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New Medical Records Bill Signed by Governor Quinn

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at our firm have helped many families who have lost a loved one because of inadequate medical care that the victim received. Because of the nature of the work, when a medical professional is negligent there is an increased risk that the victims will suffer serious consequences-including death. All legal matters that are initiated following the death of the victim present a few different procedural complexities that are not present when the individual who is hurt is alive and named as a plaintiff. In fact, a death usually leads to various claims being filed against the wrongdoers There is usually a wrongful death lawsuit which seeks compensation for the survivors own loss and a separate action seeking compensation for the victim’s actual suffering with the proceeds to go to the family’s estate.

On top of that, once the different legal claims are initiated, there are evidence gathering issues that add unnecessary complications for families who are seeking legal complications for loved ones who have passed away. One of those problems involves obtaining medical records of the victim. In a medical malpractice lawsuits it is obviously a necessity to obtain these records as part of the litigation process. To understand how the victim passed away, what conditions they were suffering from, what treatment was provided, and many other details, the medical records of the individual had to be obtained. However, historically it was not a simple process to obtain that necessary information. Instead, there was a considerable amount of red tape that had to be sorted through before the records were released. Specifically, the victim’s estate had to be opened in an official legal proceeding, with the judge being made aware of the reason for the request, before the medical providers could release the records. This presented an extra cost for the family (emotionally and financially), and dragged out the litigation process even longer.

Yet, today the Governor signed a bill which will change that process. A bipartisan bill was recently passed by both houses of the General Assembly which will allow certain individuals to obtain those medical records without the need to officially open the estate. The legislation-known as SB 1694-will provide an alternative avenue for certain individuals to file a written request to obtain the records without any need to go to court and open the estate. As explained by the new legislation, once the measure goes into effect, the deceased’s executor, administrator, or agent will be able to submit a written request for the medical records without initiating a separate legal proceeding. On top of that, so long as the deceased did not indicate an objection to the disclosure of his medical records while he or she was still alive, a spouse, adult children, parents or siblings of the deceased may obtain the documents after a written request. The newly enacted legislation includes specific language that should be used by the parties requested the record release. Essentially, that writing must certify the proper relationship to the deceased and them make the request.

Few moments in life are harder than the aftermath of a loved one’s passing. Our Chicago injury lawyers understand that these difficult situation are made even worse when the death was caused in any way by the misconduct of another person, business, medical facility, or other party. Through the years the attorneys at our firm have come to appreciate that the last thing these families need is more unnecessary legal wrangling with takes up time and money before an ultimate resolution to their case. This bipartisan bill was long overdue; it made the lives of some community members much easier without costing others a thing. We applaud those involved in this decision, and will help families in need of medical records release use the new legislation to simply at least one part of the process.

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