Articles Posted in Health Law

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Plaintiff, an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) licensed to practice medicine in Illinois since 1975, was reappointed to the staff at Northwestern in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, plaintiff applied for reappointment; the division chief of gynecology at the hospital, reviewed one of plaintiff’s gynecological surgeries and deemed that it did not meet relevant criteria; 21 of his cases were then reviewed. Plaintiff sued, following revocation of his privileges to practice at the hospital following a peer review conducted pursuant to the Illinois Hospital Licensing Act, 210 ILCS 85/1. The trial court entered summary judgment, finding that the hospital was immune from suit and that it had complied with its bylaws and had not engaged in any wilful and wanton conduct. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting constitutional challenges to the immunity granted by the Licensing Act. View "Valfer v. Evanston NW Healthcare" on Justia Law

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The Klaines filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Dressen and against Southern Illinois Hospital Services (SIHS), for the negligent credentialing of Dressen. During discovery SIHS provided 1,700 pages of documents. SIHS refused to provide other documents, which it listed in a privilege log, citing the Medical Studies Act (735 ILCS 5/8-2101) and the Health Care Professional Credentials Data Collection Act (410 ILCS 517/1). The circuit court agreed with SIHS, with the exception of documents contained in Group B, Group F, and Group J. SIHS complied with respect to Group B, but continued to maintain that the documents in Groups F and J were privileged. Group F consists of Dressen’s three applications to SIHS for staff privileges. Group J contains “procedure summaries and case histories” that list surgical procedures that Dressen performed at SIHS. The circuit court held SIHS in contempt and imposed a $1 monetary sanction. On interlocutory appeal, the court affirmed, with modifications: all references to an external peer review report contained in Dressen’s application for staff privileges were to be redacted, and any patient identifying information was to be redacted to the extent required by 45 C.F.R. 164.512(e). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding no basis for holding that a physician-patient privilege applies to raw data regarding treatment and procedures performed. View "Klaine v. S. Ill. Hosp. Servs." on Justia Law

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Lance, 53 years old, has spent much of his adult life incarcerated or institutionalized. After being paroled in 1997, he was admitted to mental health facilities 15 times before the involuntary admission at issue. In 2008 after serving a sentence for parole violations, he was involuntarily admitted to Chester Mental Health Center (CMHC). A 2011 petition included a certificate by a CMHC staff psychiatrist that described threats, violent acts, resisting treatment, and inappropriate behaviors. At the commitment hearing a CMHC social worker, testified that he had interviewed Lance and those treating him, had reviewed the clinical file, that Lance has “an Axis I diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, paraphilia NOS, history of noncompliance with the medications, and an Axis II diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder,” that Lance displayed “delusional thought content which is grandiose, paranoid, and persecutory in nature,” that he had periodic inappropriate sexual conduct, that he engaged in acts of verbal and physical aggression, and that he was noncompliant with medication. Lance appealed his involuntary admission, arguing the court violated the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, 405 ILCS 5/1-100, by disregarding his request, in testimony, to be voluntarily admitted. The appellate court ruled more than nine months after the term of commitment ended and reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court ruling, The Mental Health Code does not require a ruling for or against voluntary admission, based on an in-court request for voluntary admission during a hearing for involuntary admission, nor does it require a court to sua sponte continue a proceeding for involuntary admission upon such a request. View "In re Lance H." on Justia Law

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A psychiatrist at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center sought a court order authorizing involuntary treatment of Rita. Stating that Rita met the criteria for a diagnosis of “schizophrenia paranoid type,” the doctor requested authorization to administer specific medications, including Risperidone, for up to 90 days. At a hearing, there was testimony about Rita’s behavior before her hospitalization, about police response to a call about Rita’s behavior, and about Rita’s own descriptions of her delusions and trying to choke herself to kill the people inside her. Rita had not threatened anyone at Chicago-Read, and no cause existed to place her in restraints or administer emergency medication. Although generally cooperative, Rita refused to attend group therapy, and would not take medication. The circuit court authorized involuntary treatment. The appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court failed to comply with the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, 405 ILCS 5/3-816(a), requirement that final orders “shall be accompanied by a statement on the record of the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law.” The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court order, reasoning that reading the code as “directory,” so that noncompliance can be excused, does not impair the safeguards the law is intended to protect. View "In re Rita P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Dr. Murphy and his employer, ECHO, alleging that Murphy was negligent in treating Anderson, who suffered a severe and permanent brain injury following emergency room treatment. ECHO billed Anderson for services physicians provided him during a previous emergency room visit, but did not bill for Murphy’s services during the Code Blue that resulted in his injury. The hospital billed Anderson for supplies used during the Code Blue. The circuit court concluded that Murphy was immune from liability under the Good Samaritan Act, 745 ILCS 49/25. The appellate court reversed, holding that the Act was meant to apply to volunteers, not to those who treat patients within the scope of their employment and are compensated for doing so. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The Act provides “Any person licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 or any person licensed to practice the treatment of human ailments in any other state or territory of the United States who, in good faith, provides emergency care without fee to a person, shall not, as a result of his or her acts or omissions, except willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person, in providing the care, be liable for civil damages.” Murphy was fully compensated for his time that day. He responded to the emergency not because he was volunteering to help but because it was his job to do so. The agreement that ECHO had with the hospital and the agreement that ECHO had with Murphy require that ECHO physicians to comply with hospital policies, and the hospital’s written policy was that emergency room physicians were to respond to Code Blues. The legislature never intended that Good Samaritan immunity would be available in this situation. View "Home Star Bank & Fin. Servs. v. Emergency Care & Health Org., Ltd." on Justia Law

