Chicago and Illinois patients beware: your doctor may ask you to sign away your rights

Patients in other states have recently been required to waive their rights to a jury trial in case of medical malpractice by a group of obstetricians and gynecologists. Although the enforceability of these waivers is in question, it is unsettling that victims of medical malpractice may be forced to settle their cases through binding arbitration in without the right to present their case to a jury of their peers. Adding insult to injury, the agreement purports to cap pain-and-suffering compensation at $250,000, no matter how egregious the malpractice or serious the injury.

Although states that have instituted tort reform have not seen a decrease in insurance rates, this group of Ob-Gyns are attempting to carve out a special exception for them enjoyed by no other profession or ordinary citizen. These doctors are under the mistaken belief that tort reform will reduce malpractice insurance premiums. However, the real solution to the problem is much needed insurance reform.

The insurance company that offers incentives to Ob-Gyns in return for the patient waivers is planning to operate in other states, including Illinois. The enforceability of arbitration waivers and agreements on caps is questionable. These requirements hurt doctors, patients and victims while allowing insurance companies to profit. Doctors pay the same rates, patients lose their constitutional rights to a fair trial, and victims in need do not receive appropriate compensation. Make sure to carefully inspect any agreements your doctor may ask you to sign.

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