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Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Blog

When medical mistake occurs don't expect an apology

Medical Mistake.JPGNo one likes admitting they made a mistake.  It is no fun owning up to where you fell short.  In the world of medicine this is amplified.  A recent study published in The Journal of Patient Safety found that it is the exception, not the rule that Patients who are victims of a medical mistake or injury rarely get an acknowledgment or apology.

The study was led by Dr. Martin Makary a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  They looked at responses to a patient harm questionnaire from a one year period ending in May 2013.  While the findings are not enough to make definitive conclusions when it comes to patient harm and disclosure they serve as a great place to start a conversation about accountability in medical care.

How do I know if I should sue my doctor?

justice.jpgOur Law firm looks at two primary factors when we help a potential client determine if they have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit. The first thing we try to determine is if the doctor failed to meet the standard of care the victim should have recieved.  

Then we look at the injury to determine if there is enough of an injury to the victim to warrant a lawsuit.

We understand that the decision to sue can be a difficult decision to make.  So we want to me sure that they have had a chance to consider all the factors.  

My baby was born with a birth injury now what?

birth.jpgA birth injury or defect is last thing on any any parent's mind on the day their child is born. They have had a plan they followed for 9 months and this is the day it all comes together, but complications can arise. During both the pregnancy and delivery there are situations and events that may result in injury to the baby. If they were avoidable, it is critical that the legal rights of the child and parents are protected. 

Not all birth injuries are grounds for a legal claim.  Many times complications occur during delivery that despite a doctor's best efforts and skills result in unavoidable birth injuries.  However if it can be determined that a dangerous or defective product, negligent doctors or reckless care practices contributed to a baby's condition, there may be grounds to pursue compensation. It can be very difficult to establish the cause of an injury or defect and generally requires a team of legal and medical experts to determine.

What is the value of a human life?

small-plane.JPG"The fire ignited when the small airplane smashed into a parking lot and empty building in central Anchorage on a failed takeoff. Passersby ran to pull four burning people from the Cessna Skywagon. But when they tried to rescue 4-year-old Miles Cavner, the airplane cabin was engulfed in fire. As Stacie Cavner screamed that her son was burning, police officer Will Cameron spotted Miles on the cabin floor. Fire was scorching the boy's body -- and keeping Cameron from saving him."

This description was pulled from a USA Today article on how fires following survivable small plane crashes lead to over six hundred deaths a year. The article was part of a bigger series the newspaper did on the dangerous design of small planes. Now, my law firm doesn't handle plane crashes but the article points to an important truth that applies to all areas where safety is a major concern: money, not safety, is all that matters to corporations and insurance companies. 

3 Common Causes of Birth Injuries

maternity-ward.JPGIf a baby is injured before, during or immediate following birth, parents can be devastated to learn that serious or permanent damage has been done. Parents-to-be may go from dreaming about all the possibilities for their child to confronting the reality of all the limitations and challenges that now lay ahead.

Considering the physical, financial and emotional toll this can all take on parents and their baby, many people in this situation choose to take legal action against the parties responsible for a birth injury. Understanding common causes of birth injuries that can lead to a legal claim can help parents and caregivers as they plan for an uncertain future:

How do you know if a Surgical Error is Medical Malpractice?

scalpel.JPGEvery patient in the hospital should know that there is at least some risk associated with any medical procedure. There is really no guarantee that an operation or course of treatment will be completely safe or effective. However, people should be able to have reasonable expectations that medical staff will do whatever they can to keep a patient safe and minimize the risks of any procedure.

Unfortunately, mistakes are made far too often in hospitals across the country. Last year, Scientific American reported that studies have estimated that as many as 440,000 people are killed each year as a result of medical mistakes made in U.S. hospitals. This is about one-sixth of all fatalities in the country and makes medical error fatalities the third leading cause of death.

The Value of Transparency

Chest-X-RayWhy does transparency matter? We are a society that makes purchasing data based on research and comparison. We want to read others' reviews of services and service providers before we buy. We are genuinely curious about how well they performed the service. We think it is valuable to know how well their customer service was performed. If they claim high quality standards, then we believe that they should meet them. We think it is important to know if the price advertised is the price you pay. Transparency in health care is one of those buzzwords that is thrown about when the Health Care industry is concerned about their image to the public. However two incidents this month leave us questioning how committed they are to the idea of transparency.

Earlier this month, due to public outcry, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) committed to making it's data on hospital mistakes data publicly available after removing public access to it last month (a change they denied they were going to make back in 2013). What is concerning is that not only did they remove access, but they didn't announce it. Before the data was removed the public could compare the quality of care at thousands of hospitals by seeing the number of hospital-acquired conditions that occurred at them. Hospital mistakes like infection rates and foreign objects left inside patients after surgery were among the list of things the public could compare. 

Hospitals must keep patients safe by avoiding negligent practices

hospita-negligence.JPGWhen people go to the hospital in Chicago, they are often cared for by a number of doctors and nurses. If something bad happens and a mistake is made, it can be easy to assume that the liability begins and ends with those directly providing care. 

However, in some instances, there can be a case made for unsafe conditions at a higher level. This often results in claims asserting hospital negligence, which could be beneficial for patients. Because a hospital has far more financial resources at its disposal than an individual, the chances of recovering full damages in the event that a claim is successful could be much better. But establishing hospital negligence can be complicated, so it may be helpful to learn more about this area of medical malpractice.

Could "black box" technology reduce surgical errors and improve patient safety?

Surgical errors could be reduced by using data from er recordingsAfter a tragic plane or automobile crash, we often read that investigators will know more about the incident after they check the "black box." These devices record data that proves to be crucial in determining what went wrong and under what conditions the accident occurred. The information gathered from the black box can be crucial to collecting objective and clear information.

A similar system is being tested in a Canadian hospital to record data during surgical procedures. Upon completion of an operation, doctors can look back at their work and identify any areas where mistakes may have been made. The black box system consisting of three cameras and three microphones was recently installed in one hospital as part of a pilot period. During the period it determined that doctors have been making errors during two specific steps during laparoscopic weight-loss surgeries (Lap-Band). 

How error-prone terms can lead to medication errors

IMG_4537.JPGMedication errors account for a good percentage of medical malpractice cases and the fact of the matter is that they are far too common. Whether a doctor fails to identify potentially harmful drug interactions or a patient is given the wrong drug or dosage, mistakes do happen and people can suffer enormously as a result. Sadly, some of these mistakes are made simply because of someone misinterpreting or misreading medical information.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMB) has an extensive list of the most error-prone abbreviations, dose designations and symbols that contribute to medication errors. Those that appear on the list are no longer supposed to be used in the field of medicine, but knowing what some of them are might be a good indicator of just how easily and often these mistakes are made.

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