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Rockford surgical malpractice attorneysWhether it is an appendectomy, bypass surgery, cesarean section, carotid endarterectomy, or another surgical procedure, going in for surgery can be a scary experience. While most surgeries are successful and do not involve unexpected complications, not every surgery goes according to plan. Sometimes surgical procedures result in a patient’s injury or death, and there is nothing that the surgeons could have done to prevent it. Other times, it is the surgeon’s carelessness that is directly responsible for the negative outcome. One especially alarming example of medical negligence during surgery occurs when a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside the patient’s body.

Foreign Objects Left Behind During Surgery

Surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff involved in surgical procedures must complete years of rigorous classes and training before being permitted to perform surgery. Unfortunately, these medical professionals may still make mistakes that endanger the lives of their patients. Equipment such as scalpels, scissors, forceps, clamps, and sponges, are often used during surgical procedures. Surgeons and nurses are expected to keep track of these objects and ensure that no object is still inside the patient’s body when the surgery is complete. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and miscommunications can lead to equipment being forgotten. It is estimated that surgical equipment and other objects are left inside of patients’ bodies an average of 4,500–6,000 times each year in the United States.

Consequences of Major Surgical Mistakes Are Often Catastrophic

The problem of retained foreign objects is one that is entirely preventable. Medical staff should be fully aware of the number and types of equipment used during surgery and should account for these objects before closing the patient’s incision and completing the surgery. Leaving a foreign object inside of a person’s body can cause them to suffer extreme and unnecessary pain. It can also lead to life-threatening infections, punctures and perforations of tissues and internal organs, reduced blood flow, and even death. If he or she survives, a patient may require additional surgeries and other medical treatment to mitigate the damage caused by the careless error. 

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersWhether it is a minor surgical procedure or a major operation, going “under the knife” can be a frightening prospect. Most surgeries performed in the United States are completed without mistakes or complications, but this is not always the case. In fact, Medical errors are so common that they are considered to be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. today. Preventable mistakes during surgery make up a large portion of these errors. It is estimated that over 4,000 surgical mistakes occur every year and that these mistakes result in more than $1.3 billion in medical malpractice payouts. If you or a loved one have suffered due to a surgical error, you may be entitled to compensation.

Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?

Surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals often have extremely busy, stressful days. Few would dispute that working in the healthcare industry is one of the most challenging jobs there is. Sometimes, however, the stress and long hours can create serious problems, as some surgical mistakes are a result of oversight caused by fatigue. Others are due to lack of proper education or training, inadequate preoperative planning, or poor communication between medical staff. In rare cases, a surgical mistake may even be the result of a healthcare worker’s drug or alcohol use. Whatever the reason, medical workers who make negligent mistakes during surgery should be held responsible for their actions.

Common Mistakes During Surgery

It is estimated that every week in the U.S, there are 39 instances of medical staff leaving objects such as sponges and medical instruments inside of a patients’ bodies. Approximately 20 times a week, surgeons perform surgery on the wrong body part. Other surgical errors that are disturbingly common include anesthesia errors, prescription medication errors, inadequate sterilization, use of defective surgical equipment, and the use of incorrect surgical techniques. Doctors and surgeons have a legal duty to provide medical care that is reasonably competent, and mistakes like these are generally inexcusable. When a medical professional breaches this duty, the medical facility or the professional himself  may be found liable for the damages that result.

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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 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 medical malpractice lawyersWhen most of us visit a doctor or other medical professional to address a health concern, we trust that he or she knows what they are doing and will be able to help. Understandably, doctors do not always immediately know what aliment is causing their patient to suffer. However, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals have a duty to treat patients to the best of their ability. When a negligent medical professional misdiagnoses a patient and the resultant medical treatment (or lack of treatment) causes the patient harm, a medical malpractice suit may be appropriate.

Diagnostic Errors Are One of the Most Common Causes for Medical Malpractice Claims

The law does not expect doctors to be perfect. Many times, a patient suffers from a complex array of conditions which may be challenging to identify and treat. Doctors and other medical professionals are not held legally responsible for every diagnostic error they make. However, when carelessness or negligence causes a patient harm, doctors should be held accountable. A successful medical malpractice suit includes the following elements:

  • An established doctor-patient relationship;
  • The doctor or other health care worker was negligent; and
  • The negligent party’s actions caused actual injury to the patient.

Understanding When a Doctor is Negligent

Negligence can be tricky to understand in the context of a medical malpractice suit. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself may be a mistake on the part of the health worker, but not necessarily evidence of negligence. Generally, a medical professional is negligent when he or she not provide treatment in a reasonably skilled and competent way. When deciding if a medical professional was negligent or not, courts may invite other similarly trained or experienced professionals to weigh in on the matters. If most medical professionals of similar expertise would have made a different decision than the medical professional accused of malpractice made, it is likely he or she will be considered negligent.

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Winnebago County medical malpractice attorneysAnyone who has spent time in a hospital can tell you the relief they felt when they were discharged and allowed to go home. Even those staying in a hospital for a short time can start to feel homesickness and grow intolerable of the bustle and noise of a busy hospital. Although they can be uncomfortable, hospital stays are often a requirement for patients requiring round-the-clock care for more serious illnesses and injuries.

To most patients, the news that they get to leave the confines of a hospital bed and return home is met with happiness. After all, if they are allowed to go home, their condition must have improved dramatically. Patients assume that the doctors and nurses on staff at the hospital would never discharge someone who was not well enough to go home. The tragic reality is that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals do make mistakes and sometimes patients who are not ready to leave the hospital are discharged anyway.

Questionable Early Hospital Discharges Put Lives in Danger

Even hospitals which are not-for-profit must rely on income generated through medical services. Hospitals must constantly find ways to save on costs. Many experts believe that cost-cutting efforts and other factors have caused an increase in patients being discharged from the hospital too soon. Sometimes, patients who are simply staying in the hospital to be observed are discharged quickly in order to create space for patients who need more intensive care or many diagnostic tests. Early hospital discharge can lead to worsened medical conditions and unnecessary pain and suffering. Early discharges that result in injuries to the patient can often open the door to medical malpractice claims.

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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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