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Reviewing Important Illinois Healthcare Court Rulings: Evidence of Malpractice Insurance Generally Inadmissible

In our second of a series of posts looking at the impact of several recent court rulings on healthcare law in Illinois, we look at The Private Bank v. Silver Cross Hospital and Medical Centers, 2017 IL App (1st) 161863. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that an emergency room physician breached the standard of care by negligently delaying to treat her fiancé, who suffered an anoxic brain injury while admitted to the ICU for pneumonia. Plaintiff sought damages including loss of consortium and loss of a chance to marry, which were dismissed as Illinois does not recognize claims for the loss of a chance to marry or loss of consortium on behalf of a patient’s fiancé. 

The Court found that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence as to when Defendant physician was notified of the patient’s condition to prove that he delayed in leaving the emergency room to treat the patient.Even Plaintiff’s expert admitted that he could not find any facts supporting a delay in treatment because he did not know when Defendant physician was told about the patient’s condition, and therefore, he did not know how long it took for Defendant to respond to such information. As such, the jury could only engage in speculation about whether Defendant physician breached the standard of care, and Plaintiff’s claims failed. 

Furthermore, the Court held that Plaintiff could not introduce evidence that Defendant physician was not covered by malpractice insurance if he left the ER to treat a patient for a non-code blue emergency.Generally, evidence of a defendant’s malpractice insurance is inadmissible unless “[the evidence] bears materially upon the credibility of a witness or an impeaching statement.” The Court found that evidence that Defendant physician was not insured for non-code blue emergencies was not materially significant as Plaintiff failed to submit evidence about when Defendant physician was informed of the patient’s condition, and therefore, the jury lacked facts to determine the duration of the alleged delay. 

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