The Chicago Tribune reported today on an important development that may ultimately go a long way to improve healthcare in our state and limit instances of Illinois medical malpractice. Today Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that will make it possible for patients to learn about the history of their doctors. The Patients’ Right to Know Act will take affect this week and make public detailed histories about negligent Illinois doctors, including whether the physician has been fired, paid medical malpractice claims in the past five years, or has been convicted of a crime.
Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have advocated in support of this information for decades as the doctors’ lobby repeatedly blocked the measure in the state legislature. Fortunately, the bill finally passed this session after the public was made aware of high-profile cases where dangerous doctors were allowed to continue treating patients even after repeatedly making harmful mistakes and even being convicted of sex crimes. Without any way to access information about doctor histories, patients had previously been unable to learn whether their physician had any issues in the past.
With passage of this legislation, local patients will soon have online access to doctor profiles that share a wide range of information that may be helpful when making healthcare choices. Beyond indicating whether a physician may have committed malpractice, the profiles will also indicate the medical school that the doctor attended, any specialty board certifications that they have, the number of years that the physician has been practicing, there practicing locations, whether they participate in Medicaid, and other details.
This represents a common sense step in empowering consumers and encouraging honesty about doctor quality. The state regulatory body has long collected and maintained this information However, with pressure from the state medical lobby that information was kept hidden from the public. For a short time several years ago this information was made available to consumers as part of a “compromise” when medical malpractice caps were enacted. However, upon the state Supreme Court’s logical rejection of those caps as unconstitutional, doctors pressured lawmakers to remove the public information.
As a companion to this bill, another piece of legislation passed in the state this year will require prosecutors to inform state officials if a doctor is convicted of a sex crime, a forcible felony, or misdemeanors against patients. This reporting is long-overdue as a tool to help prevent physicians repeatedly violating their patients’ trust in the most egregious ways. The newly collecting criminal information will then be made available to the public on the new website which will go live pursuant to the Patient’s Right to Know Act.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers applaud the state lawmakers who advocated on behalf of this bill and similar common-sense protection measures. Nothing matters to consumers more than the services they receive related to their health and well-being. In this area more than any other, it is logical for patients to have as much information as possible about those upon whom they are placing so much trust.
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