Misrepresenting Credentials and Professional Discipline

Misrepresenting Credentials and Professional Discipline

Example of Illinois Doctor Misrepresenting Credentials and Professional Discipline

Professionals must be careful not to misrepresent their credentials, especially when testifying as experts in court. In a recent complaint leading to professional discipline, an Illinois doctor was reprimanded for failing to identify certain certifications as expired. In the case where the doctor failed to specify his certifications had expired, the judge made a finding that the doctor’s testimony was misleading, leading to the complaint and discipline.  

“Professionals should be aware that knowingly or unknowingly misrepresenting or failing to update their credentials when testifying in depositions or in court exposes them to potential discipline. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) takes the position that such misrepresentation is unprofessional and a violation of the Illinois Medical Practice Act. I believe they would take the same position against any professional who misrepresents their credentials.” Michael V. Favia, Chicago IDFPR Attorney and Principal Attorney at Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C..

Because People Trust Doctors, Misrepresenting Credentials is Met with Professional Discipline

A judge or jury as the trier of fact, must be able to trust the testimony of experts who take an oath to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. When an expert testifies and is silent about a material fact, they mislead the court. When giving testimony about credentials, the judge or jury assumes the credentials identified are current and in good standing.

The doctor should have stated that he had the credentials he rightfully earned but should have clearly disclaimed any expired certifications. While the expiration might not have affected the doctor’s certification as a proper expert witness, the failure to bring it to anyone’s attention the certifications were expired puts in serious question the credibility of the doctor as a witness.

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The IDFPR is Responsible for Protecting the People of Illinois from Credential Misrepresentation

The IDFPR investigates complaints filed about professionals for many reasons including misleading acts. The Department may consider misrepresenting professional credentials misleading. The doctor testifying in court, failing to identify expired credentials, was disciplined by the IDFPR. For misrepresenting credentials while testifying the IDFPR fined the doctor $2,000 and ordered continuing education mandates.

But What if the Doctor Did Not Intend to Make a Misrepresentation?

When someone knowingly does something, they intend to act. Unknowingly doing something can be an act without intent or can be a failure to maintain a duty. Professionals should be aware of the status of their credentials and known expiration dates and renewal deadlines.

Putting aside a professional’s duty to be aware of their credentialing status, there are imaginable situations in which a professional does not know or might not have reason to know something about their status. In whatever that case may be, a Professional Licensing Attorney should be contacted promptly. Michael V. Favia is a former Chief of Prosecution for the Department and appreciates the weight and value of being proactive and communicating with regulatory agencies. Having worked on both sides of regulation, Favia is well-positioned to advise and represent doctors and similar professionals with IDFPR concerns.

Risk of Exposure to Complaints for Misrepresentation Regarding Credentials

As Michael V. Favia stated for this article, failing to update credentials when testifying in court can certainly trigger a complaint with the IDFPR. He believes the Department would take a similar position against any other type of professional practice or trade where credentials are misrepresented.

There are many resources and guides for properly displaying and listing your professional credentials and certifications. Credentials may be listed in print and in electronic form. Where they can be duplicated and shared it can be challenging to make sure that updates are properly made, and that those updates are made everywhere credentials are recorded and maintained.

Forming a Relationship with Professional Licensing and Chicago IDFPR Attorney Michael V. Favia

Licensed professionals should know a licensing attorney. From obtaining new licenses to coordinating multi-state licensure and responding to correspondence from regulatory agencies like the IDFPR, professionals should have representation. Should a professional ever be questioned, being able to respond that as a matter of custom and practice, the professional relies on the advice and representation of health care licensing counsel is valuable.

Agents for regulatory agencies and departments like IDFPR may find assurances in a professional who defers to the advice of legal counsel and respectfully allows their counsel to communicate professionally with departments on their behalf.

Proactive practices can prevent problems. From credentialing to care for a variety of rules and regulations, Chicago IDFPR Attorney Michael V. Favia can help you work to limit liability and exposure to risks facing professionals in healthcare and other licensed practices and trades. Contact Michael V. Favia & Associates online or call our main Chicago office at (773) 631-4580 to make an appointment and get to know a licensing defense attorney to advise and assist with professional regulation matters in your professional practice and reduce the risks of worrying about misrepresenting credentials and professional discipline.