A state senator says receiving a license to practice medicine in Illinois is a privilege—not a right. This is what (R-IL) of Hinsdale wants physicians and health care workers who are losing their licenses because they have been convicted of sexual and violent crimes to know.
He sponsored a bill, now law, that will strip the licenses of physicians and health care workers convicted of sexual and violent crimes.
“It was ridiculous that a doctor who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a patient was still allowed to continue practicing medicine," Dillard said. "A sex offender is prohibited from driving a school bus, yet a convicted sex offender could have treated a child as a patient. Would you want a sex offender as your obstetrician or gynecologist? Now the law is clear: A convicted sex offender will not practice medicine in Illinois.
According to Dillard's office, the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has reportedly begun the process of rescinding the licenses of more than 35 doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are registered sex offenders—with more revocations planned. Several health care workers targeted by the legislation have filed lawsuits questioning whether the law can be applied retroactively.
“I was very clear during floor debate on the legislation that it was my intent to never have a convicted sex offender practice medicine in Illinois again,” Dillard said. “Double jeopardy in criminal law is different than the state licensure process. Receiving a license to practice medicine is a privilege, and as such it can be revoked when that trust is broken.”
Prior to the new law, a health care worker could have received jail time for sexually assaulting a patient, but they would not have immediately lost their license to practice medicine. Dillard sponsored legislation to change this practice after a Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed a number of Illinois doctors had been convicted, but none of their licenses had been permanently revoked.
“I’m the father of two young daughters. It made my blood boil when I realized that convicted sex offenders were still potentially working as pediatricians, or given positions of trust working with disabled individuals or the elderly,” Dillard explained. “The new law addresses a former disconnect between law enforcement and the state’s regulation of doctors to insert common sense into the system.”