Around 40 hospitals around Chicago have over 7,600 medical and surgical beds and more than 1,500 ICU beds. About 22,000 physicians practice medicine in Illinois. These physicians must provide patients with care that meets specific standards. For example, they must avoid surgical errors that harm the patient.
If a physician’s surgical error injured you, talking to an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your legal options. Contact Zayed Law Offices to determine whether you can seek compensation for your losses.
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What Is a Surgical Error?
A surgical error is any preventable mistake made during surgery. If the surgical error injures the patient, they can bring a medical malpractice claim against the parties who caused the injury. The patient can claim compensation from the at-fault provider’s medical malpractice insurance for all expenses incurred due to the mistake.
Types of Surgical Errors
Each year, doctors perform more than 48 million surgical procedures in the U.S. The most common surgical procedures alleviate symptoms of heart disease, like cardiac catheterization. Endoscopy of the small intestine is another of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S., as are hysterectomies and Cesarean sections.
All surgeries carry risks, such as interactions with anesthesia, uncontrolled bleeding, and infection. Surgeons should carefully explain these risks to the patient before performing the procedure. This way, the patient can make an informed choice whether to move forward with the surgery. Unfortunately, physicians usually don’t tell their patients about the potential for surgical errors.
Here is a list of some of the most common surgical errors in Chicago hospitals.
- Failure to inform: Doctors must explain surgical risks before obtaining the patient’s consent for the procedure. Suppose a patient would have likely requested a different treatment option and they experience known risks that the physician did not disclose. In that case, there is potential for a medical malpractice claim.
- Leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body: This occurs when the surgical staff mistakenly leaves a tool such as a clamp or a surgical towel in the body cavity during surgery. Foreign objects left in the body during surgery can result in infection, pain, or even damage to internal organs.
- Wrong-site/ wrong patient surgery: These mistakes include a health care provider performing surgery on the incorrect part of the patient’s body or even on the wrong patient. This type of error is relatively rare, only occurring in a hospital every five to 10 years. However, it is a serious enough issue that physicians receive training to avoid it. They may mark the correct area of the body for surgery. Additionally, many hospitals and surgical centers have implemented a “surgical timeout” before each procedure so providers can review essential aspects of the procedure and communicate details to one another before beginning surgery.
- Anesthesia errors: Anesthesiologists sometimes make preventable mistakes when administering anesthesia to patients. Common errors include:
- Administering too much anesthesia, which can result in death;
- Administering too little anesthesia, which can cause the patient to wake up during surgery;
- Delaying the delivery of anesthesia;
- The doctor failing to ask whether the patient is allergic to anesthesia before administering it;
- The provider failing to prevent interactions between anesthesia and medications that the patient is already taking; or,
- Failing to consider the impacts of anesthesia on the patient’s blood pressure or blood supply to the brain
- Unnecessary surgery: According to one survey, over 11 percent of all surgical procedures in the U.S. are unnecessary. Specialists and physicians with at least ten years of post-residency experience were more likely than new doctors to believe that surgeons performed these unneeded procedures for extra profits. Other commonly cited reasons for performing unnecessary surgery included fear of malpractice, patient
- Hospital-acquired infection: Infections are a common and well-known risk of any surgical procedure. However, patients may acquire an infection unrelated to their surgery or health status. These hospital-acquired infections can result in life-threatening conditions, such as sepsis, which causes all the body’s organs to shut down and leads to death.
- Premature discharge: After surgery, physicians and staff should monitor patients for potential complications. In recent years, hospitals have become overcrowded and understaffed. The lack of resources means that staff may not monitor patients as carefully. It can also cause lapses in the cleaning and safe handling of supplies used to treat patients, endangering patients.
- Improper follow-up care: Besides monitoring patients after a surgical procedure, doctors should also provide follow-up care. Follow-up care may include giving home-care instructions, checking the patient’s surgical site to ensure it is healing correctly, and evaluating whether the procedure met its objectives. Failing to provide this vital care leaves the patient open to complications that could go unnoticed and untreated.
What Is a Surgical Error Medical Malpractice Claim?
When doctors commit surgical errors, the injured patient or their family members can seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. In Illinois, victims must file these claims within two years of the error or within two years of when they should have learned about the error. The courts do not usually allow medical malpractice past this time limit. If a physician’s surgical error in a Chicago medical facility injured you, speak to the surgical error lawyers at Zayed Law Offices today. Our experienced legal team can answer your questions about filing a surgical error malpractice claim.
Do All Surgical Error Medical Malpractice Claims Go to Court?
