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What is a Chaperone Order and How to Respond

Accusations of assault, sexual assault, or criminal battery are always serious. But when it is a licensed health care provider who has been charged with such crimes by a patient, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) may issue a Chaperone Order. The purpose of a Chaperone Order is to protect the patients with which an accused provider may come into contact while the court case against that provider is pending. It is a measure intended to allow a health care provider to clear his or her name while IDFPR conducts its investigation into whether the provider’s professional license should be disciplined. 

When criminal charges of a sexual or violent nature are filed against a licensed health care provider in the state of Illinois, IDFPR is typically notified by the prosecuting attorney. When this happens, the Department will then send that worker a Chaperone Order, which requires the provider to “immediately cease professional practice and not to resume practice with patient encounters until authorized to do so by the Department pursuant to an approved plan of compliance” (Section 1130.230). The licensed health care provider has five days to submit a written plan of compliance that names one or more other licensed health care providers willing to act as that person’s chaperone. The plan of compliance must include all of the contact information for each chaperone, the days, hours, and locations of all planned practice, and the method the chaperone will use to document his or her presence during all patient encounters (1130.230). Essentially, a Chaperone Order requires an accused health care provider to be accompanied by a responsible and licensed person at all times during interactions with patients. The accused provider is effectively banned from any patient encounters without the presence of an approved chaperone, or risks permanently losing his or her professional license.

While such orders are not frequent, they are also not that rare. For example, in April 2018, a licensed clinical social worker was placed under a Chaperone Order after she was charged with criminal offenses against a patient that, if found guilty, would require her to register as a sex offender. While the exact nature of her offense is not listed in the Department’s report, it does raise the possibility that the crime of which she had been accused included some form of criminal battery, inappropriate sexual conduct, or similar offense during a patient’s care and treatment.

While receiving a Chaperone Order is never pleasant, a health care worker who has received one may wonder how best to respond. Past court cases show that Chaperone Orders have been challenged in court by accused health care providers, but not always successfully. For example, in Bradley Hiroshi Hayashi, D.C., et al. v. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, 2014 IL 116023 (October 17, 2014), one chiropractor and two physicians unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the Chaperone Act. In the years preceding the court case, these three health care providers had been charged with offenses, including misdemeanor battery for inappropriately touching a patient during treatment, misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse for inappropriately touching a female patient, and misdemeanor battery for sexual misconduct with female patients. As a result, all three had their professional licenses permanently revoked by the Department. Rather than try to protest the revocations with claims of innocence, these plaintiffs instead tried to argue that the revocation of their licenses was unconstitutional. Unfortunately for them, the court disagreed with their arguments and ruled in favor of the IDFPR.

If you find yourself charged with crimes against a patient and facing a Chaperone Order or other disciplinary action, the best thing that you can do is to hire an attorney with expertise in front of IDFPR and with administrative law. Most general practice and criminal attorneys, while skilled at these areas of law, will not know how to correctly handle challenges to a health care provider’s professional license. If your professional license and reputation are on the line, you need the best and most experienced advocate in the state to argue on your behalf.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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