The Chicago personal injury attorneys from Zneimer & Zneimer p.c. saw in the Chicago Tribune that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the agency that investigates complaints about doctors announced that it will be eliminating 18 of 26 positions in the medical unit. The cutbacks will drastically hinder the ability of the agency to investigate complaints regarding doctor misconduct.
The remaining eight positions will most likely consist of three lawyers, two or three investigators and one licensing position.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Research Group voiced his concern, stating: “They are greatly reducing their ability to investigate and properly police doctors.” He further stated: “This is a major threat to the health and safety of the people of Illinois.”
The cutbacks come at a time when the agency was required to create a new full time position for an employee to create and maintain a website that will have profiles and background information on doctors in the state.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is also charged with issuing physicians’ licenses. The process usually takes six to eight weeks but with the cutbacks it is likely to take much longer. This will greatly affect Illinois hospitals the count on recent medical graduates to fill up residency positions. If there is a big delay in the time these doctors can obtain their licenses, many hospitals might become short on doctors.
Dr. Joshua Goldstein, associate dean for the graduate medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of medicine voiced his concern: “The inability to secure medical licenses for our residents and fellows in a timely fashion from the IDFRP will have a significant negative impact on our training programs and on patient care at the hospitals in which our residents and fellows train.” He continued;”This is true not only for Northwestern and its affiliates but for every hospital in the state of Illinois that trains residents and fellows.”
Renewing a license could have delays up to 18 months which means some doctor’s licenses will certainly expire before they are renewed. This presents a big problem for doctors since it is illegal to treat patients without a valid license.
IDFRP spokeswoman Sue Hofer stated the staffing cuts “will slow down our ability to investigate complaints against doctors who have done something problematic and slow down our ability to prosecute cases.”
Given the lack of oversight of doctors in Illinois, the only means to holding a doctor accountable for negligent medical care or other transgressions will be to seek out a medical malpractice attorney.
Agency that polices doctors to slash staff, By Deborah L. Shelton and Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune