Earlier this month we explained the recent passage of the Illinois Patient Right to Know Act which will re-open a long dormant database of information for Illinois patients. The bill was recently signed by Governor Pat Quinn, making it the official law of the land. The centerpiece of the measure is a computerized database that will share information about Illinois medical malpractice claims, doctor education, physician discipline, and more. The information was previously available for a two year stretch but was removed per a triggering provision in the original bill following a state Supreme Court decision regarding Illinois medical malpractice caps.
Entrenched medical lobbying interests in the state fought the re-publication of the information intensely. However, a wide range of interests came together to support this common sense effort. The Southtown Star published an editorial this week affirming the benefits of the Act. The story explained how the idea behind the bill was basic responsibility and fairness, which means that even powerful lobbying interests were unable to stop it.
The story explains how it is common sense for local patients to have access to the database to learn a variety of information about their medical provider. The website will list the doctor’s disciplinary history, insurance information, hospital affiliations, and practice specialties. In addition, the database will give patients the chance to see whether or not the doctor in question had any medical malpractice judgments or settlements involving medical malpractice in the last five years. When the site finally reopens in a few months all of the state’s 48,000 physicians and chiropractors will be listed.
As the paper notes, there should be nothing to fear from open, honest, and clear information being provided to consumers. In the two years that it was available many Illinois community members used it to find information about their medical providers-the site drew over 150,000 hits per week in that time span. Medical errors are capable of having life altering (or ending) consequences and it is only fair to have as much information about those who will be in a position to make those errors.
The state’s medical lobby fought access to this information for years, arguing that it was only going to be used as ammunition for legal challenges against doctors. However, as the editorial makes explicit, that is premised on an unfair and inaccurate description of all Illinois medical patients. Transparency and open access to information has been shown time and time again to lead to quality improvements in all areas of society-there is no reason to believe that this will be any different. It is only logical for patients to have easy access to information about their doctors.
Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe that open and honest information should always be made available to the public. This is especially true when it comes to granting local patients basic access to information about the medical providers to whom they are literally entrusting their lives. We encourage area residents to take a look at the new site when it reopens in about two months.
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