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IL malpractice attorneyIf you recently sought medical advice or treatment and your condition worsened, or if you underwent a surgical procedure and suffered an injury, you may be wondering whether you are eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and how much your claim could be worth. Most issues pertaining to medical malpractice lawsuits, also known as medical negligence claims, are governed by  Illinois statutes. While it can be difficult to say with certainty whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim and how much it could be worth until you speak with an experienced Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyer, the following are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine whether you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and how much compensation you could be entitled to receive.

Was Your Injury the Result of a Healthcare Provider’s Negligence?

The first question you will need to ask yourself when you are trying to determine how much your claim is worth is whether you have a legitimate medical negligence lawsuit. It is extremely important to understand that not all injuries from medical procedures are the result of negligence. To be clear, some types of procedures and surgeries come with inherent risks, and a healthcare provider must make sure that a patient understands and agrees to those risks ahead of time.

However, when a healthcare provider makes a mistake or is otherwise negligent, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. In general, negligence means that your healthcare provider did not provide the same level of care that another provider in the same medical field and geographic region would believe was reasonable.

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersMany people form close, trusting relationships with their primary care doctors. They assume that their doctor is someone that they can depend upon to give them the best medical care possible. Unfortunately, some primary care doctors make mistakes that result in significant harm to their patients. Whether it is failure to accurately diagnose and treat a condition, prescribing the wrong medication, or another medical error, these mistakes can lead to preventable patient injuries and suffering. If you or a loved one have been harmed by the actions of your primary care physician, a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Mistakes Made by Primary Care Physicians

In order to become a physician, doctors must attend many year of post-high school education. Most have also undergone extensive on-the-job training. Nevertheless, doctors are not perfect and they sometimes make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are virtually harmless while others result in permanent patient injury or even death. When a physician’s mistake causes the patient to suffer new or worsened medical concerns, this may be considered medical negligence.

Typically, a doctor is considered negligent when he or she fails to meet the “medical standard of care.” This standard of care refers to the type of care that a reasonably competent physician of similar education and experience would have provided under similar circumstances.

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Winnebago County misdiagnosis lawyersWhen medical symptoms interfere with our ability to go about our lives normally, we go to the doctor to receive a diagnosis and treatment. Although no one expects doctors to instantly know exactly what is wrong, we generally trust that when we receive a diagnosis, it is the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is common. According to one study, a shocking 12 million adults are misdiagnosed every year in the United States. Being misdiagnosed can cause a person to suffer through unneeded or even harmful medical procedures and medication regimens all while missing out on the treatment that is actually needed. If you have received an inaccurate diagnosis from a doctor, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Concerns

It is estimated that one out of every 20 patients who receive a medical diagnosis at a hospital, outpatient clinic, or doctor’s office receives an inaccurate diagnosis. Research shows that about one half of these misdiagnoses have the potential to cause severe harm to the patient. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions include:

  • Cancer including breast cancer, lymphoma, sarcomas and melanoma
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Thyroid disease
  • Depression
  • Celiac Disease

Consequences of a Misdiagnosis

One of the most serious concerns when a patient receives a misdiagnosis is that he or she will be subject to unnecessary medical treatments. Some medical treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, are extremely hard on the body. Certain medications can also have an extremely adverse effect on the body if the person receiving the medication does not actually have the condition the medication is designed to treat. In addition to receiving superfluous treatments, a misdiagnosed person may not receive the treatment he or she actually needs which can cause the condition to worsen. The medical bills associated with these unneeded treatments can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

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Rockford surgical malpractice attorneysGetting surgery is already foreboding enough. The thought that a surgeon or other medical professional could make a dangerous or even deadly mistake during surgery is especially frightening. Unfortunately, surgical mistakes do happen. When a person is injured because a negligent surgeon or other medical staff member makes an avoidable mistake, the injured person may be left with devastating and often painful consequences. Some surgical errors result in the death of the patient. When medical malpractice results in a patients’ death, the surviving family of the deceased person may choose to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the practitioner or facility.

