Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers have recently posted a few stories discussing the importance of allowing the public access to their doctor’s history. In our state, the “Patients Right to Know” Act allowed community members access to information about their medical care providers, such as their educational background, areas of specialty, and details about Illinois medical malpractice awards against them. Health is one’s most prized asset. Having available information about the individuals (and institutions) that you trust with your health seems like a logical, common-sense step that governments can take to improve the well-being of citizens.
However, as we noted, the residents of some states still do not have access to this information. Certain medical boards continue to engage in fights to keep the information hidden from consumers. It is yet another unfortunate example where the medical lobby is working to put their own interests ahead of their patients. These sorts of political maneuverings unfairly paint the industry with a tarnished brush and skew the perception of most medical professionals who are hardworking, honest, experts working to improve the lives of those around them.
Even when laws are passed allowing the publication of database about medical professionals, patient rights advocates still have some concerns. Most notably, the database is of no value if the information on it is inaccurate or incomplete. Creating the online space is a great start, but the body in charge of maintaining the space cannot stop there. Failing to update it appropriately is like having a blog without putting any posts up-worthless.
Yet, incomplete maintenance of these medical review sites seems to be occurring in some places. The Duluth News Tribune, for example, reported this week on an investigation which found that some complaints of medical malpractice were not listed on the state or federal website databases. In particular, the newspaper requested information about complaints made against a particular neurosurgeon. The state medical board denied the request. The newspaper knew from earlier interviews that the doctor had faced at least nine medical malpractice suits, seven of which resulted in a settlement. Surprisingly some of these complaints and settlements are not listed in any form on available state or federal database.
For example, in one a case a former patient-herself a 4th year medical student at the time-went to the doctor for what was supposed to be a routine procedure to correct carpal tunnel syndrome. Things did not go well. Instead of fixing her problem the doctor removed a piece of nerve in her right wrist. As a result she has been left permanently disabled. Those researching the doctor would not find this case listed on the website
Each Illinois medical malpractice lawyer at our firm will be sure to keep an eye on our own medical database. Failure to properly include instances of medical malpractice on the website would severely curtail the benefit that it offers to consumers. All local community members who suspect that there is inaccurate or missing information should contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation which runs the board to share your concerns.
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