Medical malpractice occurs in many ways. The more you know about the different types of negligence committed by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, the better you can understand what happened to you or your loved one.
Please take a close look at our information in this section on types of medical malpractice that can harm patients and their families. You should follow up on what you learn by scheduling a free, confidential consultation with us at our Chicago or Waukegan offices or a location that is most convenient for you.
Malpractice Laywers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., believe that injured patients and their families throughout Illinois deserve a careful investigation of their case and a thorough explanation of their legal options.
Contact us by phone or online to get started today in your case.
If the diagnosis of a medical condition is missed or delayed, it prevents you from getting the treatment you need. Your condition can, in turn, quickly worsen.
Diagnostic errors occur when:
Missed or delayed diagnoses frequently happen. For example, one study estimates that 28 percent of cancer cases in the U.S. are misdiagnosed, resulting in patients failing to get timely treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Strokes and heart attacks also are commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions. For example, a study of stroke victims found that roughly 1 in 10 visited the hospital less than 30 days before the stroke occurred. Out of those patients, 1 in 4 went home with no diagnosis or the diagnosis of a benign condition.
Doctors, nurses, lab techs and others may all be responsible if you or a loved one is harmed by the failure to properly diagnose your medical condition.
Preventable medical mistakes can occur during the planning, pregnancy and labor/delivery stages. These errors can lead to a child suffering a disability such as cerebral palsy. In some cases, they may cause a tragic loss of life.
For example, many parents today undergo prenatal genetic testing to determine whether there is a risk of the mother giving birth to a child with a certain condition such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.
During a woman’s pregnancy, she will trust her obstetrician to closely monitor the pregnancy, order proper tests and prescribe safe medications. If the obstetrician is negligent, it may lead to the failure to identify an ectopic pregnancy, gestational diabetes, birth defects or other harm.
Mistakes may also be made during labor and delivery by doctors, nurses or midwives, leading to devastating birth injuries. These errors may cause a child to suffer physical trauma or deprive a child of oxygen, leading to brain damage.
In many cases, the error involves the failure to respond in a timely manner to complications such as excessive bleeding, fetal distress, shoulder dystocia, uterine rupture or umbilical cord entanglement. A doctor may fail to perform a timely C-section or misuse forceps or vacuum extractors.
After a child is born, the hospital must continue to closely monitor the child’s condition. The hospital should take proper action if breathing difficulties, heart problems, jaundice or other medical issues arise.
Medication can be used to stabilize or improve a patient’s condition. However, serious harm results from mistakes which are made when prescribing and administering medication. In fact, one study found that 1.5 million people suffer harm each year due to medication errors.
For instance, a doctor may prescribe medication that triggers an allergic reaction or dangerously interacts with other drugs a patient is taking. Patients also suffer harm when they are given the wrong type or dosage of medication, or when they are not given medication according to the right schedule.
Other medication errors involve miscommunication, mislabeling, prescribing medication for “off-label” uses and failing to monitor patients.
Anesthesia errors happen when doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals fail to properly check equipment and monitor a patient’s vital signs and level of consciousness during surgery.
If a device malfunctions or anesthesia is negligently administered during an operation, a patient can suffer a stroke or heart attack, brain damage, psychological harm or death.
For example, general anesthesia should allow a patient to sleep and feel nothing during a surgery. However, if an error occurs, a patient may instead be alert and experience severe pain during the procedure while, at the same time, being unable to communicate that he or she is awake. This is commonly called “anesthesia awareness.”
Mistakes can also be made when administering spinal and epidural anesthesia, leading to complications such as spinal infections, nerve damage, seizures and allergic reactions.
Several types of surgical errors may occur that injure patients such as:
Many surgical errors are considered “never events,” or medical mistakes that are so shocking and harmful to patients that they should simply never happen.
Examples of surgical “never events” include performing surgery on the wrong patient or on the wrong site of a patient’s body. Leaving an object inside of a patient such as a surgical instrument or surgical sponge is also an error that should never happen.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can lead to serious and potentially deadly illness such as sepsis. In many cases, patients suffer infections when the negligence of doctors, nurses and hospital staff allows harmful germs and bacteria such as MRSA to spread to patients.
For instance, hospital infections can be caused by the failure to:
Because they are at a high risk of infections, patients must be carefully monitored while hospitalized. Often, a patient’s harm results from the failure of medical professionals to diagnose and treat an infection in a timely manner.
