Most people don’t know what constitutes medical negligence until they have been harmed by it or someone they love has been hurt. When a medical professional makes an error that leads to injury or death, the victim and their family may be left with expensive bills, physical limitations, emotional trauma, and other problems.
Victims need a Joliet personal injury lawyer because it takes time, resources, and experience to handle these cases in court while also handling insurance companies who want to pay as little as possible for damages.
If you’re not sure if your injury was caused by an act of medical negligence, contact a Joliet medical malpractice lawyer for help evaluating your case. Call (800) 985-1819 now.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care. This includes:
- Misdiagnosis / late diagnosis
- Administration of incorrect medications
- Lack of informed consent
- Long-term malpractice errors
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Unneeded surgery
- Labor and delivery errors
- General medical negligence
In addition to a doctor or nurse at a hospital or clinic, other healthcare professionals can be held accountable for negligence if they fail in their duty to provide reasonable care. For example, staff at a clinic can be held responsible for neglecting to provide adequate care if they don’t redress wounds in a timely manner.
The best way to determine if medical malpractice was committed is to consult with an experienced lawyer who has handled these cases before. Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates helps people recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other damages.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
When a medical professional fails to act within the standard of care, an infant or child can be seriously injured during birth. The most common type of birth injury claims arise when newborns suffer from insufficient oxygen supply at birth, also known as hypoxia, which can result in brain damage.
Other birth injuries include:
- Nerve damage to the shoulder, arm, or hand during delivery
- Fractures of the clavicle
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Erb’s palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Long-term nerve damage
- Injuries to the shoulder blade or spine
- and more.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions that affect movement and coordination. CP can be caused by medical malpractice during birth when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen. Other causes of cerebral palsy include traumatic brain injury, infections, and seizures.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person, but can include:
- Difficulty walking
- Involuntary movements
- Problems with vision or hearing
There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment can help improve the quality of life for those who have it.
Erb’s palsy is a type of paralysis caused by damage to the brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves located between the neck and shoulder. This injury can occur as a result of medical negligence during birth if the doctor mishandles the baby’s head or neck.
The most common symptom associated with Erb’s palsy is paralysis in the arm, which can impair hand function and range of motion.
Brachial Plexus Injury
A brachial plexus injury is damage to the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. This type of birth injury can be caused by applying excessive traction during delivery or mishandling an infant’s neck, among other things.
The symptoms associated with this condition vary in severity and can include paralysis in the shoulder, arm, and hand, decreased sensation or loss of function in the hand and fingers, and muscle weakness.
Careless & Negligent Errors
Careless and negligent errors are the most common type of medical malpractice. These errors occur when a doctor or nurse fails to act with reasonable care, which leads to injury or death for their patient.
Some examples include:
- Failing to properly monitor vital signs
- Making incorrect diagnoses that lead to delayed treatment
- Operating on the wrong area of the body
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Failing to warn a patient of a known risk
General anesthesia is a type of substance that causes loss of consciousness, resulting in an inability to feel pain. Anesthesia errors are a common medical malpractice claim because there are many opportunities for failure.
Some examples include
- Failing to monitor blood pressure
- Not taking proper precautions when using a breathing tube
- Causing serious injury during surgery
- Delaying CPR when cardiac arrest occurs
- Administering the wrong dosage of medication
In regional anesthesia, a doctor or nurse uses a method to block pain signals from traveling through the nerves, which can be done through an injection directly into the spine.
Some examples of medical malpractice claims resulting from regional anesthesia include:
- Administering too much medication
- Placing the needle in the wrong area
- Damaging surrounding tissue
- Using the wrong type of injection, such as a spinal block rather than an epidural.
Local anesthesia is the injection of medication into or near a specific part of the body with the intention to numb that area. Common types of local anesthesia include lidocaine, bupivacaine, and Novocain.
Errors in this type of medical malpractice claim can include accidentally injecting at the wrong site or using too much medication. This can lead to serious injury or even death for the patient.
Emergency Room Errors
Emergency rooms are designed to treat patients with urgent medical needs. However, these facilities are often overcrowded and understaffed, increasing the risk of mistakes.
Some examples of emergency room errors include
- Failing to diagnose infections or illnesses
- Giving incorrect medication
- Delaying treatment
- Using unsterile equipment
- Allowing others to perform tasks that can cause infection
- Accidentally administering the wrong dosage.
All of these mistakes can have serious consequences for patients. For example, a failure to diagnose an infection can lead to the infection becoming more serious and even life-threatening.
Hospitals are one of the most common places for medical malpractice claims to occur. Common examples include:
- Failing to properly monitor patient vitals
- Allowing others to make mistakes with medication or care
- Delaying treatment, performing procedures incorrectly
- Failing to take proper precautions
Cases involving hospital errors often arise from overcrowding and lack of resources. For example, a nurse may fail to properly monitor patient vitals because they are busy caring for too many patients. Similarly, hospital staff members may make mistakes regarding medication or care due to their large workloads.
And despite efforts to prevent errors, some hospitals are ill-equipped to handle medical emergencies.
Medical Device Errors
Another common source of medical malpractice claims is the use of defective or faulty medical equipment.
This can result in inaccurate readings, such as a
- Failure to read an electrocardiogram
- Improper administration of medication
- Injury from the use of defective tools, such as a surgical knife with a dull blade
Faulty equipment can create serious consequences for patients, especially if it results in delays or mistakes during treatment.
Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis, or failure to properly diagnose a patient’s condition, is a common type of medical malpractice. This can lead to the patient receiving treatment for a condition that they do not have or failing to treat a condition that does exist. Delayed diagnosis can also have similar consequences, such as worsening an illness or condition or leading to the spread of infection.
One of the most common areas for medical malpractice claims is surgery. Negligence can occur during any stage of treatment, and even before the surgery itself.
Common surgical errors include:
- Failing to properly evaluate the patient prior to surgery
- Performing the procedure incorrectly
- Failing to monitor the patient’s condition after surgery
- Ignoring signs that a patient has a postoperative infection
Ignoring the signs of a postoperative infection can result in additional medical problems, severe illness, or even death.
How is medical malpractice proven?
To win a medical malpractice claim, the patient must prove that they were injured as a result of negligence or improper care by the medical institution or provider. This requires showing that the doctor’s or facility’s treatment fell below the appropriate standard of care and directly caused injury to their patient.
They can show this using expert witness testimony, which provides an opinion about what happened based on the doctor’s medical records.
To determine what constitutes the appropriate standard of care, a medical malpractice lawyer in Joliet will consider relevant case law and other areas.
In addition to proving that injury occurred as a result of insufficient care, the patient must also show that they have been injured. In many cases, this requires providing documentation from a doctor showing that their condition has worsened. Medical records are often the most useful evidence in these cases.
What medical malpractice damages can be rewarded?
The types of damages that can be rewarded in a medical malpractice case vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Firstly, you can file for economic damages. These are the costs that are associated with your injury, including medical bills and lost wages. This includes treatments already paid for before the medical negligence was identified.
Secondly, you can receive compensation for non-economic damages. Pain and suffering is a wide term that includes anything that has changed in your life due to the injury that doesn’t have a bill attached to it. This includes the actual pain you’ve experienced, changes in your life that are permanent, and any emotional or mental anguish experienced.
Finally, in some cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages in a medical malpractice case. Punitive damages are awarded in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is especially egregious. This can occur when their negligence was intentional or showed reckless disregard for the safety of others. For example, a neurosurgeon that operated while drunk.
Contact a Joliet medical malpractice lawyer today to explore your options for compensation for your suffering and injury. Call (800) 985-1819 today.
Can I afford a medical malpractice attorney?
Yes! Everyone can afford a medical malpractice attorney at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates because our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t owe us anything until we win your case. Our fee comes out of what we’ve won for you.
We take cases on a contingency basis to remove financial barriers so that everyone can have the chance to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after medical malpractice?
In Illinois, the statute of limitation is two years from the date of discovery. This is a bit different from some other personal injury statutes of limitation, as a medical injury may not be discovered for some time after the fact.
The date of discovery means the date that you realized your injury existed and that it was wrongfully caused. Contact a lawyer as soon as you realize that something isn’t, or wasn’t, right.
Contact a Joliet Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Today
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or lost their life as a result of medical malpractice, it is important that you contact an experienced Joliet medical malpractice attorney at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. The attorneys at our law firm are dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice receive the fair compensation they deserve for their injuries.
Call us at (800) 985-1819 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Joliet, IL medical malpractice lawyers.
Medical Malpractice Questions and Answers
Why do I need a medical malpractice lawyer?
Medical malpractice claims are difficult to prove. You could be facing an experienced defense team that is trying to deny or limit your compensation, so it is important that you have equally capable representation on your side. Our medical malpractice lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates know how to build strong cases based on evidence and testimony. We will work hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Should I let my insurance cover a medical malpractice injury?
If you have health insurance, you may consider using it to cover the costs of your injury. However, this is not in your best interest. Your health insurance will likely only cover a portion of your injury and will not cover your noneconomic damages. You will also be at risk of increasing your premiums when you file a claim against your own insurance.
The best way to handle this is to file a claim against your insurance temporarily, then to recoup those expenses with a medical malpractice case. Then you can pay your insurance company back as part of your settlement. It is always best to consult with a Joliet medical malpractice lawyer before you accept any settlement from an insurance company.
Should I involve the police in my medical malpractice claim?
The police are not always needed for medical malpractice claims. However, if your doctor’s negligence resulted in you being a victim of crime, there are certain procedures that must be followed.
This is because the doctor-patient privilege only applies to medical information, not to any crimes committed against you by the doctor or his/her staff. If an on-duty police officer responds to the scene of your filing a claim, you will also need to file an official report. These reports are necessary for you to recover damages through the civil court system.
What is the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence?
Medical malpractice and medical negligence are similar but not the same. Negligence simply means that a professional failed to use reasonable care in performing his or her duties. A doctor’s actions meet the definition of negligence if they were not what a “reasonable and prudent” professional would have done under the same circumstances.
The determination of whether a doctor has committed malpractice is more complex. This is because it involves making distinctions between what might be considered standard protocol, and the steps that a reasonably prudent professional would have taken in light of all the circumstances.
Medical malpractice requires proof that a doctor or other health care provider breached the duty to his or her patient. The standard of care you must prove is what another reasonable, prudent medical professional would have done in similar circumstances.
Who can be held liable for my medical malpractice injury?
All doctors, nurses, and other health care providers can be held liable for medical malpractice. Hospitals will also be held legally responsible if they failed to provide a safe environment or use reasonable care in handling your case.
If your injury was the result of an adverse reaction to prescription medication, either the prescribing physician or pharmaceutical company can be held liable.