Medical malpractice cases involve patient injuries caused by the negligence or improper actions of hospitals, clinics, and medical professionals. Examples of medical malpractice often include actions related to a patient’s diagnosis, medications, anesthesia and surgery, and follow-up procedures.

What Is Considered Medical Malpractice in Illinois?

Illinois laws regarding medical malpractice address patient injuries caused by negligent or improper actions of medical providers such as hospitals, clinics, out-patient surgical centers, physicians and surgeons, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, emergency medical technicians, and other medical professionals who provide patient care.

When medical malpractice occurs, Illinois laws allow victims to file legal action against the guilty party or parties to recover compensation for damages. Legal action may be brought by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in an Illinois civil court with a medical malpractice lawyer handling the claim.

When filing a civil lawsuit, legal action must be filed within the state where the medical malpractice occurs. If the lawsuit is successful, the injured patient can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Common examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of a medical condition
  • Improper medical care and treatment
  • Anesthesia and surgical errors
  • Medication and prescription errors
  • Defective medical equipment
  • Failure to follow up with patients

In Illinois, if a patient dies from medical malpractice, laws permit the patient’s family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit on the patient’s behalf.

Economic Damages – Economic damages are awarded for medical expenses such as hospital and emergency room visits, doctor visits, lab tests, and prescription medications, as well as damages for loss of income and loss of earning capacity.

Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages are awarded for intangible damages that can’t be assigned a monetary value. These damages include current and future emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.

For a successful case, a patient must show that the physician owed a duty of care, that the physician breached that duty (acted below the standard of care), and that the patient suffered an injury as a result of the breach of duty.

What Are the Most Common Signs of Medical Malpractice?

According to medical statistics in the U.S., over 12 million patients suffer illness or injury caused by medical malpractice every year. Unfortunately, that number is thought to be higher due to patients who don’t suspect their illness or injury is caused by improper medical actions or procedures. Therefore, medical malpractice is often unreported.

If you’re a patient suffering from healthcare complications following a medical treatment or surgical procedure, you should be aware of some common signs and examples of medical malpractice. Although your pain and complications may seem normal, they may be caused by medical malpractice. Common signs to look for include:

Your Treatment Isn’t Working

If your medical treatment is not improving your condition, you may have received a wrong diagnosis, or you may have been prescribed the wrong medications or dosages.

Your Treatment Doesn’t Fit Your Condition

If you’re diagnosed with a minor condition, beware if your doctor recommends extensive or invasive testing or surgical procedures that seem extreme for your diagnosis.

Your Condition Doesn’t Match Diagnostic Procedures

If you’re diagnosed with a serious condition, your diagnosis should include a medical exam, a urine sample, a blood test, and x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI’s. An accurate diagnosis requires proper procedures.

Your Doctor Doesn’t Return Your Calls

If your doctor is difficult to reach, never returns your calls, or seems indifferent to your health concerns, he or she may be aware of problems linked to a misdiagnosis or medical treatment plan.

Your Doctor’s Office Is Understaffed

If your doctor’s office seems understaffed, it may signal negligent behaviors that put patients at risk. Staff errors and insufficient patient care are often linked to medical malpractice claims.

You Got a Different Second Opinion

If you have suspicions about your medical diagnosis or treatments, get a second opinion from another doctor. If the second opinion differs from your original diagnosis and treatment, it may be a sign of medical malpractice.

Examples of Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases can arise out of a variety of circumstances. Common examples include:

Surgical Errors

Surgeries performed on the wrong patient or the wrong body part, or botched in some other way, are referred to as “never events” within the medical field. Surgical never events include leaving scissors, sponges, or scalpels inside of patients. These injuries result in internal bleeding or lacerations, punctured organs, and severe infections or sepsis, which can lead to additional complications or death.

Misdiagnosis/Delayed Diagnosis

Medical malpractice often results from a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis of a patient’s condition. A proper diagnosis requires testing like blood tests, urine samples, and lab tests like x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs. A medical diagnosis should be established early on without delays to get an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition and provide a comprehensive treatment plan.

Medication Errors

When an illness or injury occurs, prescription medications are commonly given to patients to help with faster healing and reduced pain. The correct medication and dosage are essential for a patient’s recovery and to prevent worsening health complications. Unfortunately, medical statistics show that medication errors are one of the most common examples of medical malpractice experienced by patients.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries are also common examples of medical malpractice. The 5 most frequent types of birth injuries include:

  • Brachial Plexus (Erb’s Palsy) – A condition that affects a baby’s nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the hands, arms, and shoulders. It typically happens during delivery when the baby is in a breached position, the baby’s nerves are stretched, the baby has a high birth weight, or the mother has a prolonged labor.
  • Cerebral Palsy (CP) – A condition that impairs a baby’s movements, muscle tone, and posture. It is caused by damage that occurs to the developing brain, often as the result of a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during childbirth. CP causes a lack of muscle tone, problems with coordination and balance, and stiff muscles.
  • Facial Paralysis – A condition caused by injury to a baby’s facial nerves, usually from the use of forceps during delivery that put pressure on the baby’s face. Injuries often include facial bruising, inability to close the eyes, and torn nerves which may require surgery to repair. When the baby cries, the side of the face that’s injured will not move.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) – A condition that causes brain damage due to limited blood flow and oxygen deprivation during childbirth. Many babies with HIE develop permanent disorders including cerebral palsy, cognitive disabilities, epilepsy, and permanent brain damage.
  • Shoulder Dystocia – A condition often seen in full-term or post-term pregnancy when the baby is too big to go safely through the birth canal. The attending OBGYN should recognize this and perform a C-section. If natural delivery is attempted or forceps are used, parents should know the grounds for medical malpractice caused by shoulder dystocia injury.

Can Lack of Proper Follow-Up or Aftercare Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Doctors take an oath to protect their patients from harm while patients are under the doctor’s care. Lack of proper follow-up or aftercare for patients can result in a variety of serious health complications that can lead to delayed healing and recovery, serious infections, and even the death of the patient.

When Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Medical malpractice cases are often complicated and lengthy because they require proof that medical malpractice caused the patient’s illness, injury, or death. The burden of proof lies with the injured patient or the patient’s family members, in the case of death. It’s important to know how to find a medical malpractice attorney who knows the types of medical negligence and can provide proof of medical malpractice in an Illinois civil lawsuit.

The court requires proof of documented evidence that supports your medical malpractice claim. An attorney can help you win your lawsuit by providing proper evidence that shows negligence or wrongful actions on the part of the hospital or medical professional who is responsible for your injuries. The court requires evidence that links the hospital’s actions or your doctor’s actions directly to the cause of your injuries. A medical malpractice attorney has the knowledge and experience to find valuable information and prior evidence of medical malpractice complaints and lawsuits filed by former patients.