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Siddiaui v. Illinois Department of Professional Regulation

September 28, 1999

JAWED SIDDIQUI, M.D., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
V.
THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION AND LEONARD SHERMAN, DIRECTOR, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 97MR314

Honorable Donald M. Cadagin Judge Presiding

On October 7, 1996, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (Department), appellee, filed a complaint against Dr. Jawed Siddiqui, plaintiff, under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 (Medical Practice Act) (225 ILCS 60/1 et seq. (West 1992)), seeking revocation or suspension of his license to practice medicine for allowing another person, James Summers, to use his license (225 ILCS 60/22(A)(11) (West 1992)) and for aiding and abetting Summers in the practice of medicine (225 ILCS 60/22(A)(32) (West 1992)). On November 6, 1997, the Department suspended Siddiqui's license for six months. Siddiqui appeals, arguing (1) the petition should have been dismissed for technical defects; (2) Summers' actions did not constitute the practice of medicine; (3) insufficient evidence showed Siddiqui aided and abetted him in these actions; (4) the Department committed several evidentiary errors; (5) the report of the hearing officer was not properly served on him; and (6) the sanction was too severe. We affirm.

The Department's complaint alleged Siddiqui allowed Summers keys and access to his office between June 1993 and June 1995 and that, in this period, Siddiqui allowed Summers to treat and diagnose several patients, including, but not limited to Carol Underwood, Willie Hall, Ruby Hall, Regina Bell, Rita Haas, Mary Haas, Tracee Underwood, Richard Bliven, and Janet Boxderfer. The complaint alleged Siddiqui allowed Summers to write prescriptions for these patients using his name.

On November 13, 1996, Siddiqui filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Title 68, section 1110.210 of the Illinois Administrative Code (Code) (68 Ill. Adm. Code §1110.210 (1996)), arguing the complaint did not comply with the Code. Siddiqui argued, in pertinent part, the complaint did not afford him due process because it failed to set forth specific dates when people were treated by, or received prescriptions from, Summers. On November 18, 1996, the motion to dismiss was denied in an order stating the Department was to disclose its case file by December 9, 1996. The Department did so.

On April 10, 1997, an administrative hearing was held before a hearing officer.

On June 26, 1997, the hearing officer issued a report finding Siddiqui had allowed Summers to use his license and had aided and abetted him in the unlicensed practice of medicine. The report recommended that Siddiqui's license to practice medicine be revoked for six months, to be followed by a year of supervised probation. He was also ordered to complete 75 hours of continuing medical education. Siddiqui was notified of the hearing officer's decision on September 10, 1997.

On September 3, 1997, the Medical Disciplinary Board of the Department (Board) adopted the findings of the hearing officer. The Board also adopted the recommended sanction, making changes not relevant here. Siddiqui filed a petition for rehearing. On November 6, 1997, defendant, the Department's Director (Director), now Leonard Sherman, denied Siddiqui's motion for a rehearing and adopted the findings and recommendations of the Board. On October 15, 1998, the circuit court affirmed the Director.

In its answer to Siddiqui's motion to reconsider the hearing officer's decision, the Department cited for the first time two provisions of the Medical Practice Act which, it argued, provide guidance on the practice of medicine. See 225 ILCS 60/49, 50 (West 1992). Section 49 of the Medical Practice Act sets forth conduct that violates that act in practicing medicine without a license and section 50 of the Medical Practice Act defines the misdemeanor offense of the practice of medicine without a license.

These citations prompted Siddiqui to raise three related arguments. Siddiqui first argues the administrative complaint should have been dismissed because it failed to cite applicable rules or statutes, as required by the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (Procedure Act) (5 ILCS 100/10-25(a)(3) (West 1992)). See 225 ILCS 60/47 (West 1992) (Procedure Act applies to proceedings under the Medical Practice Act). Second, Siddiqui argues the trial court erred by taking judicial notice of these statutes without giving him notice as required by the Procedure Act. See 5 ILCS 100/10-40(c) (West 1992); 735 ILCS 5/8-1001 (West 1992) (circuit court's power to recognize a statute is treated as a matter of judicial notice). Third, Siddiqui argues the circuit court erred by failing to define "the practice of medicine" specifically as part of its analysis.