Diagnostic errors are a leading type of emergency room error. This is especially a problem when a patient goes to the ER with a dangerous condition such as a stroke or heart attack. The condition may be misdiagnosed as a less serious condition such as a headache or heartburn. Many ER errors can be traced to overcrowding, understaffing and poor training.
Emergency room malpractice can include:
Radiologists play an important role in the diagnosis of a patient’s condition. They conduct and interpret X-rays and tests such as MRIs and CT scans. As a result, a patient may fail to get timely treatment when radiology errors occur such as:
Radiology errors carry severe consequences such as pregnancy complications, progression of cancer or the worsening of traumatic brain injury.
Dentists, like other medical professionals, have a duty to follow the accepted standard of care when providing services to their patients. When a dentist fails to follow this standard, and a patient is harmed as a result, a patient may have a claim based on negligence.
Examples of dental malpractice include:
Patients who are victims of dental malpractice can suffer harm such as infections, broken teeth, chronic pain or the progression of a disease.
A failure to monitor can lead to the failure to timely and effectively treat a patient’s medical condition. It can occur in situations such as:
The failure to monitor may result in a medical professional missing signs of complications such as breathing or heart problems, allergic reactions, infections, blood clots and internal bleeding.
Before a doctor performs a procedure, prescribes a drug, implants a medical device or undertakes any other course of treatment for you, the doctor has a legal duty to obtain your informed consent.
Informed consent means that the doctor has described the nature and extent of the treatment or described the nature of the drug or medical device. The doctor should also explain the medical reason why a certain drug, medical device or treatment plan is being recommended. Above all, the doctor should make sure that you understand the risks and benefits you face.
If you have suffered harm due to a lack of informed consent, you may be entitled to compensation due to medical malpractice.
A health maintenance organization (HMO) may be liable for the negligence of the doctors, nurses or other medical personnel under its control. However, in many cases, the HMO may be liable for its own negligent or intentional conduct.
HMO misconduct often is related to the HMO’s desire to cut corners and save money. Examples include:
The HMO’s enrollment forms may contain a binding mandatory arbitration clause that purports to take away a patient’s right to bring a lawsuit in court. It is important to have this clause reviewed by an experienced attorney due to the fact that it may be unenforceable.
It is difficult to state with certainty how common the above types of medical malpractice are in Illinois and the rest of the country. This is because many cases of medical negligence go unreported.
However, analysis of medical malpractice payouts reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank by malpractice insurer Diederich Healthcare sheds some light on the scope of the problem.
According to the insurer, in 2014 alone, more than $3.9 billion in medical malpractice payouts were made in the U.S., including $201,849,500 in Illinois.
The majority of those cases involved diagnostic errors (33 percent). Other leading types of reported malpractice involved:
In 30 percent of the cases that resulted in a medical malpractice payout, the patient died from the alleged misconduct, while in 35 percent, the patient suffered “significant” or “major” permanent injury.
If you suspect that you have been harmed or lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you should take the following steps to protect your health and your legal rights:
Under Illinois law, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within a specific period of time, or else it could be barred. This is called the statute of limitations.
In our state, the general rule is that you must file a claim within two years from:
No claim can be filed more than four years after the act or omission that caused the injury.
However, exceptions apply to this rule:
Additionally, the statute of limitations will not start to run if there was fraudulent concealment of the misconduct by the medical professional.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, you should not wait to get legal help. You do not want to lose the right to seek just compensation due to the failure to take timely action.
You must keep in mind that much work must be done to prepare a claim for filing. In particular, Illinois law requires your attorney to have your case reviewed by a qualified medical professional.
The attorney must then file a Certificate of Merit along with the lawsuit. This is a sworn, written statement by your attorney, stating that – based on the medical professional’s review of your case – the attorney believes there is “a reasonable and meritorious cause” for filing the lawsuit.
In some cases, an attorney may get a 90-day extension to obtain the Certificate of Merit if a lawsuit must be filed due to the need to comply with the statute of limitations.
For more than 30 years, the lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. have protected the rights of medical malpractice victims and their families in Chicago, Waukegan and throughout Illinois. Our record of results includes:
Every medical malpractice case is different. Our firm’s past results do not guarantee that the same or a similar outcome will be obtained in your case.
It is important to get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can get to work on pursuing the best possible result for you and providing services that include:
When you are ready to act, contact the attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. We are ready to use our skills, experience and resources to help you to seek the justice you deserve. Schedule a free, confidential consultation today by contacting us by phone or through our online contact form.