A recent Chicago Tribune article chronicles a battle between patients' rights advocates and the medical lobby surrounding the online posting of physicians' detailed histories, including malpractice records.
The state posted such information online for two years ending in February. Patients could see whether a given doctor was convicted of a crime, fired by a medical institution or held liable for malpractice within a five-year window.
As an Illinois injury attorney could attest, such records might not reflect favorably on a doctor and so the Illinois State Medical Society lobbied hard to stop the state from making the information available. But Steven Malkin, president of the lobbying group, didn't say patients don't have a right to access this information; only that it's already available to the public:
"Patients have every right to evaluate a physician before treatment, and we encourage patients to use the resources available to them to make informed decisions about their medical care."
And according to the state's largest lobbyist for physicians, it's a simple matter of conserving state resources. But Rep. Mary Flower, D-Chicago, isn't buying it. While the information is available elsewhere, she said it's difficult to find without the now-defunct Web site:
"We had a powerful tool to protect patients, and now it's gone. We need to mandate that the state provide this critical consumer health information."
The lawmaker has introduced new legislation that would restore the doctor profiles. She also was responsible for the original bill requiring the physician profiles be made public.
The physician profiles Web site generated roughly 130,000 clicks per week during the two years it was online, making it one of the more popular state resources.