Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Order Compelling Production of Defendant’s Medical Reports Based on Patient Safety Act

There are many procedural and evidentiary rules that are specific to medical malpractice cases. If you were injured as the result of a physician’s lack of appropriate care, having a seasoned Illinois medical malpractice lawyer on your side can make all the difference. A recent appellate decision discusses how the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 impacts a litigant’s ability to seek evidence from a medical provider defendant in a lawsuit.

This statute was established for the purpose of creating a voluntary reporting system regarding patient safety information by medical providers. It is designed to compile and review data to improve patient safety and the overall quality of healthcare in Illinois. The law encourages reporting by providing a privilege and confidentiality protection for patient safety information, which is referred to as patient safety work product. If one of the services that analyzes the data that medical providers report discloses patient safety work product, that provider can face a fine of up to $10,000 per disclosure.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to sufficiently monitor and treat blood glucose levels of the decedent and that the decedent lost her life as a result of this failure. The medical providers named as defendants in the action denied any negligence and filed a motion to dismiss, stating that they were not involved in the decedent’s care. During discovery, the plaintiff served discovery requests on one of the defendants, seeking information regarding whether the defendant was reported to or investigated by any agency or committee. The defendant objected on the basis that this was privileged information and provided a privilege log listing six reports. Additional discovery requests from the plaintiff sought information regarding any conversations or discussions the defendants had with any individuals regarding the incident. The defendant again refused to produce information on the basis of privilege.

The plaintiff filed a motion to compel production of the allegedly privileged information. The court requested an in camera review of the documents and additional information from the defendant regarding the basis for withholding the documents. The court ultimately granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff’s motion to compel. The defendant objected on the basis of the Patient Safety Act and filed a motion to reconsider. The court denied the motion and ordered the defendant to comply, but she refused. The court held the defendant in contempt and the defendant appealed.

On review, the appellate court agreed with the defendant that the documents were protected under the Patient Safety Act. The court noted that the plaintiff could still obtain medical records and seek analysis from expert witnesses regarding whether the defendant medical provider’s care fell below the requisite standard.

If you or a loved one was injured due to a medical provider’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, we have assisted countless individuals and families throughout Illinois with understanding their legal rights during this painful and stressful situation. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your rights and legal options so call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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