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Illinois law prohibits sex offenders from practicing medicine

Physicians and other health care professionals convicted of a sex crime, forcible felony or patient battery will be prohibited from practicing in Illinois under a new state law. Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 1271 into law July 21. It mandates that the licenses of physicians, dentists, nurses, optometrists, physical therapists and other health professionals convicted of such crimes be immediately and permanently revoked without a hearing by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. Those with convictions in other states who apply for Illinois medical licenses will be denied. "We must stand up strong against the violence and crime that destroys communities," Quinn said. "Whether they are at the doctor's office or in the streets of their own neighborhood, families and citizens should feel safe and protected." The Illinois State Medical Society applauded the law, which it supported in the Legislature, said society President Wayne V. Polek, MD, an anesthesiologist from St. Charles, Ill. "No patient, under any circumstance, should have to worry about the specter of sexual abuse when seeking health care," he said. The law requires the Illinois State's Attorney Office to notify the professional regulation department within five days of any criminal charges against a licensed health professional involving sexual misconduct, patient battery or a forcible felony. The department then will issue an administrative order requiring the charged individual to have another licensed health professional chaperone all patient visits until the case is resolved. Patients would have to sign a written notice explaining the reason for the chaperone, according to the law. A breach of trust Enactment of the law came more than a year after a series of articles by the Chicago Tribune showed that doctors convicted of sexual crimes continued to practice in Illinois, said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, one of the law's sponsors. "It was ludicrous that a doctor who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a patient was still allowed to continue practicing medicine," he said. "They wouldn't be allowed to drive a school bus, yet a convicted sex offender could potentially treat a child as a patient. No longer will there be any question of a sexual offender working with patients, despite having violated the law, their code of ethics and the public trust." In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed a law on June 17 requiring revocation of the medical license of any physician convicted of sexual assault or indecency with a child. Physicians arrested for such crimes will have their medical licenses temporarily suspended or their practices restricted. The Federation of State Medical Boards doesn't track such legislation and is not aware of any other state with a similar law, said Lisa Robin, FSMB chief advocacy officer. "Obviously, cases of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct are a high priority for state medical boards," she said. "It should be a high priority for boards, because it can cause so much damage, especially to patient-physician trust." The full and original article can be found at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/08/15/prsd0817.htm
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