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Types of Medical Malpractice

Published on Sep 30, 2022 by Thomas Law Offices.

Like most major cities, Chicago and its suburbs, such as Mokena, Skokie, Orland Park, Naperville, Arlington Heights, Calumet City, and others, are home to many doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and hospitals. While many medical providers at these facilities successfully treat patients’ presenting concerns, poor outcomes occur.

Not every instance in which there’s an unanticipated conclusion to a medical diagnosis or event falls into the category of medical malpractice. However, any situation in which it’s clear that a doctor or other medical provider breached their duty of care may be deemed to be medical malpractice. A deviation from what one in a similar position in the same geographic area with similar training would have done in treating a patient is an example of this.

Let’s explore the different examples of medical malpractice that exist. They include:

Failures To Secure a Patient’s Informed Consent

Illinois doctors must disclose the potential benefits and risks of a patient receiving a certain medical treatment and provide ample time to ask questions. This all forms part of the informed consent process. Patients must sign a consent form acknowledging that their doctor has been over this information before initiating any treatment.

Doctors who don’t adequately inform patients of the pros and cons associated with a procedure and ensure they understand the benefits and downsides of doing so put patients in a disadvantageous position of not knowing whether moving forward is right for them.

If a doctor fails to secure a patient’s informed consent and the patient suffers an adverse consequence, they may have a valid medical malpractice claim they can file against their doctor.

Birth Injuries

Doctors have a responsibility to closely monitor mothers and their growing embryos and fetuses during the prenatal and labor and delivery processes. Doing so can minimize the incidence rate of life-threatening injuries or illnesses for both mother and baby.

Medical providers who fail to adequately monitor pregnant mothers’ vital signs for on onset of chronic medical conditions like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia put developing fetuses at risk of suffering complications during childbirth.

Obstetricians who fail to recommend cesarean sections (C-sections) when babies are breech or macrosomia (which means over 8 pounds, 13 ounces) may cause the fetus’ limbs to become stuck in the mother’s pelvis. This can result in a brachial plexus injury, a deprivation of oxygen, and other life-altering consequences. These are just some of the many birth-related events that may warrant filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Diagnostic Errors

Patients entrust their care to their doctors, assuming that they’ll ask the right questions to reach an accurate and timely diagnosis. That doesn’t always happen.

Doctors may be under time constraints and not ask the right questions, not order the correct tests or imaging studies, misread results, or confuse a patient’s symptoms for another condition with similar symptomology. These factors can result in a patient receiving the wrong or delayed diagnosis.

Treating doctors aren’t the only ones who can contribute to diagnostic errors. Nurses who take down patient medical histories or notes that doctors review before treating a patient might. A radiologist may misread an X-ray, or a pathologist may make a mistake when assessing a biopsied sample.

Delayed or inaccurate diagnoses result in the withholding of a patient’s critical treatment, thus worsening their medical condition or causing their premature, wrongful death. Patients who fall victim to diagnostic errors may opt to pursue compensation to cover their medical bills and ensure such poor handling of others’ cases doesn’t happen again.

Prescription Errors

Nursing staff generally takes down a patient’s medical history, including details about any allergic reactions they’ve suffered when taking prior medications, and relay such information to a treating physician. Doctors are supposed to be familiar with any potential contraindications associated with certain prescription drugs, especially when mixed with others a patient may be taking.

Pharmacists should also inquire about patients’ food or drug sensitivities and advise patients of side effects.

Additionally, nurses (including nursing home staff caregivers) must be cautious to ensure patients receive the correct medication and dosage at the right time.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must also take caution to thoroughly test their medications to ensure they’re safe and to advise doctors on what they treat, and the contraindications associated with them.

Oversight among any of the professionals or companies described above can result in a patient suffering adverse consequences, causing a deterioration in their health or death. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can help an injured or ill patient or their surviving family members recover the compensation necessary to pay for these incident-related injuries or illnesses.

Surgical Errors

There’s no shortage of stories of surgeries gone bad. Some examples of surgical errors may include:

Never events: This includes wrong patient, part, or side of the body surgeries. Improper implantation of implants or prostheses or administration of gas, a patient’s development of an air embolism, and any situation warranting an additional surgery to retain a foreign object post-procedure all also fall under the umbrella of never event, which is a type of preventable surgical error.

Anesthesia errors: This may involve patients receiving too little anesthesia, thus leaving them to feel everything that’s happening, resulting in residual trauma. Alternatively, too much anesthesia may leave patients with breathing troubles, resulting in oxygen deprivation and residual brain damage or unable to easily wake up following their procedure.

Our medical malpractice attorneys have also handled cases in which doctors used unconventional approaches to perform surgical procedures which left a patient with unexpected, preventable injuries or a health decline. A scenario that may fit this bill is if a Chicago surgeon, for example, perforates the eye socket, causing optical nerve damage and residual double-vision or blindness during sinus surgery.

What Should You Do if You Suspect You Were a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

Any medical procedure or instance in which you take medications carries some unavoidable risk. As such, not all cases of adverse outcomes are attributable to medical malpractice.

You must be able to demonstrate the following to prove a medical liability case:

  • A doctor-patient relationship must have existed whereby your medical provider owed you a duty of care.
  • Your physician (or other medical provider or facility) must have breached their duty of care to you by making a preventable omission, mistake, or error.

Even some nursing home abuse or neglect cases may be considered medical malpractice. Instances in which caregivers failed to take care of a resident’s personal hygiene, resulting in a preventable infection or administered an incorrect medication may warrant the filing of a lawsuit in these cases.

Plaintiffs who can show that their provider made choices that diverged from what another practitioner or health care professional would have done under similar circumstances may warrant you filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you’re unsure whether you have a valid Illinois medical malpractice claim, you should reach out to one of our attorneys here at Thomas Law Offices. Our law firm has extensive experience helping Chicago clients like you navigate the legal system to recover maximum compensation for their losses such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs. We can help you do the same. Contact us to schedule a complimentary, risk-free consultation to discuss your case.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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