Court ruling allows physicians to know accusers, but...

September 1, 2004



An Illinois Appellate Court has provided guidance for defendant physicians who want to gain access to the name of a doctor who anonymously signs an affidavit vouching for the merit of a medical malpractice case. The court's opinion will not be published, however, a move that prevents attorneys from using the case in future lawsuits.

The appeals court ruled that a physician named in a malpractice lawsuit can obtain the name of the doctor who signs a certificate of merit if it can be shown that the affidavit was created in bad faith, according to American Medical News (6/7/04). The court further ruled that defendant physicians who sue to gain access to these names can use evidence from the initial case or new findings to prove their cases.

Illinois is one of 14 states that require a physician to sign a certificate of merit before a malpractice lawsuit can be filed. It is 1 of 5 states that does not require the disclosure of the name of the doctor signing the affidavit.

Because the court refused to publish the opinion, it cannot be used as legal precedent. The state legislature, though, is considering a package of tort reform bills—one of which would require that the name and address of the professional signing the certificate of merit be stated.