March 19, 2008

Illinois state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice

What is the professional standard of practice for physicians?

While Illinois law does not explicitly state the standard to which physicians must adhere, the American Medical Association (“AMA”) offers guidance through its “Principles of Medical Ethics.” Specifically, the AMA dictates that a physician must:

• be dedicated to providing competent medical care with compassion and respect;

• uphold standards of professionalism (i.e., practice honesty in professional interactions, report fraud or deficiency of other physicians);

• respect the law and advocate for the best interests of the patients;

• respect rights of patients, colleagues, and other professionals, as well as protect patient privacy;

• continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, and share such knowledge with the community;

• be free to choose whom to serve (except in emergencies), with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical care;

• recognize a responsibility to participate in activities that improve the community;

• regard responsibility to the patient as paramount;

• support access to medical care for all people;

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What is considered dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional behavior?

In determining whether a physician engaged in dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional behavior, the Board will determine whether the physician violated ethical standards of the profession (e.g., safeguarding patient confidence and records, respecting the rights of patients, and providing service with compassion and respect). Additionally, the Board will evaluate whether:

• the physician breached his/her responsibility to a patient;

• he/she was not qualified to render specific care;

• the physician delegated responsibility for patient care to anyone who was not properly supervised or lacked the competence for such responsibility;

• the physician caused harm;

• the physician is reasonably likely to cause harm in the future

Physician activities the Board may consider questionable include:

• being convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, fraud, or misstatement;

• delegating responsibility for patient care to an individual the physician believes may not be competent;

• misrepresenting educational background or credentials;

• failing to properly supervise staff;

• committing an act/omission that breaches the physician’s responsibility to the patient under accepted medical standards of practice.

68 Ill. Adm. Code 1285.40(a)

What is considered to be “immoral conduct?”

A physician’s acts will be considered immoral conduct if the conduct:

• demonstrates moral indifference to the opinions of the members of the profession;

• is harmful to the public;

• takes advantage of a patient’s vulnerability;

• is committed in the course of practice of medicine

The Board may use the following standards in order to determine whether a physician’s act constitutes immoral conduct:

• taking advantage of a patient’s vulnerability in violation of established codes of professional behavior for a physician;

• unethical conduct with a patient that results in the patient engaging in unwanted personal, financial or sexual relationships with the physician;

• conducting experiments or testing new drugs on humans unless it is approved and authorized by the Illinois Department of Public Health;

• committing an act that is so obviously distasteful that it violates codes of behavior or codes of ethics;

• Violating common standards of decency or propriety in a relationship with the patient.

68 Ill. Admin. Code 1285.40(b).

How does the board determine if a physician has committed gross negligence?

The Board defines gross negligence as an act/omission in which the physician is reckless or careless toward a patient or disregards the safety or well being of that patient.

68 Ill. Adm. Code 1285.40(c)

Copyright © Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.

Updated 2008