Round-Up: Interesting News from State Courts

July 9, 2019

ISMIE routinely monitors legal cases relevant to the practice of medicine. Recently we’ve received a dose of good news in Illinois and a dose of bad news in Kansas, and the outcome of a real head scratcher looms in New Jersey.

Illinois: A Win! Hospital Does Not Have to Produce a Doctor's Protected Credentialing File 

The case of Magen Willis v. Highland Medical Center, a medical negligence case, is of the utmost importance to physicians. The core issue hinged on whether the defendant was entitled to assert the protections of Illinois’ Medical Studies Act for documents contained in a credentialing file.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a deceased patient’s estate, alleged improper medical treatment that the deceased received in 2013. During discovery, the plaintiff sought production of a physician’s credentialing file held by a hospital.

Good news: The Appellate Court of Illinois reinforced that these documents are privileged under Illinois law.

As doctors know, statutory confidentiality and privilege protections are important aspects of the credentialing process, as they ensure open and honest discussion and evaluation of physicians.

Without these protections, disclosure may occur, particularly during litigation – to the detriment of physicians. 

Kansas: Caps on Certain Non-Economic Damages Are Ruled Unconstitutional 

Last month the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that caps on certain non-economic damages that juries can award are unconstitutional. The court’s decision does not apply to wrongful death cases or punitive damages.  

New Jersey: Can a Non-Patient Sue a Physician? Court Case Still Hangs in the Balance

A motorist who was taking psychotropic medications prescribed by her psychiatrist tragically hit and killed a New Jersey bicyclist.

The family of the woman who died from the accident wants the right to sue the doctor who prescribed medication to the car’s driver. The estate of the deceased alleges that the psychiatrist should have warned the patient not to drive while taking her medications.

New Jersey’s Superior Court will decide whether to allow the lawsuit to go forward, which would open a Pandora’s box of endless medical lawsuits whenever someone alleges that harm can be tied to care that a patient received. ISMIE will keep policyholders informed on the outcome of the case.
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