Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys consistently advocate for measures that increase transparency in the local medical system. A large part of that effort involved urging the re-publication of the Illinois doctor history database. The website had previously been available to consumers, and it provided a wealth of information to help patients make more informed choices about those to whom they would trust their medical care. It is common sense for residents to have access to basic information about the education, specialty, and Illinois medical malpractice history of their care providers. Perhaps no decision matters more to consumers than the ones they make which will affect their basic health and well-being. Yet, over the last few years consumers had little access to that information. It was much easier to learn about the history of a cell phone provider or the cable company, than it was to get basic information about the services provided by those caregivers to whom one’s life may well be entrusted.
Fortunately, another step forward in the effort to improve patient awareness was taken this week as the Chicago Tribune reported that the online database explaining information about Illinois doctors and chiropractors went online this week. The database is referred to as “The Physician Profile” and it is available at the website run by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website. The site is fully searchable, and includes information on roughly 46,000 doctors and 4,500 chiropractors. Perhaps most importantly, the database allows consumers to determine if their doctor has been disciplined for Illinois medical malpractice or for errors committed in another state. Searchers can use the site to find information on malpractice judgments and settlements going back at least the past five years.
The re-publication of this information has been a long time coming. It had been available for several years. However, it was taken offline last year per the demands of certain physician groups after the Illinois Supreme Court reached the logical decision that the Illinois medical malpractice damage cap law was unconstitutional. The legislation that enacted the caps included a provision allowing for the removal of the database if the law were declared unconstitutional.
However, that all changed this year when Governor Pat Quinn signed the “Patient Right to Know” Act into law, reinstating the database. The signature was made in August, but the legislation called for a 60 days review period before the site actually went live. That review has passed, and so consumers can once again access the site to help in their medical decision making. As the Governor noted when he signed the measure, “This website is an important tool to empower Illinois consumers by giving them online, easy-to-use access to information about our state’s doctors.” Besides sharing information about previous Illinois medical malpractice suits, the website also allows consumers to see where a doctor went to school, whether they are taking on new Medicare and Medicaid patients, and whether they are board certified in any practice areas. The website is expected to draw upwards of 150,000 to 200,000 hits a week
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