Following yesterday’s article about the removal of the national online database of medical malpractice claims from public access, our Illinois personal injury attorneys were also interested in a breaking news story from last week’s Chicago Tribune.
According to the report, despite the eradication of the national database (which, itself, redacted the names and addresses of negligent physicians), Illinoisans can now access information about Illinois doctors – including data regarding healthcare malpractice claims – by way of a public database that is now available on the internet.
Similar to how the federal database was taken offline as a result of policymakers’ concerns over doctors’ privacy rights, the Illinois database was temporarily taken down when the Supreme Court of Illinois struck down a medical malpractice reform law, citing the legislation as unconstitutional. Now, however, the information is once again available to the public as a result of Governor Pat Quinn signing into law the Patient Right to Know Act.
The facts and figures have been made available via the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website, and includes information on 46,000 doctors and 4,500 chiropractors, as well as Illinois medical malpractice cases and settlements going back five years.
Also included in the Illinois database is data such as the medical school which the physician attended, board certifications, policies regarding Medicare and Medicaid patients, and number of years in practice.
Allowing this information to be accessed by consumers could potentially protect patients in a number of ways: it can assist individuals in choosing safe hospitals; it can encourage doctors to raise their standard of care, since practice information is being made transparent; and it can encourage lawmakers to implement and enforce health and safety regulations if information is available to show that particular healthcare professionals or institutions are acting in a negligent manner.
When physicians hold themselves out to the public as experts in their field, they are essentially creating an obligation for themselves to treat their patients with the utmost care. When doctors fail to do so – either by careless or intentional acts or omissions – they can be held liable for the injuries caused by their negligence, as well as the costs incurred to repair or compensate for those wrongs.
When someone has been determined by a court of law to be legally responsible for having injured another, the wrongdoer may be made to pay the injured person compensatory damages. Compensatory damages attempt to put an injured person back in the position he or she was in before being injured; these include such things are reimbursement for medical expenses, hospital bills, wages lost as a result of an injury, and intangible things such as pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded in these lawsuits. Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party and prevent them – as well as others in similar positions as the wrongdoer – from harming others. These are generally only awarded when the injury-causing behavior is exceptionally egregious.
Injuries suffered as a result of medical malpractice can be severe and life altering, and our Chicago personal injury lawyers have the experience and understanding to fight for your rights. If you or a loved one have been harmed as a result of a medical provider’s negligence, contact an attorney immediately for an assessment of your rights under the law.