Carbondale Malpractice message has not caused state action

By Gus Bode

Bost says more cities should pass malpractice ordinances

The medical malpractice ordinance passed by the Carbondale City Council on July 6, which was supposed to be a message to state lawmakers about the crisis in the Carbondale medical profession, has not pushed the Illinois General Assembly into taking significant action on the problem yet.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said state lawmakers could be called to special session on the topic, but there is still no word.


Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Administrator George Maroney said he hopes a special session will happen so the issue gets more attention.

“One option is when the governor and [Illinois House Speaker Michael] Madigan get back from Boston, they can get back into it and call a special session,” Maroney said.

Bost said Carbondale’s message is something that should be heard throughout the state because the pressure of insurance premiums is not affecting the entire state to the same extent.

“First off, it’s to send a message statewide,” Bost said. “We know the importance of caps and a sensible reform, or without, make Illinois a hotbed for insurance costs.”

One of the reasons Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole said a medical malpractice ordinance was needed was because a number of physicians were leaving Carbondale for neighboring states.

However, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has reported an increase in the number physicians and surgeons in Illinois.

In July 2003 there were 71,419 physicians and surgeons licensed in Illinois. As of June 2004, there were 76, 062.


While the number of licensed physicians and surgeons have increased steadily over last year, the number of visiting and limited temporary licenses have decreased, but by only 54 licenses.

Sandy Hudson, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale medical staff assistant, said the Carbondale hospital is an exception to the trend. She said there are currently 199 medical staff personnel at the hospital and the number has not moved too much either way recently.

“I know we’ve had a few leave, but we’ve had a few come … it’s not evenly specialized,” Hudson said.

According to Hudson and Maroney, the numbers have not changed drastically lately, but some areas have lost more than others and certain departments, like neurosurgery, have been affected more.

“What you haven’t seen is I’ve recruited a neurosurgeon because I haven’t and because I can’t,” Maroney said.

The main question, according to Bost, is whether lawmakers in the Chicago area are feeling the pressures and asking the question of whether medical malpractice reform is needed.

“I hope it does,” Bost said. “With Democrats in Chicago, the question is are they feeling it in the Chicago area like we are, too.”

Maroney agreed that the medical malpractice problem, while being a statewide issue, is felt worse in some areas, with Carbondale being one of them.

“The problem is alive and well in the entire state,” Maroney said. “It’s worse in certain parts.”

Bost said when it comes down to the medical malpractice problem Southern Illinois is facing, “local legislatures know” what it is doing to the region, and if other communities follow in Carbondale’s footsteps, it should send a message to their state representatives.