We trust our nation’s health care professionals, from doctors and nurses to dentists and therapists, to provide us with the best care possible. Whether we’re attending a yearly checkup or having major surgery, we put a portion of our wellbeing into the hands of someone else to ensure we’re living to our fullest capacity.
When a healthcare provider doesn’t meet the standards we expect or neglects the oaths they’ve taken, and we’re injured, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Our Southern Illinois medical malpractice lawyers have over 20 years of experience representing victims of medical malpractice. We understand the legal aspects of medical malpractice and are prepared to help you recover the damages you’re eligible for, so you can focus on your recovery.
What is Medical Malpractice?
According to experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 250,000 deaths each year, in the United States alone, are caused by medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when, as a patient, you sustain an injury caused by a medical professional’s negligence. These injuries often result from errors in diagnosis or treatment, during surgery, or during the aftercare of a procedure.
All medical patients have the right to a standard of care. This means that a patient has the right to expect to be treated with care that is consistent with what is deemed acceptable by the general healthcare community. If a doctor or other healthcare professional neglect the standard of care, and a patient is injured and experiences significant damage in regard to their health, finances, and quality of life, the doctor or hospital may be held accountable for their actions or inactions.
How Does Medical Malpractice Happen?
Human error is the most common reason medical malpractice occurs. Doctors may be fatigued, inexperienced, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or simply distracted when they injure a patient.
Lack of Accountability
Hospitals and doctors with trusted, well-known names are often assumed to be the best. This isn’t always the case. When reputation outweighs recent results, medical malpractice can ensue. It’s also a concerning fact that doctors, in most areas, are not required to undergo any license renewals or continuing education.
Poorly Coordinated Care
Hospitals are often understaffed and overcrowded, especially in urban areas. When this happens, a patient’s care isn’t always coordinated properly. If a doctor orders a certain test or procedure but isn’t properly notified when the results are ready, serious medical conditions can go undiagnosed or ignored.
Patients who are uninsured are at a higher risk for receiving poorly coordinated care.
Lack of Protocols
While every patient’s situation is unique, there should be a system in place for following the necessary protocols. While hospitals generally have set protocol and requirements for patient care, it doesn’t mean those standards are abided by. If a patient’s family history is neglected, a misdiagnosis is possible. Or if a patient isn’t properly identified before a surgery, they may receive the wrong operation.
Fragmented Quality of Care
It’s an unfortunate truth that hospital administration is focused on their overhead. When this happens, uninsured patients are the most likely to suffer. If a patient cannot afford their treatment, even if it’s life-saving, they may be denied service or receive care that is less than standard. Most doctors take an oath to “first, do no harm;” however, hospital administration doesn’t always make that easy.
Which Serious Injuries Can Be Caused by Medical Malpractice?
Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis. The failure to diagnosis or misdiagnosis an ailment, injury, or disease is the most common medical malpractice injury. Such an injury can result in permanent disability or death.
Unnecessary Surgery. In the event a doctor misreads or ignores lab tests, unnecessary surgeries or procedures may be conducted. If this happens, unnecessary recover time and time away from work are likely.
Surgical Errors. If a patient is not properly identified and verified prior to a procedure or surgery, surgical errors can occur. Some patients may have the wrong side of their body operated on or receive a surgery that was meant for another patient. Surgical errors also happen when surgeons damage nerves or leave medical equipment inside patients, and when surgical equipment isn’t properly sterilized.
Improper Medications. The overdosage of a medication can lead to organ damage. If the wrong medication is given, or if one medications react badly to another, severe complications are likely.
Premature Discharge. If a hospital becomes overcrowded, patients may be released before they should be. Prematurely discharging a patient can lead to additional medical complications and an increased risk of infection. The patient is likely to return to the hospital in a worse condition.
What Are the Medical Malpractice Laws in Illinois?
As a special type of negligence claim, medical malpractice claims in Illinois have to prove duty, breach of duty, injury caused by the breach, and damages.
Duty is related to the standard of care a health care professional is supposed to provide every patient. The breach of duty occurs when that standard is not met, due to negligent actions or inactions. It has to be proven that the breach of duty caused the injury. The damages are then calculated so the patient can receive compensation for the burdens.
In conjunction with your claim, Illinois requires you attach an affidavit of merit. An affidavit of merit shows the court or jury you have consulted a healthcare professional about your injury. The person should be knowledgeable about your medical history and injury, currently practicing or teaching medicine, and should fully understand that aspects of your lawsuit. If you do not include an affidavit, your entire claim could be dismissed.
The statute of limitation in Illinois for a medical malpractice claim is established by statute 735 ILCS 5. According to the law, patients must file the lawsuit within two years of the date on which the patient knew or suspected medical malpractice occurred and caused their injury. If the patient is under the age of 18 the case must be filed within 8 years, but not after the 22 birthday.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Unlike some states, there is no cap on damages for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois. The damages you may be eligible in the event of medical malpractice are both economic and noneconomic.
- Medical bills and expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Humiliation due to permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment
How Can a Southern Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
A successful medical malpractice claim will prove the following circumstances occurred during the time you received care:
- The standard of care was violated.
- Your injury was sustained due to negligence.
- Your injury resulted in significant damage.
Medical malpractice cases are often complex and multifaceted. It’s critical to have an experienced legal team behind you while you’re fighting for your rights. Our attorneys will do whatever we can to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your financial burdens and suffering. Contact our Marion, IL medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.