No. Lawyers often resolve surgical error medical malpractice claims out of court by accepting settlement offers. When the at-fault party’s insurance provider offers compensation in a settlement, the parties agree not to go to court. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to help you get a fair settlement offer and can help you determine whether the offer is reasonable. Your attorney can also make a counter-offer on your behalf.
If the Claim Goes to Court:
If your surgical error malpractice claim goes to court, having an experienced lawyer on your side will help the process go smoothly. Many types of documents, affidavits, and notices have to be filed for the court to hear your claim. If you misfile a document or miss a deadline, it can endanger your whole claim. Having an attorney will help you ensure that someone knowledgeable about the court process takes care of your case.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek Through a Surgical Error Claim
Illinois allows surgical error claimants to obtain compensation for the expenses related to the surgical error, including:
- All medical expenses related to the repair and treatment of the error;
- Lost wages due to the injury preventing the claimant from working;
- Loss of future earning capacity if the injury results in permanent disabilities, or if the claimant no longer has the same earning power as before the surgical error;
- Physical pain and suffering from the error; and,
- Emotional distress.
Many states limit awards for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or emotional distress. However, this is not the case in Illinois. In 2010, Illinois’ Supreme Court ruled that capping non-economic damages was unconstitutional. Therefore, claimants in Illinois can seek the total amount of compensation available for their surgical error injury.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Experience and knowledge are crucial to a surgical error claim’s success. These cases are not easy to investigate or prove, often requiring extensive documentation from the health care institution where the surgical error occurred.
To make the situation even more complex, the corporate attorneys who work for medical malpractice insurers use many tactics to reduce or eliminate claims. Hiring an experienced surgical error lawyer will make the process less stressful and help you avoid these tactics.
Insurance providers sometimes offer a low settlement under the guise that it is the most compensation available for the claim. The claimant, often injured and worried about finances, is made to feel like they need to make a quick decision, so they accept the offer.
Unfortunately, an offer made early after an injury often fails to account for all of the victim’s injuries. If the claimant decides to accept this low settlement without understanding the value of their claim, they may never pay for their future expenses.
Talk to a Lawyer About the Surgical Error That Caused Your Injury
To obtain legal guidance about the error that caused your injury and the process of seeking compensation, reach out to the legal team at Zayed Law Offices. Our Chicago surgical error lawyers can evaluate your case for free. Contact us online or by calling (312) 726-1616.
Medical malpractice is a term used to describe conduct that deviates from the applicable standard of care. A standard of care is a generally a minimum level of care that should be exercised by a health care provider. A standard of care requires healthcare providers to exercise the same degree of knowledge or care that a reasonably careful healthcare provider would use. Violations of a standard of care occur when a healthcare provider does something that a reasonably careful provider would not do or when a provider fails to do something that a reasonably careful provider would not do.
Once the doctor-patient relationship has been established, the healthcare provider must adhere to the applicable standard of care. A patient bringing a medical malpractice claim must show that the healthcare provider breached the applicable standard of care, that the breach caused injury, and that the breach caused the patient’s injuries.
Prosecuting a claim for medical malpractice can be time consuming, complicated, and costly. Contacting an attorney who has a proven track record of excellence is an essential part of bringing a successful medical malpractice claim.
Very often doctors undertake risky procedures without any guarantee of success, and a bad result alone is not evidence of medical malpractice. One of the most solid grounds for suspicion of medical malpractice is when the results of a procedure are widely unexpected. It is important to look into any suspicions of medical malpractice, and this is best done by contacting an experienced medical malpractice law firm. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will review the records of healthcare professionals and may order additional tests and exams.
In the event of medical malpractice, health care providers can be held responsible as well as the institutions they are affiliated with. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to identify ALL parties who are responsible.
Two years is the general time limit for filing suit for injury or death in Illinois. However, there are many nuances that apply to medical malpractice statutes of limitation. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is from one to seven years depending on the facts of the case. It is best to contact a personal injury attorney in order to consult with an attorney who will guide your case through the gauntlet of applicable statutes of limitations.
One of the most important things to do in the event of a suspected medical malpractice is to avoid outright accusations toward your healthcare provider. Make sure that you request your medical records and then consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review the records and provide guidance on your potential cause of action.
Signing a consent form means you have acknowledged that there are known risks associated with your medical treatment. A signed consent form does not mean that you have consented to medical treatment below the applicable standard of care owed by all healthcare providers to their patients.
Amounts recovered from medical malpractice lawsuits are generally not taxable.
All patients have a legal right to obtain a copy of their medical records. These requests should be made in writing and must include details like the patient’s social security number, address, date of birth, etc. Requesting medical records can be very timely and may require payment of fees to the records department providing the records.