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Illinois physicians want limits on lawsuits--
except when they sue their colleagues

(4/29/2004) -- Crain's Chicago Business reports that Illinois doctors are united on limiting damages in medical malpractice cases, except when they are the victims.

As in Pennsylvania, there is a major effort underway in Illinois to put caps on pain and suffering awards in cases where patients are harmed by medical negligence.

The article in Crain’s addresses what inevitably happens when doctors themselves become the victims of medical negligence.

The article tells the story of a 61-year-old retired oncologist in Kankakee, Ill., a pro-tort reformer who was sued by a patient's family. According to the article, the doctor was ultimately dismissed from the multiple-defendant malpractice case, but says he found the situation “very traumatic."

According to the article, the doctor in 2001 sued his orthopedic surgeon, quarreling with the surgeon's decision to operate on three, rather than four levels of his compressed spinal cord. The doctor says that left him with pain that cut short a fulfilling medical career, according to the article.

"I intended to practice until I was 70," he says in the article. "The lost income . . . is really substantial." He adds: "To say nothing of the pain and suffering." His suit doesn't ask for a specific sum. "I look at (malpractice) from a different point of view now," according to the article.

The article also quotes a Chicago plaintiffs' lawyer who has represented at least a half-dozen physicians--and many more nonphysicians--suing doctors for malpractice. As plaintiffs, he says, doctors are reluctant to settle and make noise about yanking the defendant's medical license, which very rarely happens, according to the article.

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