May 3, 2016

Botched Cosmetic Procedure Prompts Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

Cosmetic surgery should be considered safe and those who undergo a procedure expect that it will be completed properly and safely. Unfortunately, a cosmetic procedure went wrong for one local woman, who suffered severe injuries after the procedure was done. The woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical group alleging that they were negligent in using the wrong materials in her procedure. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000 and is requesting a jury trial.

Bioplasty Gone Wrong

Many different types of cosmetic procedures are available to enhance or improve the body. A bioplasty is a cosmetic procedure used mainly to enhance the buttocks.. During the procedure either prosthetic inserts or some type of material is injected to increase the size of the buttocks. While this type of procedure is usually safe, there are sometimes problems that can occur, particularly when the doctor is negligent. In this case, the woman suffered pain and bleeding after the procedure and the area became infected.

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April 27, 2016

Patient Injured During Surgery Files Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

When we enter the hospital for surgery we trust that our doctor will take proper care of us and not cause us further harm. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened, according to a patient. The man was allegedly harmed because of negligence that occurred during a medical procedure. The man has filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical center and a doctor for medical malpractice. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000 and a jury trial.

Surgical Mistake

The patient in this case was undergoing surgery for a cervical decompression and fusion when the proper procedures were not followed and the man was seriously hurt. The lawsuit indicates that the doctor filed to exercise the standard of care in medical care and treatment. The botched procedure caused him serious and permanent injuries. Mistakes made in hospitals and other medical facilities are among the leading causes of death in the United States.

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March 24, 2016

Botched Colonoscopy Caused Serious Injury, Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

A colonoscopy is typically regarded as a somewhat routine procedure that should be considered safe. This was not the case for one man, who claims he was seriously injured by the doctor during a colonoscopy procedure. The man filed a medical malpractice lawsuit naming the doctor and practice seeking damages in excess of $50,000. According to the documentation, the man suffered a perforated colon and bladder during the operation.


A colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the large bowel. It is a procedure that is recommended for older individuals since it can find pre-cancerous polyps and abnormalities that would otherwise go undetected. The test is widely used as a way to screen for cancer. During the test a thin colonoscope is inserted into the colon. An attached fiber optic camera is used to examine the inside of the colon including the large intestine and usually a portion of the small intestine. If a small polyp is found, it can often be removed immediately.

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March 1, 2016

Woman Sues Doctors for Botched Surgery

by Levin & Perconti

Levin & Perconti law firm is representing a woman who suffered permanent injuries after a surgical mistake. The woman was involved in a car accident during which she broke her pelvis. She was taken to the hospital where it was determined that surgery was required. The woman underwent an operation to repair her pelvic fractures; however, a surgical mistake caused nerve damage in her lower extremities. The woman has filed a lawsuit in Cook County claiming medical malpractice on the part of the surgeons and hospital.

Surgical Mistakes
Surgical mistakes can and do happen regularly in hospitals across the country. When you need to have a surgical procedure done you trust that the surgeons will perform their job properly and that no problems will occur. When a mistake happens during surgery it can cause serious ongoing medical problems or even death. In this case, the surgeons did not position the woman properly during and following the surgery and this lead to nerve damage. Nerve damage causes a number of symptoms and can be quite painful. The woman will likely suffer from the effects of the damage for the rest of her life.

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July 30, 2015

Back to the Basics - Litigating a Surgical Mesh Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Surgical mesh is a medical device that is used to treat a number of health complications in female patients. The material is inserted into the pelvis for the purpose of strengthening its walls. This prevents the bladder and reproductive organs from slipping down into the vaginal area. Though this material is commonly used, it's come under extensive scrutiny. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the surgical mesh has been a safety concern for more than three years. Thousands of women report painful side effects and complications with the device, resulting in numerous lawsuits.

Adverse Reactions to Surgical Mesh

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July 17, 2015

Is Robotic Assisted Surgery More Expensive and Dangerous?

by Levin & Perconti

Robotic assisted surgery is becoming more and more popular to remedy certain conditions, such as pelvic prolapse, endometriosis, and others. However, there have been reports of serious complications and malpractice resulting from the use of these instruments during surgery, including organs being torn.

What are Robotic Surgical Systems?

