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Niven v. Siqueira

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 21, 1985.

TODD NIVEN ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

EDIR B. SIQUEIRA ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Edwin M. Berman, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

In late 1979 plaintiffs, Todd and Thomas Niven, filed a medical malpractice action in the circuit court of Cook County against Dr. Edir B. Siqueira, Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Northwestern), and several persons associated with Northwestern's administration. On plaintiffs' application the circuit court issued a subpoena asking for certain documents in the possession of a third party, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (the Joint Commission), relating to Northwestern's accreditation. Both Northwestern and the Joint Commission moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that the subpoenaed documents were confidential and not discoverable pursuant to section 8-2101 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 8-2101). (Sections 8-2101 through 8-2105 of the Code of Civil Procedure will hereinafter be referred to as the Act.) The circuit court denied the motions to quash but certified for interlocutory appeal the question of the Act's applicability to the documents in question. The Joint Commission and Northwestern filed a petition for leave to appeal to the appellate court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308 (87 Ill.2d R. 308) and also petitioned directly to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(b) (94 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). Both petitions were denied.

Plaintiffs then moved to compel production of the documents. Northwestern was allowed to intervene in opposition to the motion to compel. The president of the Joint Commission, Dr. John E. Affeldt, informed the court that he would not comply with the subpoena, and the court thereupon found him in civil contempt. Dr. Affeldt was fined $10.

Dr. Affeldt, the Joint Commission, and Northwestern appealed the contempt order to the appellate court, and also petitioned directly to this court under Rule 302(b) (87 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). We granted direct appeal. The Illinois Hospital Association was allowed to participate as amicus curiae, urging that the documents in question be held to be confidential and nondiscoverable.

Appellants raise a single issue for review: Does the Act protect from discovery surveys, accreditation evaluations, and other records in the hands of the Joint Commission? Plaintiffs, on cross-appeal, raise three additional issues: (1) Does the current, amended version of the Act control this appeal, or is this appeal instead governed by the Act as it existed at the time the lawsuit was initiated? (2) Have appellants presented a record sufficient to warrant quashing the subpoena? and (3) If the Act does exempt the documents in question from discovery, does this result render the Act unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers?

Defendant Edir B. Siqueira, M.D., performed several operations upon the brain of plaintiff Todd Niven between 1975 and 1977, utilizing a procedure known as stereotactic brain surgery. Plaintiffs claim that Todd Niven was injured as a result of Dr. Siqueira's negligent performance of those operations. Plaintiffs also allege that defendant Northwestern and the named administrators were negligent in allowing Dr. Siqueira clinical privileges to perform stereotactic surgery. Amongst plaintiffs' specific allegations they claim that Northwestern failed to adequately review Dr. Siqueira's clinical privileges, alleging as a standard of care the Joint Commission's accreditation standards. (A cause of action against hospitals for negligent supervision of care was approved by this court in Darling v. Charleston Community Memorial Hospital (1965), 33 Ill.2d 326.)

On July 26, 1983, pursuant to their claims against Northwestern and the hospital administrators, plaintiffs caused to be served on the Joint Commission a subpoena requesting documents relating to Northwestern's accreditation. Specifically, the subpoena asked for the following materials:

"Any and all records, documents and other papers and instruments of writing regarding or relating to McGraw [sic] Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois for the years 1972 through 1982, inclusive of the followings [sic]:

a) Any and all applications for survey hospital [sic], survey profiles, all annual surveys for each service category

all survey reports

recommendations and reports, all reports of [the] Joint Commission and all hospital surveyor reports and records.

b) Any and all documents reflecting or regarding accreditation history of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

c) All information given and presented to on site surveyors and field representatives and all summations [sic] conferences, public ...


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