Illinois Pulls Health Care Licenses of Sex Offenders

Illinois yanked the licenses 11 of health care workers Monday citing a new law that bars registered sex offenders and people convicted of violent felonies from working in the field.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released the names of the health professionals, including six doctors and five registered nurses, after giving them 20 days to alert the department of any overturned convictions.

The law, which took effect over the weekend, allows the state to permanently revoke licenses without holding a hearing. Department officials said they'll release additional names later.

"The State takes its responsibilities to protect our residents seriously," Brent E. Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation said in a statement. "This new law establishes tough outcomes that are intended to shield Illinois patients from health care workers who have been convicted of sex offenses and certain violent crimes."

Of the 11 announced Monday, nine are registered sex offenders and two others were convicted of violent crimes. The convictions of the 11 include child pornography, indecent solicitation of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and battery. In at least two cases the victims were patients.

The names of the health care workers were posted online at the website of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The six doctors had been licensed in Carmi, Darien, Long Grove, Moline, Skokie and Streator. The nurses had been licensed in Beach Park, Blue Island, Chicago, Elgin and Lake Villa.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the 11 health care workers for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Illinois Department of Corrections records show one of them is serving time at Stateville Correctional Center for felony sexual abuse, sexual assault of child patients and manufacturing child pornography. Three of the doctors, all retired, declined to comment when contacted by the AP.

One registered nurse lives in Michigan, according to the state's sex offender registry, and didn't have a listed phone number. The others had phone numbers that were either disconnected, unlisted or rang numerous times without going to voicemail.

After receiving the state's notices, several health professionals filed lawsuits against the department arguing the law shouldn't apply to them. Spokeswoman Sue Hofer said the department won't release the names in those pending cases until they've been decided in court.

The state could add more names to the list because it doesn't include those who are involved in pending litigation.

The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that two Chicago-area doctors are among the professionals who filed lawsuits against the state. Mohammed Khaleeluddin of Rockford and

Ashvin Shah of Flossmoor claim in their lawsuits, filed last week in Cook County, that they've already been disciplined and their medical licenses were restored after temporary suspensions.

They claim the state is violating their right to due process by creating a "double jeopardy" situation for them.

Khaleeluddin was suspended from practicing medicine for three years after a conviction for sexual misconduct with female patients, according to Illinois regulatory records. He's been allowed to practice since 2000 and was fined $30,000.

Ashvin Shah's license was suspended for six years after a conviction for battery, the Tribune reported. He's been allowed to practice since 2001, according to Illinois records.

Neither physician returned phone messages from AP.

The new law also allows the state to impose restrictions on doctors and others in health care after charges have been filed, but before conviction. The state can require health care workers who've been charged with sex crimes or forcible felonies to see patients only in the presence of another health care worker who acts as a chaperone.

In Illinois, forcible felonies include crimes involving violence or the threat of violence.

The Illinois State Medical Society supported the legislation.

"No patient, under any circumstance, should have to worry about the specter of sexual abuse when seeking health care," said Dr. Wayne Polek, the doctors group's president, in a statement after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, said state regulators are acting to protect patients.

"I do not believe these doctors have a double jeopardy claim," said Dillard, an attorney, when asked about the lawsuits filed in Cook County by Khaleeluddin and Shah. "They're free to go practice medicine somewhere else. We just don't want them in Illinois."