Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 99 MR 275 Honorable )Michael Sullivan, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge
This case comes to us pursuant to the application for leave to appeal, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308 (155 Ill. 2d R. 308), filed by the claimant, Lynn Anderson. The circuit court of McHenry County, Illinois, certified the following question on which it found a substantial ground for a difference of opinion, and the court determined that an immediate appeal might materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.
The question identified by the trial court is as follows:
"Whether ex parte conferences between an injured worker's health care provider(s) and the employer or their legal representative(s) are, or should be prohibited by:
1. Operation of the doctrine enunciated in Petrillo v. Syntex, 148 Ill. App. 3d 581, 499 N.E.2d 952 (1986), or
2. The right to privacy found in the Illinois Constitution, or
3. Section 8-802 of the Illinois Rules of Evidence, or
4. Administrative Rule 7110.70 et seq. of the Illinois Industrial Commission, or
5. The common law physician-patient privilege, or
6. The public policy against such communications described in Vernon Best v. Taylor Machine Works, 179 Ill. 2d 367, 485, 689 N.E.2d 1057, 1100 (1997)."
This court granted claimant's application for leave to appeal. The following are the pertinent facts contained in the record. On November 17, 1997, Lynn Anderson (claimant) filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission (Commission) alleging an injury to her left wrist on September 30, 1997, resulting from repetitive trauma. On that date, she reported to her supervisor that her left wrist was "burning." There had been no indication of prior wrist pain. Claimant's supervisor sent her to see Ms. Rhonda Pencak, the employer's "health service coordinator." Although Pencak appeared to be an employee of Hydraulics, Inc. (employer), she was actually an employee of Disability Management Services. Pencak provided on-site contract services at the employer's facility. Her duties included "taking care of injuries, handling workers compensation, etc."
Pencak sent claimant to the company's clinic, Occupational Health, where claimant treated with Dr. Jablonowski from October 1, 1997, through October 27, 1997. After each visit from claimant, Dr. Jablonowski sent Pencak a work qualification report (WQR) on claimant, each time stating that claimant's symptoms were work-related and that she needed light-duty restrictions. Based upon Dr. Jablonowski's recommendations, the employer provided claimant with light duty.
On November 3, 1997, Dr. Jablonowski referred claimant to Dr. Cox, who diagnosed a fracture of the left wrist. A copy of Dr. Cox's report was sent to Pencak. After receipt of Dr. Cox's report, Pencak immediately conferred with the employer's insurance carrier and counsel. At this conference, it was decided to deny claimant's claim. Thereafter, the employer refused to pay ...