The State of Illinois formerly provided its state citizens with useful and valuable information and detailed histories of its state’s doctors, including vital information such as whether the Illinois physician was convicted of a crime, fired by a hospital, or forced to make Illinois medical malpractice payments within the previous five years. As one would expect, many individuals in Illinois concerned about their physicians’ abilities frequently visited the Illinois physician information website. During the two years in which the information was posted, the Illinois physician profiles generated 130,000 clicks per week.
Unfortunately, access to the Illinois physician profiles came to a halt earlier this year when the state of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation removed them from its website and locked them. As Chicago Tribune describes it, this is the latest chapter in a long political battle that has pitted Illinois patient advocates against the lobbyists who represent Illinois hospitals, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies.
Now, the only information available to the public is whether the Illinois regulatory agency has previously disciplined the physician. One state legislator explained that we had a useful and powerful tool to protect patients and now it is gone; Representative Mary Flowers added that we should mandate that the state of Illinois provide this critical consumer health information. Patients’ rights advocates and Illinois medical malpractice attorneys explained that similar websites have proved popular in other states where they receive more than 800,000 hits a year. But, any effort in Illinois needs to face tough competition from the Illinois State Medical Society, which lobbies on behalf of doctors and has helped defeat similar medical malpractice protection bills.
To read more about the Illinois medical malpractice website and its removal, visit the Chicago Tribune.