Northwest Community Hospital’s Top Doctor Had No Medical License

The chief medical officer at the Chicago-area Northwest Community Hospital did not have a license to practice medicine during his entire eight-year tenure.

Dr. Leighton Smith was chief medical officer at the hospital until he left the position on June 1. Smith was responsible for setting policy and managing the staff. Records show his medical license expired in 1999.

With the top doctor lacking a license to practice medicine, some may question the quality of care at Northwest Community, and the situation could affect medical malpractice cases, especially if a hospital policy is alleged to have resulted in negligence.

This is only the latest challenge for the hospital, which has struggled to remain profitable. Although the 496-bed hospital took in $520 million in revenue in 2011, it has not had an operating gain for the past three years. Northwest was once the Chicago area’s seventh-biggest hospital, but it has since dropped out of the top 10 as other area hospitals expand their market share.

Smith denied that his departure was related to his lack of a medical license, and hospital officials said they knew his license was expired when they hired him. A chief medical officer is an administrative position that is not directly involved in the treatment of patients. The State of Illinois does not require chief medical officers to have a license to practice medicine.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Smith received a salary of $785,000 in 2010.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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