In response to the growing medical liability crisis in Illinois, the state medical society has developed the Medical Liability Crisis and Access to Care Law of 2004. State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) is lead sponsor of the measure, which includes the following key provisions:
- Enact good-faith immunity for physicians and other health professionals who provide emergency department or trauma center care.
- Expand free clinic good-faith immunity for health care professionals so that it applies to volunteers in federally qualified health care centers.
- Amend current law to expand the state grant program that awards money for professional liability premiums to apply to all physicians statewide.
- Require the Medicaid payment rate for all physicians to be increased to equal the Medicare rates over a three-year period.
- Prohibit any more than one 90-day extension for the filing of a certificate of merit.
- Increase the minimum qualifications for physicians supplying a consulting report, so that they must meet the same qualifications as expert witnesses.
- Provide immunity for a physician’s or health professional’s statements or communications of apology for inadequate or unanticipated treatment or care outcomes. A doctor who says “I’m sorry” should not have that expression of sympathy used against him/her.
- Limit voluntary dismissals and prohibit the re-filing of lawsuits after voluntary dismissal, if beyond statute of limitations.
- Require that qualifications for expert witnesses in malpractice litigation be increased so that any expert witness is board-certified or board-eligible in the same medical specialty as the defendant; is familiar with the medical issues alleged in the lawsuit; has devoted 75 percent of his or her time to the practice of medicine, teaching, or university-based research in relation to the medical care and type of treatment at issue; and, if retired, must provide proof of completion of continuing education courses for three years previous to giving testimony.