Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 03-CH-570. Honorable Gene L. Nottolini, Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman
Defendant Provena Hospitals, d/b/a Provena Saint Joseph Hospital (Hospital), appeals from an order of the circuit court of Kane County finding it in indirect civil contempt for failing to retract a report it made to the National Practitioner Data Bank regarding plaintiff, Evelyn Diaz, M.D. The court imposed upon the Hospital a monetary penalty of $500 per day for the first 14 days of noncompliance and $1,000 per day thereafter. The Hospital argues on appeal that we should vacate the contempt order and the monetary penalty because (1) its report did not violate the language of an earlier temporary restraining order, (2) federal law required it to report Dr. Diaz's failure to renew her privileges, and (3) Dr. Diaz has no private right of action to enjoin the Hospital from fulfilling its reporting obligation.
We allowed the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as amicus curiae, to file a brief in support of the Hospital. HHS argues that the trial court's orders are preempted by federal law to the extent that they require the Hospital to void a report made in compliance with the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA) (42 U.S.C.A. §11101 et seq. (West 1995)).
In order to facilitate our discussion of the facts of this case, we will first provide some background information about the HCQIA and the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Congress enacted the HCQIA in order to improve the quality of medical care by encouraging physicians to participate in peer review and by restricting incompetent physicians' ability to move from state to state without disclosure or discovery of their previous incompetent performance. 42 U.S.C.A. §11101 (West 1995). To address the latter issue, Congress created the NPDB, a national repository of information with the primary purpose of facilitating a comprehensive review of physicians' and other health care practitioners' professional credentials. National Practitioner Data Bank Guidebook, at E-1 (September 2001). Hospitals are required to report to the NPDB (1) professional review actions that are related to a physician's competence or conduct and that adversely affect clinical privileges for more than 30 days, and (2) a physician's voluntary surrender or restriction of clinical privileges while under, or to avoid, investigation. 42 U.S.C.A. §§11133(a)(1)(A), (a)(1)(B) (West 1995); National Practitioner Data Bank Guidebook, at E-2, Table E-1 (September 2001). Eligible entities may consult the NPDB to obtain information about a particular physician. National Practitioner Data Bank Guidebook, at E-1 (September 2001).
Turning to the record before us, it reveals that, on April 28, 2003, Dr. Diaz filed a verified complaint in the circuit court of Will County against the Hospital and its board of governors (Board). (Her cause of action was later transferred to Kane County.) Dr. Diaz alleged that, on November 5, 2002, the Hospital summarily suspended her medical staff membership and privileges. The notice of the summary suspension, which is attached as an exhibit to the complaint, indicates that Dr. Diaz's summary suspension was based upon (1) a review of her charts, which showed at least five incidents demonstrating a substandard level of care; (2) her unavailability for over four hours while on emergency call; (3) her failure to see patients in a timely manner following their admission to the Hospital, and (4) her noncompliance with the medical staff bylaws regarding timeliness of medical record documentation. On April 16, 2003, following a hearing, the Board decided to permanently revoke Dr. Diaz's privileges. Dr. Diaz alleged that the Hospital and the Board violated the Hospital Licensing Act (Act) (210 ILCS 85/1 et seq. (West 2002)) and the Hospital's medical staff bylaws during the summary suspension and subsequent hearing processes. Dr. Diaz asked the court (1) to declare the decision to summarily suspend and/or terminate her privileges to be in violation of the Act and the bylaws, (2) to enjoin the Hospital from terminating her privileges, and (3) to reinstate her to the medical staff. Dr. Diaz also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), requesting the same relief she sought in her complaint.
The trial court granted Dr. Diaz's motion for a TRO, which restored Dr. Diaz's privileges and enjoined the Hospital from "implementing" the termination of her privileges until the court could hold an evidentiary hearing. Consequently, the Hospital did not report the termination of Dr. Diaz's privileges to the NPDB. However, in July 2003, after the court had entered the TRO, Dr. Diaz let her privileges with the Hospital lapse. Then, on July 25, 2003, the Hospital reported Dr. Diaz to the NPDB for voluntarily surrendering her privileges while a peer review investigation was pending.
The Hospital's report to the NPDB stated as follows:
"Dr. Evelyn Diaz, while in the midst of a corrective proceeding, allowed her medical staff membership and privileges to lapse on July 12, 2003, without applying for renewal. On November 25, 2002, Dr. Evelyn Diaz's privileges were summarily suspended for a variety of reasons relating to quality of care. Following a hearing on November 20, 2002, the medical staff hearing panel lifted the suspension but imposed oversight requirements on Dr. Diaz. Consistent with the medical staff bylaws, the process with respect to her privileges continued until April 16, 2003, when the Board of Directors finally decided to terminate her privileges effective April 30, 2003. Dr. Diaz filed a lawsuit alleging that she had not been afforded due process consistent with the requirements of the medical staff bylaws. On May 28, 2003, the court entered a temporary restraining order allowing Dr. Diaz to maintain her medical staff membership and clinical privileges until the court could conduct an evidentiary hearing on the issue. That hearing is now set to take place on September 24, 2003. Dr. Diaz did not admit any patients to Provena Saint Joseph Hospital between January 1, 2003 and July 12, 2003. She claims that her decision not to seek renewal of her medical staff membership and privileges at Provena Saint Joseph Hospital was unrelated to the corrective action which had been initiated against her."
After the Hospital filed its report with the NPDB, Dr. Diaz filed a "Petition for Rule to Show Cause and for Award of Immediate Mandatory and Injunctive Relief," arguing that the Hospital had violated the TRO by filing its report with the NPDB. Dr. Diaz asked the court to require the Hospital to submit to the NPDB a "void" report, which would retract the previously filed report. On August 8, 2003, the court granted Dr. Diaz's motion, entered a rule to show cause against the Hospital, and ordered the Hospital to submit a void report to the NPDB that same day.
On August 11, 2003, the Hospital filed a petition for interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 307(d) (188 Ill. 2d R. 307(d). We struck the petition after concluding that the order appealed from did not fall within the ambit of Rule 307(d). We also denied the Hospital's motion to stay the trial court's order pending appeal. However, we ordered the parties to submit briefs on the issue of whether we had jurisdiction pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(5) (155 Ill. 2d R. 304(b)(5)).
On August 28, 2003, the trial court again ordered the Hospital to submit a void report to the NPDB. The Hospital did not comply with the court's order. On September 4, 2003, following a hearing, the court found the Hospital guilty of indirect civil contempt for refusing to comply with the August 28 order and ordered the Hospital to pay a monetary penalty of $500 per day for the first 14 days of noncompliance and $1,000 per day thereafter. The court denied the Hospital's motion to stay the contempt order pending a posthearing motion or appeal.
The following day, September 5, 2003, the Hospital filed a notice of appeal and a motion to stay the contempt order. We granted the motion and stayed any action by the trial court to enforce its findings of contempt predicated on the Hospital's refusal to file a void ...