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Medical Malpractice Claims Reveal Problems at Chicago Public Hospitals

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The John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the University of Illinois Hospital have both been repeatedly sued for malpractice and have paid out more than $160 million to settle claims, demonstrating the pervasive problem of negligence within their systems. The paid-out claims are likely just the tip of the iceberg because many settlements are not reported. The settlements date from just the past five years, further demonstrating the problem’s depth. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer is aware of the extent of the issue and frequently represents clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost loved ones because of medical errors while under hospital care.

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Statistics

Between 2012 and Sept. 2016, the University of Illinois Hospital and Health System has paid more than $83.5 million to settle 33 medical malpractice claims. The Cook County Health and Hospital System paid out $80.5 million to settle 41 malpractice claims during the same time period. The Better Government Association reports that the problem is not one that is limited to public hospitals. Instead, large for-profits and religious-based non-profits also struggle with medical errors, paying out large claims every year. 

In 2014, the BGA reviewed wrongful death cases that were filed against 10 public hospitals across Illinois. It found that the hospitals paid out more than $180 million to the families of the victims. According to the BGA, most of those claims originated from the University of Illinois and Stroger Hospital systems. In an effort to reduce patient deaths and injuries from medical errors, the federal government has reduced Medicare funding to hospitals that have problematic medical malpractice records, including Stroger and the University of Illinois Hospitals in an effort to prompt them to reduce the frequency of medical errors.

A patient safety group that rates hospitals each year named Leapfrog gave Stroger a C and the University of Illinois Hospital a D in its ratings report in Oct. 2016. Just 157 hospitals nationwide received a D in the ratings for patient safety.  The problems at the two public hospitals in Chicago are ongoing. The hospitals report that they are taking steps to reduce their error rates, including trying to stop the mistakes before the errors reach the patients. A medical malpractice lawyer believes that the hospitals must take more aggressive steps to prevent mistakes and to save patients’ lives. 

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