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Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Responds to Hospital Investigation Problems

Earlier this week we discussed a recent Chicago Tribune article that highlighted the failure of state investigators to look into complaints against Illinois hospitals. Of course, the news was troubling (but not surprising) for our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers to hear. Spending each day working with victims of hospital mistreatment and Illinois medical errors, we understand the very real consequences of poor care. Considering the seriousness of those consequences, it is imprudent for state officials to essentially provide a free pass to these facilities when local patients indicate that they received problematic care.

Yet, as explained, the agency officials charged with looking into patient complaints noted that they simply have no budget to provide the oversight necessary. Not surprisingly, many hospital industry lobbyists have been working hard to keep that investigatory budget low so as to keep officials away from their often negligent facilities. While the vast majority of hospitals provide great serve to patients day in and day out, it is vital for the exceptions to be held to task. Yet because of the misguided work of these lobbyists and a lack of political will to demand healthcare oversight improvements, even facilities that make clear mistakes do not face official sanction.

Of course, the lax oversight of state officials is a clear reminder to our Chicago injury attorneys of the vital role that the civil justice system plays in holding medical professionals who make these errors accountable. That is the same point that the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association president made in a follow up letter to the Tribune commenting on the article. He pointedly noted that the fact that 85% of hospital complaints are never investigated emphasize the important of keeping the civil justice system open so that victims have access to courts to defend their rights.

The letter explains how the vast majority of clients in Illinois medical malpractice cases indicate a clear desire to ensure that no other victims face the hardship that they did. Yet, considering that most patient’s complaints to state officials are essentially ignored, the court system is the only avenue available to victims to pursue that goal. This fact is true regardless of the underlying reason for the agency’s failure. The state clearly has left a void, and the court system’s open availability is vital to allowing victims to address their grievances and applying appropriate incentive for hospitals not to repeat the same mistake.

Of course, this news will likely be ignored by those who continue to advocate for so-called “tort reform” efforts which would actually have the opposite effect needed. Instead of providing avenues for victims of hospital errors, tort reform proponents are actually working to close off this last system encouraging justice and accountability. It remains disheartening that these serious threats to basic fairness are being considered both in the state and federally. This new report about the inadequacy of state investigations should be even more indication to fair-minded community members that closing off access to the civil justice system for victims is unnecessary, unfair, and downright dangerous.

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