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updated: 4/26/2011 6:19 AM

Dillard looks to revoke medical licenses from sex offenders

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  • Doctors convicted as sex offenders would lose their medical licenses under a proposal by state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.

    Doctors convicted as sex offenders would lose their medical licenses under a proposal by state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.

  • Kirk Dillard

    Kirk Dillard

By Jeff Engelhardt

SPRINGFIELD -- Registered sex offenders in Illinois are not allowed to drive school buses, but some could legally administer your annual checkup at the doctor's office.

Registered sex offenders don't automatically lose their licenses to practice medicine in Illinois, a fact that state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale seeks to change with a measure recently approved by the Illinois Senate.

Dillard said he was disturbed to hear some physicians who are registered sex offenders worked in suburbs so close to the area he represents.

Sixteen registered sex offenders in Illinois worked as physicians -- five in the suburbs -- though all but one of the suburban doctors have had their licenses indefinitely suspended, revoked or unrenewed.

The suburban offenders practiced in Elk Grove Village, Lombard, Winnetka, Buffalo Grove and Oak Brook.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation often suspends the licenses of physicians who are sex offenders, spokeswoman Sue Hofer said.

But Dillard said there is no reason doctors convicted of a sex crime shouldn't have their license revoked immediately.

"It made my blood boil to think that a convicted sex offender could still be working as a pediatrician," Dillard said. "Doctors are one of the last remaining professions in which people still place a lot of trust and believe they are safe in their care."

Medicaid fraud and controlled substance fraud are currently the only two offenses that result in immediate revocation of doctors' licenses.

Dillard's plan has been approved by the Senate and is awaiting debate in the House, where it is sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat.

But Hofer said there are some advantages to issuing suspensions instead of revoking licenses. Revocations last three years before the offender can reapply. But a suspension can last more than three years, she said. Still, the current policy allows for controversial decisions such as the case involving Oak Brook physician Nercy Jafari. Jafari was convicted of a sexual offense in a 2001 case involving a bikini wax laser treatment session and sentenced to 24 months of probation.

Jafari denied any wrongdoing, and a medical disciplinary board ruled the facts of the case were not strong enough to show he did not act with medical intent. The board allowed him to continue his practice so long as he had a chaperone present when examining a female patient.

"A lot of these cases are really hard to decide because it is a 'he said, she said' sort of thing," Hofer said.