two months prior to the expiration date of your license. It is crucial to always keep your address updated.

What's The Difference Between A Nonrenewed And An Inactive License?

A nonrenewed license is a license that has not been renewed or placed on inactive status. An inactive license is a license that has been placed on inactive status by the licensee, usually at renewal time. Typically, you do not have to pay lapsed renewal fees if your license is placed on inactive status. If a license is nonrenewed or inactive for five years or longer, it may be necessary to submit a restoration application and additional documentation; depending on the profession. You may not practice in Illinois when your license is nonrenewed or inactive.

What Does An "Intent To Deny" Letter Mean?

After filling out an application or renewal form you may receive an "intent to deny" your application. Sometimes you may receive a "notice" to meet with the board. Either way, there are "issues" with your application that need to be discussed with the board. The majority of issues deal with previous criminal convictions and disciplinary actions from previous states. In these cases, it is wise to consult with legal counsel. Bear in mind that any "false" information or lack thereof on the application will make the underlying allegation that much harder to resolve.

The Investigation Process

How Does An Investigation Start?

The investigation process at IDFPR can be initiated in different ways. A licensee may have received a complaint to the Department, may have provided certain information on an application or renewal form, or another State or Federal agency may have put the Department on notice of its own adjudication. At this point, the Department will assign your case to an investigator who will open up a file and an IR report under your name and license number.

How Should I React?

The investigative stage is not the time to hit " the panic button" or to stop continuing your practice. You may either hear from an investigator from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation by telephone or in person. You might also receive a request for documentation related to the investigation. Despite not being prevented from practicing your trade at this point, it is wise to cooperate with the investigation in an effort to start off on the right foot with the IDFPR. This does not mean turn over any documents or speak to an investigator without advice of counsel, but refusing to return a phone call is not the best method to proceed. Bear in mind that every complaint that is processed by the Illinois Department of Financial Regulation must be investigated so try not take it personal.

How Do I Know Who Made A Complaint Against My License At The Department?

If you settle a malpractice case or are found negligent in a malpractice trial, you are automatically reported to the Department. If you are convicted in a criminal, the prosecutor is required to report you to the Department. Also, an individual can initiate a formal grievance to the Department via the telephone or through its IDFPR website complaint intake process. Oftentimes a licensee knows who has filed a grievance against his or her license, however pursuant to Illinois law the Department does not have to reveal the complainant unless it files formal complaint or requests that you meet for an informal conference. In other words, during the investigation stage, the Department will keep the complainants' name private, but if it wants to try to discipline your license, it must reveal that individual's identity.

Investigator's Approach

Most investigators from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation are former State and Federal enforcement officers who are quite familiar with all of the techniques useful to illicit information. All IDFPR investigators practice ethical behavior, but you must be careful not to be put at too much "ease" while responding to questions they might ask. During an IDFPR investigation you are most likely not subject to a criminal investigation and therefore the "Miranda Warning" will not apply. The easiest way to tell if you are the subject of a criminal investigation is if the investigator is accompanied by a staff attorney from the Attorney General's office, the DEA, the FBI or any other agency with criminal jurisdiction.

Am I Required To Comply?

Despite what you may think and despite what the Investigator tells you, you do not have to subject yourself to an interview. Many licensees have reported that their failure to comply, however, has made things worse and there is merit to that philosophy. You are always entitled to speak with legal counsel and have one present throughout the entire investigation. Many licensees have the false impression that the investigators are part of the decision-making process, which they are not, but the more compliance with them the better. Having legal counsel at this stage is crucial and will in no way affect the way the Department perceives you.

What Should I Do If The Investigator Requests Documents From Me?

Oftentimes an investigator will request documentation from you as part of the investigation. In this situation, you can refuse this request and suggest that they send you a subpoena, which will now give you legal standing to object to their request. Many licensees suggest that if the documentation is not "damaging" to your case and in fact may "help" your cause, you may want to consider turning it over. Most licensees don't realize that during the investigative stage you can actually be doing a lot of mitigation by providing your own evidence to the board. This information would typically have not been given, unless it had been provided to your investigator. As far as patient medical records, you are required to get authorization by the way of release. This release is generally provided by the investigator for you.

The Disciplinary Process

What Is The First Step Of The Disciplinary Process?

Once your matter has been assigned to a staff attorney, from an investigator, you will be given notice as to what happens next by the staff attorney. Be careful because, oftentimes, licensees move residences and offices and forget to notify the Department. This will result in a Default Suspension if you don't respond to the notice. The notice will either be a "disciplinary conference" notice to meet with your designated board related to your license, or an actual formal complaint. A formal complaint will include a preliminary hearing date to appear in front of an administrative law judge for an initial status date. A "disciplinary conference" notice sounds worse than it is because of the use of the word "disciplinary." It is still, however, an opportunity on the licensees' part to meet on an "informal" basis with a staff attorney and a board member. The focus will be on trying to resolve the matter without having IDFPR file a formal complaint. If a formal complaint is filed, there is still an opportunity on most occasions to meet "informally." Should this occur, an appearance must be made in front of an administrative law judge. The judge will answer the complaint and set your matter for a hearing if it cannot be resolved in the "informal stage."