The complaint was sufficient, even though it did not cite the above sections of the Medical Practice Act. The charges filed before an administrative agency need not be drawn with the precision required of pleadings in judicial actions. They need only be drawn sufficiently so that the alleged wrongdoer is reasonably apprised of the case against him to intelligently prepare his defense. Rasky v. Department of Registration & Education, 87 Ill. App. 3d 580, 585, 410 N.E.2d 69, 75 (1980).

The Procedure Act specifically requires a complaint to include "[a] reference to the particular Sections of the substantive and procedural statutes and rules involved." 5 ILCS 100/10-25(a)(3) (West 1992). However, this does not require a reference to every relevant section of the Medical Practice Act. This would be impractical, since the parties may reasonably disagree on which sections are relevant. The Procedure Act only requires the respondent be told the charge against him and the procedure being invoked, as they are reflected in the statutory scheme. The complaint informed Siddiqui he was being charged with allowing another to use his license (225 ILCS 60/22(A)(11) (West 1992)) and aiding another in the unlicensed practice of medicine (225 ILCS 60/22(A)(32) (West 1992)). The complaint included cites to these two sections of the Medical Practice Act. This was sufficient.

Sections 49 and 50 were properly raised for the first time in argument. Section 49 does not define the practice of medicine, but sets out violations in holding oneself out to the public as being engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of an ailment or disease without a license. See 225 ILCS 60/49 (West 1992). This provision applies here only by analogy. While section 50 defines the crime of practicing medicine without a license (225 ILCS 60/50 (West 1992)), it does not define the practice of medicine. It merely provides a nonexhaustive list of some conduct that constitutes the practice of medicine.

Siddiqui argues the judicial notice provisions of the Procedure Act required the Department to give him notice before it recognized sections 49 and 50 of the Medical Practice Act. A circuit court's power to recognize a statute is treated as a matter of judicial notice. 735 ILCS 5/8-1001 (West 1992). The Procedure Act allows an agency to take judicial notice of any matter of which a circuit court may take judicial notice. However, the agency must first give the parties an opportunity to contest the material so noticed. 5 ILCS 100/10-40(c) (West 1992). Here, these sections were expressly raised for the first time after the hearing, in the Department's response to Siddiqui's petition for rehearing.

An evidentiary error in an administrative proceeding will not warrant reversal unless it prejudiced a party. Lebajo v. Department of Public Aid, 210 Ill. App. 3d 263, 272, 569 N.E.2d 70, 76 (1990). Siddiqui does not contest the content or applicability of these sections of the Medical Practice Act. Moreover, Siddiqui could and did file a reply brief after these sections were raised in the petition for rehearing. Siddiqui argues he would have prepared his case differently had he known these provisions applied here. Section 10-25(a)(3) of the Procedure Act, discussed above, is designed to give parties the chance to prepare their legal arguments in advance of the hearing. Section 10-40(c) is not. Section 10-40(c) allows the agency to give the respondent notice of the material during the hearing itself. 5 ILCS 100/10-40(c) (West 1992).

Siddiqui argues the hearing officer, the Board and the Director erred by failing to define the "practice of medicine" explicitly as part of its analysis. An order of suspension must contain a brief, concise statement of the grounds upon which the Department's action is based. 225 ILCS 60/40 (West 1992). The Procedure Act also requires that a final decision must include findings of fact and Conclusions of law, separately stated. 5 ILCS 100/10-50(a) (West 1992).

The trial court was not required to define the practice of medicine specifically as part of its analysis. Section 22 of the Medical Practice Act provides the Department, upon recommendation of the Board, shall adopt rules that set forth standards to be used in determining several violations and terms under the Medical Practice Act. 225 ILCS 60/22 (West 1992). It does not require the Department to define "the practice of medicine." The Department is not required to set forth explicit standards defining the practice of medicine. See Nelson ...


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