Illinois Court Holds Nursing Home Must Turn Over Internal Documents Related to Resident’s Fall

In a recent case, an Illinois appellate court recently decided that a nursing home was required to turn over certain documents in a medical negligence lawsuit after a resident fell at the nursing home. The resident in the case was an 88-year-old woman who was allegedly injured in a fall while she was a resident of the home. The plaintiff, who was the patient’s guardian, filed a claim on behalf on the patient’s behalf and was trying to get a copy of an internal report from May 2012 after the patient’s fall at the home.

glassesThe nursing home argued that the internal documents concerning the patient’s fall were protected under the Illinois Medical Studies Act and under the Long-Term Care Peer Review Act and Quality Assessment and Assurance Protection Act.

The Quality Assurance Act and the Medical Studies Act

The Quality Assurance Act protects proceedings and communications involving a peer review or a quality-assessment-and-assurance committee at long-term care facilities. The Medical Studies Act is a similar act that also protects peer-review proceedings and communications but applies to medical facilities. The laws protect certain information in order to encourage internal studies to improve care for patients.

Illinois courts have stated the Medical Studies Act is meant to encourage voluntary studies in order to improve conditions for patients. The idea behind the Act is that without the peer review privilege, medical professionals would not sit on peer review committees to evaluate other professionals. Thus, documents created specifically for peer review committees are protected under the Medical Studies Act. However, the Act does not protect documents created before a peer review process begins.

In 1993, the Illinois Supreme Court clarified that documents are only protected under the Medical Studies Act if they are part of the hospital’s internal peer review process. The court held the hospital could not declare that all incident documents prepared by hospital staff were part of the peer review process. Yet, until this recent case, the Quality Assurance Act’s protections had not yet been tested.

Nursing Homes Are Required to Turn Over Documents under Quality Assurance Act

Previously, courts had only interpreted the Medical Studies Act. In this case, the court held that the Quality Assurance Act should be interpreted similarly to the Medical Studies Act. Accordingly, the court found only documents prepared for internal peer review were protected.

The home contended the report was protected because it was eventually reviewed by the home’s quality assurance committee. It argued that if the quality assurance committee did not exist, the report would not exist. Yet the appeals court rejected the home’s argument, finding the documents were not protected. The court explained that these types of documents were of the same type that has been used for many years, before the home’s committee had been created, and they were not created for internal peer review. Thus, the home was required to turn over its internal report.

Retain an Experienced Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in Chicago

Nursing homes owe their residents an obligation to make sure that their premises are safe and to offer sufficient supervision to prevent injuries that are avoidable. Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not take the necessary precautions or staff their homes adequately, thereby failing to meet these obligations. If you or a loved one was harmed due to a fall in a nursing home, you may have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation. At Moll Law Group, our Chicago nursing home negligence lawyers provide aggressive representation to residents and their families. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us through our online form to set up a free consultation.

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Plaintiff’s Award Initially Reduced Due to Insurance Coverage but Restored on Appeal, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2017.