Have You or a Loved One Suffered a Medical Malpractice Injury?
Many people have heard of medical malpractice, and usually associate it with very extreme errors in medical treatment—for example, performing an invasive surgical operation on the wrong patient. However, medical malpractice occurs in many less drastic forms, although the results can be just as damaging, or even fatal.
In 2010, HealthGrades, a healthcare quality company, released a study based upon 37 million medical records for the years 2000 through 2002 and determined—shockingly—that up to 195,000 deaths every year are attributable to errors in medical treatment at U.S. hospitals. And these are just the fatalities—not the many other lesser injuries that can severely impair an individual’s health, enjoyment of life, and longevity. And while these numbers cannot be verified absolutely, a 2010 report from the Department of Health and Human Services similarly concluded that, for patients utilizing Medicare, up to 180,000 deaths per year were at least partially attributable to errors in medical treatment.
While not every medical error is entirely preventable—for example, a patient may experience an unanticipated and unknown allergic reaction to an anesthetic or other medication—many of them are. In fact, a study published in 2000 from the Institute for Medicine, a non-profit body that operates under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that at least 44,000 deaths, and perhaps as many as 98,000 deaths, are attributable every year to preventable medical errors. If these estimates are accurate, preventable medical errors would be within the top ten leading causes of death in the United States—and perhaps as high as the third leading cause of death.
What Types of Claims Constitute Medical Malpractice?
Preventable medical care errors can constitute a solid case for medical malpractice. These cases may result not just from a surgical error, but from errors committed by nurses, doctors, and other care-givers. Many of the most common medical malpractice claims stem from the following types of errors:
- Medication error: This can take the form of using the wrong medication (from a doctor’s prescription, from an error committed by a pharmacist, or by being administered to the wrong patient); being prescribed a medication that causes serious adverse effects due to a known allergic reaction or by being combined with other medications; being prescribed the wrong dose; or a failing to prescribe a needed medication.
- Diagnosis failures: This is defined as instances where a doctor failed to correctly diagnose a problem, causing delayed treatment (and thereby causing an injury that could have been prevented or minimized); failing to perform necessary or adequate diagnostic tests or procedures; or misdiagnosing a problem.
- Negligent supervision: This occurs where a patient under the care of a hospital is not monitored sufficiently, leading to failures to provide adequate and/or appropriate care.
- Delayed treatment: This occurs where a delay in treating a known condition leads to a more serious condition.
- Failure to obtain informed consent: As it suggests, this involves injuries resulting from procedures in which the care provider failed to fully inform a patient of the likely or potential outcome of the procedure, the risks associated with it, or, in rare cases, failed to obtain any consent at all.
- Lack of sufficient training or skill or proper credentialing: This claim arises when a patient suffers an injury from a medical procedure, then discovers that the medical provider offering the service should not have been permitted to render the procedure due to a lack of training or experience.
- Birth injuries and obstetric malpractice: This involves cases in which measures taken during delivery caused permanent injury to the child or to the mother.
- Surgical errors: These cases involves injuries caused by a surgeon who took unnecessary measures which caused injury, or failed to perform the procedure with the care or skill sufficient to meet accepted standards.
- Subsequent fractures, infections, or injuries, including intentional injuries: These cases involve injuries that occur while patients are under a doctor’s or hospital’s care. These may include injuries ranging from contracting infections while in a hospital to being assaulted by a caregiver or by another patient.
- Equipment failure: Many medical procedures rely upon the proper functioning of medical equipment. Failures of equipment due to inadequate maintenance, calibration, or operation can lead to serious injuries that otherwise would not have occurred had the equipment functioned properly.
- Inadequate monitoring or follow-up treatment: Many potential complications or adverse effects from a treatment or procedure—even if performed correctly—may not show up until later. A claim for inadequate monitoring arises when medical professionals fail to take the steps necessary to ensure that known potential adverse effects or consequences are sufficiently monitored.
- Lack of teamwork or communication: Frequently, patients are seen by many care providers—their regular physicians, specialists, nurse practitioners, and so on. Even in the operating room, teams of surgeons and nurses are all responsible for defined spheres of patient care, and a key piece of information that is not communicated between the various individuals in the course of care can cause serious injuries to develop, whether it is the doctor who fails to note a medication allergy to a nurse who does not report a patient in distress.
Making a Case for Medical Malpractice
As detailed above, medical malpractice can take many forms. At the same time, medical malpractice constitutes a specific type of negligence claim. In medical malpractice suits, a claimant alleges that a healthcare provider—which can include not only doctors and surgeons, but dentists, therapists, nurses, or individuals working under the supervision of these professionals—either acted or failed to act in a way that fell below the accepted standard of practice or care in the applicable medical community. Further, this act or omission led to the injury or death of the patient. However, even when someone has suffered a serious injury as a result of a medical procedure that did not go as planned, proving that you have a valid malpractice claim is not an easy task.
Most medical malpractice lawsuits—over 95%—are resolved before they go to trial. In some of these cases, the parties settle—usually, when the doctor or hospital believes that the case for negligence is relatively clear. But in over half of the cases filed, the defendants succeed in having cases dismissed for one reason or another. One of the more difficult hurdles for plaintiffs to prove or support their cases is that nearly all of the proof lies in the hands and minds of the doctors and hospitals who are defending the cases. For those medical malpractice cases that do go to trial, plaintiffs win only about one-third of the time.
If You Believe You Have a Valid Claim for Medical Malpractice, Call Abels & Annes, P.C.Because medical malpractice cases are often difficult, if you want to prevail in your claim, it is vitally important to work with attorneys who have the experience and qualifications necessary to win. The Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., have decades of combined experience in handling a variety of personal injury lawsuits, and they can assist you with your medical malpractice claim.
If you have been injured by inadequate or faulty care, or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed due to the incompetence or malfeasance of a medical professional, contact Abels & Annes, P.C., for a free consultation. Call our toll free number (855) LAW-CHICAGO (855-529-2442), call us locally at (312) 924-7575, or simply use our online case evaluation form right here on this website. Remember, at Abels & Annes, P.C., you pay no fee unless money is recovered on your behalf.