Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins applaud the efforts of state lawmakers, who recently passed legislation granting patients access to a computerized database containing detailed information on Illinois doctors and their disciplinary histories. We believe that the law promotes fairness and responsibility, allowing patients to make informed decisions about their medical providers.
According to the Southtown Star, the database will contain important information about a physician's disciplinary history, insurance information, practice specialties, hospital affiliations, and whether or not they participate in Medicaid. Most importantly, it will also include a list of all medical malpractice judgments or settlements involving an Illinois doctor in the last five years.
Approximately 48,000 physicians and chiropractors will be listed on the site when it launches in November of 2011. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is in charge of compiling all of the physician profiles, posting them to www.idpfr.com, and updating the website as new cases are decided. When an Illinois doctor is convicted of a crime, fired, or makes a medical malpractice payment, it will be posted to the website within 60 days for patients to review.
This critical physician information was previously available to patients as part of a medical malpractice reform bill approved by the General Assembly in 2008. The web-based tool proved to be extremely popular, drawing more than 150,000 hits a week. Unfortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional, forcing the database to shut down.
Some medical lobbying groups fought to keep this information shielded from the public, arguing that it does nothing more than provide ammunition for malpractice lawsuits. However, the state ultimately decided that transparency is essential to protecting consumer rights. The Institute of Medicine estimates that approximately 98,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes. Allowing patients open access to a variety of physician information will aide them in making important healthcare decisions that could dramatically affect their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys strongly advocate on behalf of legislative measures such as the Illinois Patient Right to Know Act that empower patients to learn more about their doctor's histories. Doctor discipline is a serious problem in our state and across the country, and the system often allows dangerous doctors to continue practicing even after these doctors make serious medical mistakes or commit crimes. Unless patients have basic access to information about felonies, sex crimes, or malpractice violations committed by their doctors, they are not adequately equipped to provide for their own safety.
We continue to work with Illinois medical malpractice victims and their families who have been harmed by medical mistakes. Simple mistakes are being made every day that carry potentially life-threatening consequences, such as doctors overlooking basic hygiene procedures or failing to order routine tests. Holding negligent medical providers accountable for their actions is an effective way to improve patient safety and restore trust in the healthcare system. The latest physician profile database will advance this goal by providing doctors an incentive to provide the highest quality of care possible, or risk widespread public exposure for their violations.