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James, a 60-year old with a lengthy criminal record and a history of psychiatric hospitalizations, has been held involuntarily at the Chester Mental Health Center since 2003, under successive involuntary commitment orders entered after he had reached the mandatory parole date on his criminal sentences. As the most recent order was about to expire, the Chester facility filed a petition under the Mental Health Code (405 ILCS 5/3-813) alleging that James continued to be subject to involuntary admission, with certificates from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, stating that James was “[a] person with mental illness who, because of his illness is reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future … is unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm.” The petition was filed on April 29, 2010. The court set the matter for May 5, 2010. James’s attorney appeared on that date and obtained an order for independent evaluation. The independent doctor was prepared to testify that James should remain at Chester; on May 19 James’s attorney advised the court that his client had elected to have a jury. James agreed to wait unit the first available jury date in August. At trial on August 23, James expressed surprise that he had a court date and stated that he was not feeling any better. The jury returned a unanimous verdict that James was subject to involuntary admission. The appellate court held that under these particular circumstances, the delay between the jury request and the actual hearing was significant enough to be prejudicial to the patient and reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, stating that, given all of his circumstances, the delay following James’s request for a jury trial did not cause him any prejudice. View "In re James W." on Justia Law

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The plaintiff was injured in a 2003 automobile accident. He was admitted to Edward Hospital and, allegedly, was operated on without a sufficient period of fasting. During surgery he vomited and aspirated vomit into his lungs, causing cardiac arrest and an anoxic brain injury. The circuit court entered partial summary judgment that two defendant doctors were not actual agents of the hospital, but also held that there was a question of fact (precluding summary judgment) as to whether those doctors were the hospital’s apparent agents. The hospital sought dismissal on grounds of res judicata. The Illinois Supreme Court answered the circuit court’s certified question by holding that plaintiff’s claim against the hospital could go forward. The supreme court said there was only one cause of action for negligence and the ruling that there was no actual agency did not entirely dispose of the claim. There is no res judicata barrier to attempting to show that defendant hospital is liable on the basis of apparent agency. View "Wilson v. Edward Hosp." on Justia Law

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In 2007 plaintiff died, a few months after filing a complaint, alleging exposure to asbestos brought home from work on her husband’s clothes and body between 1958 and 1964. The defense argued that no duty was owed to a third party. The circuit court dismissed. The appellate court remanded. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, stating that the question of duty for purposes of the negligence claim was not simply a matter of whether the injured spouse worked for the defendant, but of whether defendant could have reasonably foreseen that its actions would cause this injury. Although the complaint alleged that the defendant knew or should have known that there was an unreasonable risk of harm to the worker’s wife, the complaint failed to allege specific facts as to what the defendant actually knew, or should have known, between 1958 and 1964. A complaint should not be dismissed, however, unless it is clearly apparent that no set of facts can be proved that would entitle the plaintiff to recover. View "Simpkins v. CSX Corp." on Justia Law

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In a medical malpractice case, alleging failure to diagnose apendicitis, the court gave Civil Jury Instruction 105.01 (2006), which refers to a "reasonably careful," as opposed to a "reasonably well-qualified" (the 2005 instruction) professional. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs and the appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the jury instruction does not accurately state the law, but affirmed. The 2006 instruction eliminated the distinction between institutional negligence, which can be proven without expert testimony, and professional negligence, which requires expert testimony. The hospital was not prejudiced by the instruction because expert testimony was presented in connection with a vicarious liability claim. The court rejected the hospital's argument that the instruction was confusing and allowed jurors to consider personal knowledge in determining what is reasonable. View "Studt v. Sherman Health Systems" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs sought damages for wrongful-birth and negligent infliction of emotional distress, based on medical-provider defendants' failure to inform them that their older child had a genetic mutation. They claim that they would not have conceived a second child if they had been given correct information. The trial court held that damages available in a wrongful-birth action do not include the extraordinary costs of caring for a disabled child after he reaches the age of majority. The appellate court held that plaintiff parents in a wrongful-birth case may recover damages for the cost of caring for their dependent,disabled, adult child and that the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Illinois Supreme Court remanded, noting a question of fact concerning when the limitations period began to run. The court affirmed the holding that the plaintiffs have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress; the "zone of danger" test does not apply when damages for emotional distress are an element of another tort. The court reversed and reinstated the judgment that plaintiffs may not recover damages for the postmajority expenses of caring for their son; damages incurred after the age of majority are incurred by the child, who suffered no legal harm.