Examples of Medical Malpractice

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Medical malpractice affects countless individuals across the United States. It is an unfortunate reality that within the healthcare system, errors and negligence can lead to life-threatening consequences for patients. While not all medical errors result in catastrophic harm, they are deemed the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

When faced with the life-threatening nature of severe injuries resulting from medical malpractice, victims are often left wondering what steps they can take to seek justice and compensation. Medical malpractice victims can legally file lawsuits against those responsible for their injuries.

Successful compensation claims require the support of a law firm with an impressive track record. At Malman Law Firm, our attorneys understand the issues surrounding medical malpractice cases. A medical malpractice lawyer understands the toll medical errors can take on victims and their families. As such, they can help victims navigate the legal process with empathy and determination.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a term used to explain situations in which healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners, fail to provide the standard of care expected, leading to harm or injury to a patient.

In other words, it represents a breach of the trust patients place in their healthcare professionals to deliver competent and safe medical treatment. In Illinois, medical malpractice occurs when an injury or death happens and is directly linked to a treatment.

Understanding the Standard of Care for Medical Professionals

In Illinois, medical professionals are held to a standard of care during their practice. This standard of care outlines the level of competence, skill, and attention that patients can reasonably expect from healthcare providers.

It is this standard of care for medical professionals that serves as a benchmark against which the alleged medical malpractices are evaluated. Basically, the standard of care is determined by comparing the actions of a healthcare provider to what a reasonably skilled and competent practitioner in the same field would do under similar circumstances.

It considers various factors, including the patient’s medical history, the prevailing medical knowledge at the time, and the specific circumstances of the case.

The standard of care is critical in the pursuit of damages. For medical malpractice to occur, leading to an injury deemed compensable harm, the defendant must have done or failed to do something that fell short of the medical standard of care.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

There are several forms of medical malpractice that have allegedly caused victims untold suffering and sometimes death. Common examples of medical malpractice involve the following:

Failure to Treat or Refer

This occurs when a healthcare provider neglects to provide appropriate treatment or fails to refer a patient to a specialist when necessary. For example, a general practitioner does not refer a patient with concerning cardiac symptoms to a cardiologist, leading to a heart condition going undiagnosed and untreated.

Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis happens when a healthcare professional incorrectly identifies a patient’s condition. Recent research reveals that around 795,000 Americans suffer permanent disability or die as a result of misdiagnoses.

Examples of diagnosis errors include:

  • Delayed diagnosis: Delayed diagnosis is a result of a healthcare provider taking an extended period to identify a patient’s medical condition, which can result in the progression of the disease and the potential for a worsened outcome.
  • Wrong diagnosis: This happens when a healthcare provider identifies a patient’s condition incorrectly. This can lead to the administration of inappropriate treatments and unnecessary emotional distress.
  • Missed diagnosis: When a healthcare provider fails to identify a patient’s medical condition entirely, the patient’s symptoms and underlying health issues are dismissed. This may lead to more serious consequences.
  • Over-diagnosis: This involves incorrect identification of a medical condition that does not actually exist or would not have caused harm if left untreated.
  • Under-diagnosis: This happens when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a condition that does exist and requires treatment.

The top misdiagnosed illnesses include stroke, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and infections.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors encompass a wide range of mistakes during surgical procedures. Examples of such errors include:

  • Wrong surgical procedures
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Leaving sponges and other surgical instruments inside the body
  • Injuries to organs and tissues during surgery

Surgical errors may occur due to various reasons:

  • Medical staff distractions
  • Miscommunication between medical staff
  • Inadequate training
  • Equipment failure
  • Fatigue

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors involve problems with administering anesthesia during surgery. If a doctor administers too much anesthesia, it can cause serious issues such as brain damage or death. Conversely, not providing enough anesthesia can result in a patient waking up during surgery and experiencing excruciating pain.

Common anesthesia errors include the following:

  • Failure to intubate a patient when administering anesthesia
  • Wrong type of anesthesia administration
  • Not informing the patient of the benefits and the potential risks of anesthesia
  • Failure to track patient when on anesthesia
  • Failure to observe anesthesia complications, such as an allergic reaction

Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes are a leading cause of injury and death in the US. Medication errors may occur as a result of the following:

  • Wrong medication
  • Dispensing the wrong medication to a patient at a pharmacy.
  • Not checking the patient’s side effects of medication
  • Administering medications that interact with one another
  • Incorrect dose of medication
  • Administering medication orally instead of intravenous
  • Failure to give adequate education on the medication side effects
  • Errors in labeling medications
  • Failure to give proper advice on proper dosages
  • Miscommunication about medication orders leads to medical errors.
  • Administering a medication intended for another patient

Childbirth Mistakes

Childbirth injuries can have tragic consequences for both mothers and infants. These injuries may be caused by:

  • Failure to monitor the baby’s well-being
  • Improper use of medical instruments during delivery, such as forceps
  • Inadequate response to complications during childbirth
  • Inappropriate labor induction techniques
  • Not identifying signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to address preterm labor
  • Aggressively turning the baby during delivery
  • Mishandling of the baby after birth
  • Failure to monitor acceleration variability or decelerations

These childbirth errors may lead to various preventable issues, such as cerebral palsy, kernicterus, and brachial plexus injuries, among others.

Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

This malpractice involves healthcare providers not adequately informing patients of the potential benefits, alternatives, and risks of a medical procedure and obtaining their informed consent. If a patient undergoes a procedure without understanding its potential risks, leading to injuries, it can result in a valid medical malpractice claim.

Proving Medical Malpractice

To have a valid case, it must align with the legal criteria for malpractice. This entails demonstrating various critical elements to establish a medical malpractice claim.

A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed

The first element to establish is that a doctor-patient relationship existed. This relationship signifies that the healthcare provider had a professional duty to take care of the patient and make medical decisions on their behalf. This can be proven through medical records, appointments, or other forms of communication.

The Healthcare Provider Was Negligent

To demonstrate medical malpractice, it must be shown that the healthcare provider acted negligently in their care. Negligence implies that the provider deviated from the recognized standard of care expected in their field.

The standard is determined by comparing the provider’s actions to what a reasonably competent professional would have done in similar circumstances. Your lawyer will collaborate with expert witnesses to establish negligence.

The Provider’s Negligence Caused the Injury

It’s not sufficient to prove negligence alone; it must be shown that the provider’s negligence directly caused the patient’s injury. This requires a clear link between the healthcare provider’s substandard care and the harm suffered by the patient. Your attorney may consult medical experts to establish this causal connection.

The Injury Resulted in Damages

Lastly, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that the injury resulted in damages. Common damages involved in medical malpractice include:

  • Physical pain
  • emotional suffering
  • Additional medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing medical and rehabilitation costs

The nature and extent of the damages play a significant role in determining the compensation a victim may be legally entitled to in a medical malpractice case.

How to Get Compensation for Medical Malpractice

In Illinois, pursuing compensation for medical malpractice is a process that relies on specific legal parameters. To initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must demonstrate that your injury resulted from the negligence of a healthcare professional or provider. The scope of liability extends to licensed physicians, such as:

  • Surgeons
  • Medical specialists
  • Dentists
  • Optometrists
  • Physical therapists
  • ER doctors
  • General physicians

Also, healthcare entities may be held liable for medical malpractice as well. These include institutions such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Home health agencies
  • Emergency medical services providers
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Ambulatory surgical treatment centers

One unique aspect of Illinois law is the application of the doctrine of modified comparative fault when determining damages for personal injury cases. This doctrine allows compensation to be awarded even if the injured party is partially at fault, as long as their responsibility does not exceed 50%. For instance, if a patient is found to be 25% responsible for an injury due to their own actions, they can still seek damages, but the awarded amount will be reduced to account for their share of the fault.

Notably, Illinois does not impose a cap on the economic damages recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Economic damages may include lost earnings, medical bills, and other financial losses occurring as a result of the malpractice.

To file a medical malpractice claim in Illinois, an expert must establish that the defendant, typically a healthcare professional, did not meet the required standard of care. Your medical malpractice attorney will handle this step to ensure your claim has merit.

To address the issue of meritless medical malpractice claims, Illinois has implemented a specific procedure. When initiating a medical malpractice lawsuit, an affidavit must accompany the initial complaint filed with the court. This affidavit serves as a sworn statement from a qualified healthcare professional, attesting that there is a reasonable cause to believe that malpractice did occur.

Many medical malpractice cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements, while others may progress to a civil court trial. During the legal process, the disclosure phase allows concerned parties to assess medical records and doctor’s notes to establish the facts of the case and determine liability and damages.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Law Firm Help?

Before filing your claim, you want to ensure that your case has merit. Many medical malpractice attorneys offer free initial case assessments to discuss their situation and determine whether they have a valid claim.

One of the primary roles of a medical malpractice attorney is to build a case on behalf of the victim. This involves analyzing medical records, consulting with expert witnesses, and conducting thorough investigations to establish the negligence of the healthcare provider.

Importantly, your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to secure a fair settlement. He will work to ensure that you are compensated adequately for your damages. These damages include both economic and non-economic expenses.

What To Do After Suffering a Medical Malpractice Injury

If you’ve experienced a medical malpractice injury, we recommend taking immediate steps to improve your chances of recovery:

  • Seek medical attention from a different provider: Your health is the top consideration. Ensure you receive proper medical care to address the long-term and immediate impact of the malpractice.
  • Document everything: Maintain records of your medical treatment, symptoms, and any communication with healthcare providers. These records will be used in building your case.
  • Consult a legal professional: Reach out to a medical malpractice attorney. They will evaluate your situation, determine the viability of your case, and guide you through the legal claim process.
  • Preserve evidence: Ensure that you retain relevant medical records, test results, and any physical evidence. These records are crucial in establishing your claim.

Contact a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

There are various types of medical malpractices. If you believe you’ve been a victim of any medical malpractice in Illinois, you need to start your journey of seeking compensation immediately. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer from Malman Law can guide and support you as you seek justice for your injuries and losses.

At our law firm, we have handled several claims related to medical malpractice lawsuits, and we can help in building a valid claim. Contact us today for a free case review.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023

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