Surgical Mistakes Happen at Alarming Frequency

Studies have shown that outrageous surgical mistakes are made at very disturbingly high rates. One study showed that in an average week in the United States, surgeons:

  • Perform the wrong surgical procedure on a patient 20 times.
  • Leave an object such as a towel, surgical sponge, or medical tool inside of a patient’s body 39 times.
  • Operate on the wrong part of the body 20 times.

On average, over 4,000 preventable errors happen during surgery every year in the U.S. These mistakes result in more than one billion dollars in medical malpractice payouts to the injured patients or families of deceased patients. Other common surgical errors which can be detrimental to a patient’s health include incorrect operating plans or techniques, anesthesia errors, post-surgical infections, and c-section mistakes that lead to birth injuries. A victim of a major surgical error could be left with loss of the use of his or her limbs, brain damage, serious infections, and severe pain and suffering.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyThe birth of a child should be one of the best experiences of a new parent’s life. However, when medical malpractice or negligence is a factor during an infant’s birth, the results can be tragic. Birth injuries can result in years or even a lifetime of expensive and often painful medical procedures and ongoing medical care. If your child was injured during his or her birth due to medical negligence, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

Types of Injuries That Can Occur During Birth

Birth injuries can occur during several different states of the delivery process. Some of the most common birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb's palsy
  • Nerve damage including brachial plexus Injuries (BPI)
  • Perinatal asphyxia (lack of oxygen which can cause permanent neurological damage)
  • Bone fractures
  • Umbilical cord entrapment;
  • Forceps or vacuum injuries
  • Facial paralysis

Damages for Birth Injuries

Through a personal injury suit, the parents of children who have suffered birth injuries may be able to receive compensation for damages caused by the injury. Economic damages most often include medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and caretaking expenses. Noneconomic damages are much more subjective than economic damages and can include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of a normal life, shortened life expectancy, and more.

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhile most doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are competent to provide quality medical care, medical mistakes do happen. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In 2012 alone, over $3 billion dollars was spent in payouts for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Medical errors can affect all types of patients. In fact, the family of acclaimed astronaut Neil Armstrong believes that the 82-year-old’s death was a result of medical negligence. Until recently, this information had been kept secret, but now details about the case are emerging.

Family Says Hospital Caused Armstrong’s Death

Astronaut Neil Armstrong has had an incredible life to say the least. In addition to being the first man to walk on the moon, he also fought in the Korean War, won the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and had three children. Armstrong’s family, however, says that his incredible life came to an end too soon. Armstrong developed coronary disease and required bypass surgery in 2012. He made it through the surgery but then developed complications which eventually caused his death.

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Winnebago County medical malpractice attorneysWhen couples cannot conceive a child traditionally, they often turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Through this process, an egg and sperm are combined in the laboratory and then the resulting embryo is implanted in the woman’s uterus. This option can be a wonderful solution for many couples. However, the IVF process does not always go according to plan. One couple who turned to IVF was recently horrified to learn that a mix up led to their embryo being implanted in another woman and that they were carrying children from another couple. The couple says they plan to sue the fertility clinic who made the grievous medical error.

Embryo’s from Three Couples Were Implanted in the Wrong Women

When a couple chooses to use IVF to have a baby, they are likely to have many concerns. Will the procedure result in a viable embryo? Will the pregnancy go smoothly? Will the child be healthy? Most couples, however, would not even dream that medical negligence could lead to something as outrageous as what several IVF couples are now facing.

The mistake was first discovered after a Korean-American woman gave birth to twins who were not the gender she expected nor were they of Asian descent. In fact, the babies were not even genetically related to one another. The woman had actually given birth to babies belonging to two other couples. The other couples were equally devastated to learn that another woman had carried their children.

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersThe medical advances our society has achieved in the last few decades have allowed people to overcome injuries and illnesses that would have certainly been fatal in the past. Many of these advancements involve invasive surgical procedures. Getting surgery almost always involves certain risks, but some of these risks are avoidable and completely unacceptable. When an avoidable surgical error is made during an operation, the results can be catastrophic. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals can be held legally responsible when these types of medical mistakes result in the death or injury of a patient. 

