Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Lower Court Order Compelling Production of Accident Report in Nursing Home Abuse Case

hanging file foldersIn a recent case from the Illinois Court of Appeals, Second District, the court was faced with deciding whether documents produced by a nursing home facility were discoverable in a lawsuit alleging that the decedent suffered injuries while in the defendant’s care. The facts of the case were as follows. The plaintiff filed a complaint on behalf of the decedent, alleging that the decedent suffered injuries as a result of a fall while in the care of the defendant. As part of the litigation process, the plaintiff served discovery requests on the defendant, seeking all of the reports created regarding the fall incident. The defendant refused to produce these reports, claiming that they were privileged according to the Quality Assurance Act and the Medical Studies Act because the reports were “prepared for the Facility’s Quality Assurance Committee.”

In response to the denial, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant to produce the reports. In the motion, the plaintiff argued that the reports were not prepared for the purpose of quality control and that they were not prepared by an internal quality control committee. The defendant opposed the motion and offered a copy of the reports to the judge presiding over the matter for an in camera review. In this process, only the judge is able to review the sought-after documents so that he or she can determine whether the production of the documents would result in some harm or prejudice to the producing party.

The defendant also provided an affidavit from one of the defendant’s employees who was working at the time the defendant fell. The affidavit claimed that the reports were prepared for quality assurance purposes.

Ultimately, the lower court ordered the defendant to produce the report, finding that it was simply factual and that it did not contain any improvement recommendations or mentions of quality control. It also noted that there was no indication that a quality control committee reviewed the report. The defendant refused to produce the report, and the trial court found the defendant in contempt. The defendant appealed.

On review, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s order compelling the defendant to produce the report. Relying on precedent from similar cases analyzing when a hospital or medical facility must produce reports, the court rejected the notion that an oversight committee could rely on the Medical Studies Act protection by stating in advance that any and all incident reports prepared were prepared for a peer-review process. According to the court, such a policy would allow a facility “to keep everything privileged except a resident’s own medical records.”

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a nursing home-related accident, the dedicated and compassionate nursing home abuse lawyers at Therman Law Offices are prepared to assist you. We have provided knowledgeable legal counsel to victims throughout Illinois and understand just how devastating and painful this type of injury can be for a victim and his or her family. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your rights, so contact us now at 312-588-1900 or contact us online to get started.

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