March 22, 2012

County Hospital Settles Pair of Medical Negligence Cases

by Levin & Perconti

Medical malpractice cases come in many forms. When categorizing the types of malpractice in common parlance, there is usually too much emphasis on the injury itself and less attention on the actual type of negligence alleged. In other words, two patients may file a medical malpractice lawsuit after suffering brain injuries. However, the actual cases could be wildly different depending on how those injuries developed. For one patient, the injury may have been caused by a surgical error, with a doctor making egregious mistakes in the middle of the procedure that led to the injury. In the other case, the problem may be rooted in a failure to diagnosis, with claims not that the doctor caused the initial injury but that the consequences of the injury were far greater than they should have been because the doctor did not identify the problem when a reasonable doctor would have.

Each of these two legal cases, though both involving medical malpractice following brain injuries, will have very different arguments and evidence presented. Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know that it is often helpful for local residents to be aware that the type of negligence accusations made are usually more critical than the type of harm itself. Understanding this distinction makes it easier to understand why certain cases might be stronger than others, depending on the available evidence. Looking only at the harm is often less helpful.

In any event, however, the same goal in virtually all medical malpractice lawsuits is to provide redress to those hurt by the errors and to ensure that the negligent party is held accountable. Both of those goals can be met either via settlement between the parties or successful verdicts from a judge or jury after a trial. As many are aware, settlements are actually more common than verdicts.

Unfortunately, there is a public misconception that settlements provide less accountability, and that somehow families which accept settlements are only in the case to make money. Of course, this is entirely untrue. Just as with cases that go all the way to trial, settlements serve the same accountability function, often involving publicizing a negative event that occurred and ensuring that the hospital, doctor, nurse, or other medical professional faces some consequences for their actions. In addition, each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm has worked with families who seek to ensure changes are made at different institutions by requiring certain safety improvements as part o settlement agreements.

For example, this week the LA Times published a story on two settlements reached by one county hospital in that community. In one case, a woman suffered a stroke after giving birth. However, the medical team failed to provide reasonable care and she was sent home. She had to return to the hospital the very next day where she was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain. As a result of the delay she suffered permanent, severe brain damage. In the second case, a man came to the hospital with a head injury that he obtained while at work. The injury was very severe requiring prompt action. However, the medical team did not move quickly. Instead he was simply given medication and forced to wait. Eventually a surgical procedure was performed, but it was not done in time to prevent permanent neurological injuries.

Both cases settled recently—the first for $3.5 million and the second for $650,000. As the news story about the cases attest, the settlement also involved publicity of the errors, allowing other community members to learn about what went on and how. This publicity will no doubt have impact on steps that the hospital takes to prevent similar problems in the future.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Medical Malpractice Deaths Could Have Been Avoided if Doctors Washed Their Hands

Too Much Noise in Operating Rooms Increase Surgical Errors