Despite advances in technology and an increased focus on patient safety, medical malpractice continues to happen for various reasons. Healthcare provider burnout, miscommunication, and training and supervisory inefficiencies play a role in the high rate of misdiagnoses, surgical errors, lab errors, medication mistakes, and other types of medical negligence in the United States. When a patient is harmed because of a specific act or omission by a medical professional that deviates from accepted or normal practices within the medical field, the victim can take legal action to receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
Identifying the Causes of Medical Malpractice
Some of the most common reasons victims file malpractice lawsuits with Chicago medical malpractice lawyers include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), misdiagnosis of an illness or disease is a leading cause of death for patients. Research shows over 160,000 hospitalized patients suffer permanent injuries or death each year because of misdiagnosed health conditions. When medical problems are missed or misdiagnosed, essential treatments are often omitted or delayed, allowing a condition to flourish.
When surgical errors happen, patients often suffer medical complications that lead to further surgeries, emergency procedures, permanent disabilities, or death. Surgeons face a high rate of medical malpractice lawsuits for leaving surgical tools and surgical sponges inside of patients. This medical error is usually caused by attending surgeons, nurses, or surgical assistants who fail to count or miscount surgical tools before, during, and after a procedure.
Lab technicians are also to blame for medical errors that significantly impact health conditions. Common lab errors include misreading X-rays, MRI images, and CT scans. They also happen when urine and/or blood samples are collected incorrectly, not tested fast enough, or test results are misinterpreted or not reported to the attending physician. In some cases, the lack of proper technician training is to blame.
Medication errors are another leading cause of patient injury and death. Medication errors include prescribing or administering the wrong dose or prescribing a medication that causes adverse reactions when taken with other medications. Elderly adults and children are especially vulnerable to medication errors because it’s more difficult for their bodies to process an incorrect dose. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers often see medication errors caused by physicians and nurses who don’t properly review patient charts and medical history.
Hospital-acquired infections are common, and they can lead to serious complications. According to the CDC, ICU units, NICU units, and pediatric ICU units have the highest rates of hospital-acquired infections. The most common infections include viral infections, staph infections, and pneumonia, which are easily prevented by doctors, nurses, and caregivers following safety measures such as routine handwashing and sanitizing of patient areas and hospital surfaces. Some bacterial infections can cause serious complications, even death because they are very resistant to antibiotics.
In some hospitals, faulty or outdated equipment is responsible for patient injuries. This problem is usually found in hospitals and surgery centers that are struggling with operating expenses due to budget cuts and staff layoffs. Commonly used equipment that can malfunction or fail includes X-ray machines, heart defibrillators, respiratory equipment, anesthetic machines, and battery-operated tools. Although most hospitals have annual maintenance and service contracts for equipment, delays in service can have tragic consequences for patients.
Lack of Coordinated Patient Care
In busy Illinois hospitals, Chicago medical malpractice lawyers often see injuries caused by a lack of coordinated patient care between attending physicians, nurses, and other medical staff. When medical professionals fail to communicate a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, or follow-up care, the patient can suffer serious injuries caused by improper treatment, delays in treatment, and wrong medications. Reading patient charts is essential to prevent a lack of coordinated care in hospitals.
Understanding Medical Malpractice Laws
In the United States, medical malpractice laws are governed by state laws. In all states, medical professionals including physicians, surgeons, nurses, specialists, and technicians are required to uphold a professional oath that protects patients from harm while under their care. If a patient suffers harm because of medical errors or omissions, the patient has the right to file a lawsuit with a medical malpractice lawyer for negligent actions.
Medical malpractice is a specific type of tort law that deals with professional negligence. “Tort” (meaning wrong) and tort laws provide remedies for civil matters. “Negligence”, the most commonly used standard in tort law, is defined as conduct that falls short of a professional standard within certain professions. This standard is based on the reasonable conduct of another person under similar circumstances.
When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, medical negligence must be proven in court. In some cases, there may be multiple defendants when patients see several doctors or specialists. A medical malpractice lawyer is essential to address complicated issues regarding negligence.