Quinn signs law mandating online physician profiles

August 9, 2011

Patients in Illinois will soon be able to look up information about their doctors online. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Patients' Right to Know Act into law Tuesday, mandating that all physicians who practice in Illinois have online profiles that include any history of criminal activity or medical malpractice suits.

Brent Adams, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, will be overseeing the enforcement of this law.

"Everyone is entitled to be able to provide informed consent to medical treatment, not just informed as to the procedure or medication, but informed as to who is recommending that course of treatment."

The web profiles aren't entirely new. They were first introduced as part of a medical malpractice reform package in 2008. The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the broader reforms 2 years later, saying the package was unconstitutional. Lawmakers have since pushed for the web profiles as part of state oversight of doctors.

State Representative Mary Flowers, author of the bill, said the Illinois Supreme Court didn't identify the web profiles as unconstitutional as part of their ruling.

"Our supreme court ruled the caps on medical malpractice was unconstitutional, and there was a clause in there that said that if one part of the bill failed, the whole bill failed," Flowers said. "But the supreme court never once said that there was anything wrong with the portion of the bill that the patient should still have the right to know."

Adams said the web profiles were a popular service during their short lifetime. According to his count, the profiles received 150,000 hits per week from over 42,000 unique users. He said the updated website will be up and running in about two months, and he estimates more than 46,0000 licensed physicians will be listed on the site.

The Patients' Right to Know Act was one of four healthcare bills signed by Governor Quinn Tuesday. The other three will require insurance coverage of diabetes management education programs; improve dental care for children; and  increase education on preventative cardiovascular screenings.