Understanding When a Medical Professional Has Committed Medical Negligence

Sometimes problems and complications occur during surgery due to no fault of the medical staff conducting the operation. Just because a surgical procedure fails to produce the desired result does not mean medical negligence has occurred. Generally, medical negligence is defined as when substandard medical care leads to some type of harm to the patient.

Some surgical errors are so preventable that they are called “never events” meaning that these particular mistakes should never happen. Never events include mistakes like leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient's body, performing surgery on the wrong body part, and performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient. These types of mistakes often lead to medical malpractice claims. 

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysThe birth of a baby is one of the most joyous occasions a person can experience. Sadly, not every birth is without complication. Some birth injuries are mild, such as a small bruise or cut, while other birth injuries can have life-altering consequences for both the child and his or her parents. Some birth injuries happen due to no one’s fault or intention. Others are caused by medical negligence. When a doctor or other medical staff makes a careless mistake, they can cause permanent disability or death to a vulnerable infant. A medical malpractice lawsuit can help hold negligent medical staff accountable as well as provide compensation for damages.

Doctors Have a Duty of Care to Patients

Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to uphold his or her “duty of care” to his or her patient. Duty of care refers to the responsibility a doctor has to provide reasonably competent medical care to his or her patients. When a medical professional makes a poor decision which most medical professionals in his or her line of work and experience level would not have made, this may be a breach of duty of care. If a tragic event occurred during a birth, but the doctors and nurses made competent decisions while handling the crisis, this is likely not an example of medical negligence.

Common Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence

The most common birth injuries which can be caused by medical negligence include:

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhen a person goes to the hospital to get surgery for an illness or injury, they assume the doctors, nurses, and surgeons taking care of them will do their job with caution and attentiveness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows that over 250,000 individuals die every year in the U.S from medical errors. Other studies suggest that the number of individuals killed by medical mistakes is closer to 440,000. One medical error which occurs startlingly often is the unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) during surgical procedures.

Surgical Items Left Inside Patients Bodies

Alarmingly, it is not unheard of for patients to discover that a surgeon or other medical professional left a piece of medical equipment inside their body. Leaving surgical instruments in a person’s body after invasive procedures can cause serious illness and even death. The type of object left in the person’s body and the length of time it was retained are the main factors that determine the severity of this error.

In some cases, retained objects are discovered immediately after a surgical procedure through an X-ray or during a follow-up. Other times, the foreign objects left in a patient’s body are only identified after the patient seeks medical attention for unexplained pain. The most common objects which are left inside patients include:

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Rockford personal injury attorneysStudies show that more and more Americans are taking psychiatric medications in order to cope with mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Experts estimate that about one out of every six adults in the United States has used at least one psychiatric drug. For some, psychiatric medication like fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), alprazolam (Xanax), Lithium, clozapine (Clozaril) diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan) help alleviate symptoms and cause few, if any, side effects. However, some people taking psychiatric medication experience intense mental and physical side effects including increased thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Now, the family of the late musician Chris Cornell believe that negligent over-prescription of psychiatric medication may have played a role in the singer’s death.

Singer Was Taking Anxiety Medicine and Opioids at Time of Suicide

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell passed away in May of 2017 of an apparent suicide. However, Cornell’s wife believes that the 52-year-old was not in his right mind when he chose to take his own life. She claims that a dangerous mix of anti-anxiety medication and prescription opioids caused him to have increased suicidal and psychotic thoughts, a known side effect of some psychiatric medications. She claims that the negligent actions of her late husband’s doctor are to blame for his death.

According to the lawsuit, Cornell’s doctor negligently prescribed Oxycodone, Lorazepam (Ativan), and other mind-altering drugs to Cornell even though the doctor knew of Cornell’s history with drug addiction. The doctor also allegedly permitted non-physician staff to write Cornell’s prescriptions and neglected to follow up with Cornell regarding negative side effects. Cornell’s widow says that the singer had not displayed suicidal behavior prior to taking his life and had not struggled with addiction for many years. The question of blame will come down to whether or not the doctor and his staff were negligent in prescribing the singer the combination of mind-altering medication.

