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Doctors Behaving Badly: Illinois obstetrician’s malpractice case leaves one patient victorious, others stonewalled

Doctors Behaving Badly: Illinois obstetrician’s malpractice case leaves one patient victorious, others stonewalled

Picture of William Heisel

For medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago, Dr. Robert Levi-D'Ancona's name sounds like victory. For patients, however, his name could become synonymous with a major patient safety defeat.

Levi-D'Ancona delivered a baby girl in 2005: Abigaile LeBron. The delivery went badly, and Abigaile ended up with severe mental and physical impairments. That same year, the Illinois legislature passed a that amended earlier state malpractice laws and capped at $500,000. This would mean, in essence, that because Abigaile hadn't held a job as an infant, she and her family wouldn't be able to recover more than that, including their legal fees.

Her mother, Frances LeBron, filed suit in 2006 against Levi-D'Ancona, the delivery nurse and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, where Abigaile was born, alleging that because of the failures on the part of all three Abigaile ended up with, among other things, cerebral palsy and a lifelong reliance on a gastronomy tube.

LeBron's attorney saw an opportunity to go after that malpractice cap, too. took the case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which in February. Plaintiffs' attorneys and many law professors as a victory for patients, and the case now is by legal scholars, patient advocates and bloggers of all stripes.

Even Levi-D'Ancona's attorney, Richard H. Donohue, had to admit defeat, , "Pick your deity. Buddha, Allah, Muhammad, Moses or Jesus Christ, or whoever you believe in, could not get a damage cap in the state of Illinois."

What patient advocates didn't say, though, was that the court also took away a key piece of patient protection.

The same law that allowed the state to limit malpractice payments also allowed it in 2008 to create a searchable database of detailed physician profiles that gave patients access to physicians' educational backgrounds, their disciplinary histories and their legal records.

After the LeBron ruling, all of that disappeared. When patients go to the of the state's Division of Professional Regulation, they are met with a statement saying that the Supreme Court ruling has forced the agency to shut the profile page down: The Department is reviewing its options for reinstatement and apologizes for any inconvenience.

Coming Friday: What do you do when the doctor database for an entire state goes dark?

Related Posts:

 

Chicago's Buried Bodies, Part 1: Illinois regulators make backgrounding doctors near-impossible

Chicago's Buried Bodies, Part 2: Millions in malpractice judgments amount to nothing in Illinois

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