This week the Chicago Tribune reported on steps taken by the state that revoked the licenses of nearly a dozen health care workers who have been convicted of violent crimes or sex crimes against their patients. The six physicians and five nurses who lost their ability to practice in the state were the first facing punishment under a new state law. Blog readers are aware of several new pieces of legislation that were passed by lawmakers this year to prevent Illinois medical malpractice and abuse.
It seems self-evident that those medical care providers who specifically commit crimes against their patients should not be able to endanger future patients after their conduct is uncovered. However, these potentially dangerous professionals had previously been able to continue to see patients even after these transgressions. Most of the new patients who saw these doctors and nurses had no idea that the individual had previously violated the trust of their patients. For example, an investigation last year found that at least 16 physicians had committed sex crimes against their patients in the last fifteen years with none of them ever being forced to stop seeing patients.
The eleven who lost their licenses this week had been convicted of crimes ranging from child pornography and battery of a patient to aggravated criminal sexual assault. The new law specifically targets dangerous Illinois doctors and requires regulators from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to revoke the medical license of healthcare workers convicted of sex crimes, forcible felonies, or misdemeanor battery of a patient. The state representative who sponsored the measure explained that the law was intended “to protect people from persons who are in positions of great trust and authority” who abuse their duty.
When a doctor forcible harms or sexually assaults a patient, it goes way beyond Illinois medical malpractice and into criminal abuse. Under no circumstances should those who commit these egregious acts be permitted to continue treating unsuspecting patients. This new law is an important step in the continual fight to keep patients safe from abusive and negligent medical professionals.
In our years of experience our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have come to understand that while most of those who work in the healthcare field are competent individuals who care about their patients, mistakes still arise. There are often life-altering consequences for the patient as a result of those mistakes. In those instances, it remains important for the victims to have recourse to be compensated for their losses.
In some cases, these healthcare workers not only make a mistake but engage in systematic neglect that injures many patients. When cases such as that arise it is essential for steps to be taken to ensure that the chronic abuser is no longer allowed to harm future patients. In the past, there was often minimal punishment for those who repeatedly injured those in their care. Hopefully this law will be a helpful way to improve upon that record and hold repeat abusers accountable. The health, well-being, and safety of so many community members hinges on these decisions.
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