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Rockford medical malpractice attorneysDoctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are some of the most trusted members of our society. Of course, medical professionals are human just like everyone else, and they sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, errors made by doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and other medical professionals can often have devastating consequences.

Negligence Must Be Proven in Medical Malpractice Claims

Before delving into the most common mistakes made by medical professionals, it is important to be clear about one point: medical malpractice only occurs when negligence occurs. A patient simply being unhappy with the results of a medical procedure or test cannot be reason enough to claim malpractice. Furthermore, a medical procedure or surgery which results in a negative outcome is not always the result of medical malpractice or doctor error. For example, when an individual receives an organ transplant, the organ is sometimes “rejected” by the patient’s body. This can happen for a myriad of reasons and is usually not related to any negligent acts by the surgeon or other hospital staff. In order for a successful medical malpractice claim to be made, negligence must be proven. A medical professional is negligent when he or she acts in a way which is not reasonably competent or skilled, and this carelessness leads to patient harm.

Errors Which Often Lead to Malpractice Suits

There are many different situations which might necessitate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Patients who have been misdiagnosed or did not receive a diagnosis in a timely matter often have the justification to sue. Understandably, it can sometimes take doctors and other medical experts a long time to reach an accurate diagnosis. However, when a diagnosis is delayed or a patient is misdiagnosed due to negligence, the doctor and staff may be held liable. Childbirth injuries including seizure disorders and cerebral palsy can sometimes be caused by doctor error. Negligent prenatal care can result in damage to both the fetus as well as the mother.

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Rockford medical malpractice attorneysWhen something goes wrong at a doctor, physical therapist, dentist, or other medical office, patients can be left lost and confused. After all, most of us grew up putting total trust in doctors and nurses. Their ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions still seem like a superpower to many children. Sadly, as we age, we realize that nobody is perfect and that medical professionals can and sometimes do make catastrophic mistakes. If you have been mistreated or hurt because of inadequate medical care or a negligent health-care provider, read on to learn about your options for financial compensation.

What Constitutes Medical Negligence?

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that, shockingly, medical negligence is the third most leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans. In fact, in the year 2012 alone, more than $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice disbursements. Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional strays from the accepted “standard of care” while treating a patient. The “standard of care” in this context simply refers to what a reasonably thoughtful medical professional of similar experience and training would have done under similar circumstances. Someone who has a poor outcome from a medical procedure has not necessarily experienced medical negligence. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals simply experience bad luck. However, when a patient is treated in a way that deviates from the acceptable treatment of a condition or injury and suffers damages as a result, he or she may have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Examples of Medical Negligence That Could Lead to a Successful Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical negligence can take many different forms. Examples of medical negligence that could possibly lead to a lawsuit include:

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Rockford medical malpractice attorneyWhen you place yourself under the care of a hospital and a team of medical professionals, you expect everyone involved to do their best to meet your needs. Doctors and medical staff members, however, are human, and they sometimes make mistakes. In some cases, medical professionals can be blatantly negligent, and when this happens, the patients who suffer harm as a result may be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries.

The amount compensation a victim of medical malpractice can receive depends on a large number of factors, including the seriousness of the injury and how it will affect the rest of their lives. A recent appeals court ruling in Illinois indicates that if the circumstances of a case change during trial, the verdict can be directly affected.

A Quick Recap

The case in question involved a 42-year-old Illinois woman who sought treatment at a Cook County hospital in 2005 for a soft tissue infection in her neck. Due to swelling in her throat, doctors installed a tracheostomy tube but failed to properly account for the effects of a blood-thinning medication that the woman was already taking. The combination of the medication and the trach tube led to several incidents of bleeding, including a serious event where the patient went into respiratory arrest. Before proper action was taken, the patient suffered serious brain damage and partial paralysis.

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