What Is The "Informal Process"?

If you are given a notice of Disciplinary Conference, it is highly recommended that you appear at the scheduled date and time. Not only can you dispose of your matter without a formal complaint at this point, but you can prevent a formal complaint from being filed against your license. The notice will inform the allegations against you and provide you with a list of documents to bring, at the time. You will need to meet with a staff attorney and a member of the board designated for your license. Information, relevant to your case, must be provided and questions answered in an effort to have the matter closed. If the case cannot be closed, there are disciplinary settlement options such as a fine, reprimand, a probation, and a suspension. Most licensees will tell you that having legal counsel at this stage is imperative. If your case is closed, you will not have to deal with the Department unless you receive a "letter of concern." This letter is mailed to your address and not posted on the Department website. Any other forms of discipline are negotiated into a stipulation called a "consent order." The consent order is signed by Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, you, and your legal counsel. A consent order is reportable to the IDFPR website and any other national practitioner databases.

What Is A Disciplinary Conference (Also Known As An Informal Conference)?

This is a meeting between yourself, an attorney for the Department and a member of the Disciplinary Board. At this meeting, you will have an opportunity to explain your side of the story, and the goal is to try to convince the Department to drop your case. The Conference is not a hearing. There is no court reporter, and there is no witness testimony. The Conference is essentially a conversation between you and the Board Member about the complaint against you.

How Do I Prepare Myself For A Disciplinary Or Informal Conference?

The Answer to this question is to simply prepare yourself the same way you would prepare yourself for a formal hearing. The Department often times uses the "Informal" process to intimidate and encourage licensees to settle cases without having to put in the time and resources of having to prepare itself for a formal hearing. In doing so, it has every expectation that you provide it with a full an accurate defense to its allegations in the "Informal" stage. Furthermore, during the informal process there is always a member of your disciplinary board present at your conference who will be the same board member who will be advising the entire board if your matter results in a formal hearing. It is crucial to provide your attorney with any and all documentation sent to you by the Department and any and all relevant documentation relevant to it allegations. If your licensing attorney has not prepared you for an informal proceeding as if it was a "formal" hearing then you have most likely hired the wrong attorney.

Can I Be Disciplined For Matters That Are Not Work-Related?

The answer to this question is yes. Each and every licensee can be disciplined for any conduct outside of their place of employment including but not limited to criminal activity, failure to pay income taxes, failure to pay child support and the use of drugs and alcohol in an abusive manner. However, there is a level of due process that each and every individual enjoys under the Constitution and all of its amendments regarding activity that occurs away from the workplace environment.

Narcotics, Alcohol and Drug Division

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation takes excessive alcohol use, nonprescriptive narcotic use and narcotic diversion extremely serious. If you believe you have an issue, the best solution is to get professional help.

What Are The Most Likely Ways The IDFPR Will Discover These Issues?

The following are the most common ways this will occur:

  • DUI arrest
  • Narcotic Diversion report from facility
  • Complaint by patient, client or staff
  • Marijuana, cocaine or opiates in system during any required drug screen
  • Family member or loved one making a report to IDFPR regarding disease

What Will Happen Next?

If the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation doesn't file a formal complaint against your license with this issue, they will most likely send you a "notice of disciplinary conference" to meet with a board member from your designated license. Assuming there was not a false report made against you, which does happen, the best course of action is to get help and show the Department that you are doing so. Unfortunately, the IDFPR treats all alcohol and drug related issues the same. For example, someone who had a DUI ten years ago may be treated the same as someone who has diverted narcotics within weeks of their notice. In this scenario, it is best to consult with a legal representative who is familiar with the monitoring programs that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation accepts. The following are the best approaches to take when you are given notice of drug or alcohol related allegations:

  1. Seek help
  2. Consult with your internist or psychiatrist regarding your prescriptions
  3. consult with the Illinois Professional Health Programs "IPHP"
  4. Commit to random screening
  5. nbsp; Enter a 12-step program
  6. bsp; Consult with a licensing attorney

Often times the IDFPR will send you a probationary consent order to sign prior to instituting a case against you. Most practitioners describe these consent orders as "death sentences" because they make it next to impossible to practice with the probationary terms it provides. It is wise to show this consent order to an attorney who focuses in the area of licensing.

Contact our experienced lawyers in Chicago at 312-930-5600 today!