Frequently Asked Questions

The information provided here is offered as a convenience to our members and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for the guidance you may receive from your legal counsel or other professional consultants.  This information provided below is from sources we believe to be reliable.

What are the rules in Illinois concerning "early refills" of eye drops for patients who have chronic eye conditions?

On January 1, 2016, a new law went into effect that requires health insurers who cover prescription topical eye medications to allow a refill of eye drops once 75% of the dosage period has been reached.  This provision will be of great benefit to patients who have difficulty administering eye drops and, as a result, "waste" some of the medicine.  Please refer to Public Act 099-0226 for the exact language of the law.

CLICK HERE for a downloadable fact sheet (in PDF format) that can be copied and given to patients.

How long must a doctor keep a patient's medical records?

Hospitals in Illinois must keep patient records for at least ten years, but there is no law stating how long physicians must keep medical records.

The Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC) has an article posted on their risk management webpage regarding this topic.  CLICK HERE to view the OMIC article.

Can a physician charge a patient for copies of medical records?

Updated March 2017 -- 
The US Department of Health and Human Services has released guidelines concerning individual access to protected health information.  This includes format, timeliness and copy fees, among other things.  Please note -- Federal Law (including the HIPAA regulations) supersedes state statutes.  Thus, the federal regulations take precedence over what the Illinois Comptroller's Office and Illinois state statutes provide.

The Illinois State Medical Society has published a guide concerning access and copying charges to individual medical records, including what the federal HIPAA rules require.  

CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy of the ISMS document.  

Bear in mind that we are providing this guidance as a potential resource to Illinois dermatology practices.  It is not a substitute for legal advice, but is intended to help covered entities in Illinois to understand how the HHS guidance under HIPAA can be reconciled with Illinois law.

Illinois State Law -- (Remember - Federal law supersedes state law.  Please refer to the document noted above for additional information.

Yes.  There is a formula administered by the Illinois State Comptroller's Office that governs what a patient can be charged for copying of medical records.  

Records that are retrieved from digital formats do not qualify as microfiche or microfilm for the purposes of these charges. 

  • For electronic records, retrieved from a scanning, digital imaging, electronic information or other digital format in a electronic document, a charge of 50% of the per page charge for paper copies listed above. This per page charge includes the cost of each CD Rom, DVD, or other storage media.

Click here to view more information on the Illinois Comptroller's website.


Does a doctor have to provide copies of medical records to patients who haven't paid their medical bills?

The Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association states that medical records should not be withheld because a patient has unpaid medical bills.

Read the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Advisory Opinion concerning ownership and release of medical records.


Can a physician in Illinois dispense prescription drugs?

Yes.  A physician may dispense prescription drugs in Illinois, although there are some restrictions on how the drugs must be labeled.  Any prescription drug dispensed by a physician must be labeled with the following information:

  • the date on which the drug is dispensed,
  • the patient's name,
  • the last name of the person dispensing the drug,
  • the directions for use of the prescription, and
  • the established name (s) of the drug and the dosage and quantity. 

View a copy of the Illinois Practice Act section pertaining to dispensing:  CLICK HERE (PDF file)


What is the statute of limitations for filing of medical malpractice claims?

Any action for personal injury or death against a physician or hospital must be filed within two years from the date the claimant knew or reasonably should have known of the injury. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/13-212 (West 1992). In no instance may a claimant bring an action more than four years after the date on which the alleged act or omission occurred. Id. This statute of repose is constitutional. Mega v. Holy Cross Hospital, 111 Ill. 2d 416, 490 N.E.2d 665 (1986).

If the claimant was under the age of eighteen when the cause of action accrued, the limitation period is eight years from the date of the alleged act or omission, except that in no event may such an action be filed after the minor claimant's 22nd birthday. Id. If the claimant is mentally incompetent, the period of limitations does not begin to run until the disability is removed. Id.

Wrongful death actions are governed by a different two-year statute of limitations that begins to run on the date of death. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 180/2 (West Supp. 2002). However, such an action can only be brought if, on the date of death, the decedent could still have commenced a malpractice action for the injury that caused the death. Wolf v. Bueser, 279 Ill. App. 3d 217, 664 N.E.2d 197, cert. denied, 168 Ill. 2d 629, 671 N.E.2d 745 (1996). 

Will a physician be held liable for information provided when reporting an impaired driver to the Illinois Secretary of State?


Liability of persons for information supplied to Board or Secretary.
No member of the Board, medical practitioner, clinic, hospital, or mental institution, whether public or private, shall be liable or subject to criminal or civil action for any opinions, findings, or recommendations, or for any information supplied to the Secretary or the Board regarding persons under review, or for reports required by this Act, except for willful and wanton misconduct.

Information submitted by medical practitioners; police officers; State’s attorneys; or members of the judiciary.
Any qualified medical practitioner, commissioned police officer, State’s attorney, or member of the judiciary acting in his or her official capacity may submit information to the Secretary relative to the medical condition of a person, including suspected chronic alcoholism or habitual use of narcotics or dangerous drugs, if the condition interferes with the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safety. Persons reporting under this Section shall enjoy the same immunities granted members of the Board under Section 6-910 (listed above).


What are the rules regarding dispensing (sale) of contact lenses?

In Illinois, only eye care professionals licensed in the state (physicians/ophthalmologists and optometrists) are authorized to prescribe contact lenses. Without a prescription it is against the law to sell lenses. Illinois residents are encouraged to notify state officials if they see lenses for sale at retail outlets that do not require a prescription from a licensed eye-care professional. Consumers can file complaints at or by calling our consumer hotline number at 800-280-4149. CLICK HERE to read a new release from the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation on this subject.


Can professional association dues paid on behalf of a partner or employee be deducted by a medical practice?

Generally, when a medical practice pays dues to a professional society (such as ISEPS) on behalf of a partner or an employee, those dues may be deductible as a business expense.  Dues are not deductible as a charitable contribution, even if the association to be paid is qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  However, it is important for practice administrators to be aware that any portion of the dues allocated to lobbying expenses is not deductible.  Funds paid for a political donation, such as to a political action committee, also are not deductible.  Associations that collect dues are obligated to inform their members as to what portions of the dues invoices fall into the category of lobbying and political donations.  Practice managers are strongly encouraged to consult with their tax accountant for specifics as to how these rules apply to your own practice.


Last Updated on Wednesday, April 03, 2019 03:59 PM