Illinois reinstitutes in-depth physician profiles online

August 31, 2011

Should selecting a physician really be more like online banking or searching for real estate on the Internet? The Illinois legislature apparently thinks so. See what this new law requires to be included in all physician and surgeon profiles for online public inspection.

For physicians, everything old is new again in Illinois.

A new law, similar to provisions in previous legislation that were declared unconstitutional, requires that wide-ranging information about all physicians and surgeons be made available for public inspection on a Web site.

The Patients’ Right to Know Act, which went into effect immediately when it was signed recently by Gov. Pat Quinn, requires the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to make physician profiles available for public inspection, including on an online database.

The profiles will include the following:

the full name of the physician;
any criminal convictions for felonies and Class A misdemeanors;
any disciplinary action within the most recent 5 years;
name of medical schools attended and date of attendance and graduation;
specialty board certification;
the number of years in practice and locations; and
names of hospitals where the physician has privileges.

Physicians will be provided copies of the profiles by a disciplinary board and have 60 days to correct any inaccuracies. They also would have the option to exclude any information concerning academic appointments, teaching responsibilities, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and any professional and community service awards, if they desire.

“This is important information, and we wanted to make it as accessible and transparent as possible,” said sponsor Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago). “Today, you can do your banking online, take a virtual tour of a home, and it’s important that we bring that technology to bear on one of the most important decisions you can make-who to choose as your doctor.”

This is the second time around for the law. Physician profiling was part of a 2005 Illinois statute that capped malpractice awards and was declared unconstitutional in 2010. When that law was struck down, the physician profiles, which were in an amendment, had to be removed.

State officials said then that the profiles, which had been posted for about a year, had received about 130,000 clicks a week. Updated information is currently being gathered, so that the profiles can be reposted.

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