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Removal of Online Physician Database may Seriously Harm Patients in the Future

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers have concern for their clients over the Obama administration’s agenda to remove a database of physician discipline and malpractice action reports from the Internet. To date, the information has been eradicated from public access, but activists are fighting the policy in attempt to regain access to the data.

According to the New York Times, The National Practitioner Data Bank had a “public use file” of compiled data – with doctor’s names and addresses redacted – that provided information to state medical boards, insurers and hospitals, as well as researchers and reporters, to protect patients. Now since the data is no longer available for use, it is nearly impossible to investigate or analyze trends in medical malpractice incidents and disciplinary actions.

The worry is that would-be patients will not be able to have the benefit of potentially protecting themselves from demographic areas that are rife with negligence. Additionally, concerns have been raised with regard to the Constitutional right of the Freedom of the Press and whether they can report on physicians’ carelessness. However, because the federal database itself does not reveal identities, the argument can easily be made that it does not infringe on the privacy rights of the individual doctors.

Illinois medical malpractice claims arise when people are injured by either careless or intentional acts of a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider. Healthcare professionals have a specific duty of care for their patients; when another person’s acts or omissions lead to the injury or death of a patient, they are liable for the damage caused by the injury, and may be made to pay the injured person compensatory damages. Additionally, hospitals and care facilities may be held liable for improperly training or supervising their staff, if the employees’ negligent behavior is the cause of the injury.

According to Charles Ornstein, president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a reporter for ProPublica, an investigative newsroom, “Reporters across the country have used the public use file to write stories that have exposed serious lapses in the oversight of doctors that have put patients at risk…Their stories have led to new legislation, additional levels of transparency in various states, and kept medical boards focused on issues of patient safety.” In addition to direct patient safety, this information has been used to urge policymakers to increase health and safety standards around the country. If it were to be put back online, future patients could potentially be protected.

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys understand the emotional, as well as physical, agony that accompanies medical malpractice cases in Illinois, and have the diligence and understanding to succeed on behalf of their patients. Our attorneys won a $17.7 million medical malpractice settlement for a former police officer who suffered a life-altering brain injury due to nursing staff negligence at a Chicago hospital, as well as a $6.5 million settlement for a young girl who suffered a brain injury during birth, resulting in cerebral palsy, after physicians failed to timely perform a C-section.

If you or a loved on have suffered as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, contact an attorney immediately to understand your rights under the law.