© Gary Inglese
Dental Defense - Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations Defense - Dental-Legal Issues - Dental Risk Management - Dental Contracts and Business Issues - Dental Office Transitions
What do you do when your receptionist announces that an investigator from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is waiting to speak with you? How do you handle the unexpected telephone call?
First and foremost, don’t panic. Contact with the department is uncomfortable even for dentists who have done nothing wrong.
The following gives you an idea of what you can expect when contacted by IDFPR. It is not legal advice; for that you must consult with an attorney. Be truthful in your responses, but be careful in what you say until you know why IDFPR is at your door.
IDFPR representatives conduct two types of meetings: investigative conferences and disciplinary conferences. The former is scheduled by the investigator assigned to a specific case in order to collect factual information. Answers heard during these one- to two- hour sessions are recorded and documented in a report to the IDFPR dental coordinator. The coordinator decides if the case merits discipline and should be passed along to the Prosecution Unit.
An IDFPR prosecuting attorney schedules disciplinary conferences. A member of the Board of Dentistry also attends the 30-minute meeting to discuss disciplinary action against your license. I advise you to bring your attorney to this meeting, since your license to practice could be at risk.
When an investigator calls on you, there are several questions to consider. First, make sure you get the investigator’s name and telephone number. IDFPR investigators have business cards and carry identification.
Find out if you are the subject of the inquiry, or if the IDFPR wants information from you for some other reason. Is the investigator merely looking for patient records or will you be interviewed? Are they asking for information regarding a specific question?
Once you have determined some of the details, there are several questions for you to consider, and possible discuss with your attorney:
If the investigation concerns a patient, what is your status with the patient? Is this a current patient or are you a previous or subsequent treator? Have you had trouble with this patient because of treatment issues, insurance or collection problems? Are you involved in al lawsuit with the patient?
Does the IDFPR inquiry focus on your license to practice, your controlled substance license or prescriptions you have written? Can you document the continuing education courses you have taken for re-licensure, and are all your licenses current?
Have you had trouble with past employees? Have you had a recent argument or hostile exchange with a dental colleague? Are your auxiliaries practicing “advanced” expanded duties?
Do you advertise? What is the state of your dental records? Have you been previously disciplined by IDFPR? Have you paid your student loan obligations and child support? Do you owe money to the Illinois Department of Revenue?
If the investigator wants to meet with you but has arrived at an inconvenient time (like in the middle of the day, when you have patients waiting), ask to reschedule.
You may want to have your attorney present, especially if you are the subject of the investigation. Remember that the interviewer has been trained to collect information and will have access to more information than you do. However, you may represent yourself if you know that you are not the subject of the investigation or if you are comfortable with the material and certain you have done nothing wrong.
If you call an attorney, be open and honest with him, and listen to his advice. Be respectful of others during the conference.
The investigator will take written notes of what you say and will prepare a report, which you will not see. Any discussion you have with the investigator, whether in person or by telephone, casual conversations or formal questioning, may be documented in that report. Take your own notes so that you have a record of the discussion.
If you receive a release for patient records, make copies of records, including radiographs. Never surrender original records. Review all material given to IDFPR with your attorney.
If you or your attorney believe the outcome of the disciplinary conference is unsatisfactory, you may seek a formal hearing. The departmental attorney at the conference will explain how to request one.
Vold D.D.S., J.D., Michael. (2005, September/October). Unexpected visitors. CDS Review, 31.