Various computer-assisted instruments or systems can be used to assist doctors with pre-operative procedures and in performing actual surgery. These devices enable surgeons to use computer technology to move surgical instruments through the patient’s body, although they cannot operate independently of the surgeon.

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November 25, 2014

Almost One Billion Dollars in Medical Malpractice Payouts to Vets Paid by Federal Funds Instead of VA

by Levin & Perconti

In the general population, medical malpractice happens all too often. However, as we learned earlier this year, due to funding issues and mismanagement in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), our country's veterans have been suffering medical malpractice related personal injuries and wrongful deaths at a horrifying rate. While some of the injured veterans and their families are finally obtaining compensation for their injuries, it appears that the department responsible is not actually footing the bill.

VA is Not Paying the Medical Malpractice Settlements

CBS Los Angeles reports that while thousands of payouts totaling nearly a billion dollars to veterans alleged to be medical malpractice victims have been uncovered, the Department of Veterans Affairs is not making those payments. The money is coming from the federal treasury, not the VA's own budget, according to California Congressman Adam Schiff. While settlements in these cases do not necessarily mean that the VA admits to fault for a veteran's injuries, the total amount of payments is a shocking $892 million in the last year and a half alone.

Continue reading "Almost One Billion Dollars in Medical Malpractice Payouts to Vets Paid by Federal Funds Instead of VA" »

October 25, 2014

FDA Approves Treatment for Rare Type of Hemophilia

by Levin & Perconti

In the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency responsible for approving new prescription drugs. Reuters reports that the agency announced that it has approved a new drug called Obizur that will be used to treat bleeding episodes in adults with acquired hemophilia A.

What is Acquired Hemophilia A?

Acquired Hemophilia A is a rare but life-threatening condition. It is caused by the development of antibodies that attack a protein that the human body uses for blood clotting. That protein is called FVIII. When human blood does not clot, even a relatively minor cut can result in extraordinary amounts of bleeding. The bleeding can be even worse after a more serious injury or during surgery. While hemophilia usually only affects males, this rare form of the disorder can affect both men and women, and can be related to pregnancy, cancer, or the use of some medications. However, in many cases of this disorder, no cause is known. This is different from the better known types of hemophilia that are genetic and therefore passed on from parent to child and are present from birth.

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September 27, 2014

Report Released on Top 10 Patient Safety Strategies

by Levin & Perconti

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report earlier this year that details the top ten patient safety strategies that could be immediately implemented by healthcare providers. If every hospital were to enact these recommendations then hospitals would be safer for all of us. Fewer patients would face serious injuries or even death because of what happens to them inside the place where they go to get well. This sort of prophylactic action could ultimately decrease the number of medical malpractice cases and ultimately drive down malpractice insurance costs, meaning doctors and hospitals would benefit as well.

What is the AHRQ?

The AHRQ is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. According to the agency's website, the mission of the AHRQ, “is to produce evidence to make healthcare safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.” This mission resonates with many people who have been victims of medical malpractice and with the attorney who represent them. While recovering financial loses is part of the goal in a personal injury or wrongful death case, in most cases the injured party also has a strong desire to prevent other people from being injured in the future.

What are the Report's Recommendations?

The AHRQ came up with ten strategies that the agency believes have the potential to vastly improve patient safety and save lives if they are widely implemented. Agency Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. said of the strategies, “We have the evidence to show what really works to make care safer...Armed with this knowledge about what works and how to apply it, we can continue to advance our efforts to ensure patient safety.” The ten recommended patient safety strategies, as listed in an agency press release, include the use of:

1. Preoperative checklists and anesthesia checklists to prevent operative and postoperative events.

2. Bundles that include checklists to prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections.

3. Interventions to reduce urinary catheter use, including catheter reminders, stop orders, or nurse-initiated removal protocols.

4. Bundles that include head-of-bed elevation, sedation vacations, oral care with chlorhexidine, and subglottic-suctioning endotracheal tubes to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia.

5. Hand hygiene.

6. The do-not-use list for hazardous abbreviations.

7. Multicomponent interventions to reduce pressure ulcers.

8. Barrier precautions to prevent healthcare-associated infections.

9. Use of real-time ultrasonography for central line placement.

10. Interventions to improve prophylaxis for venous thromboembolisms (Thromboembolisms are blockages of blood vessels caused by a stationary blood clot).

If used, these strategies can especially help prevent healthcare associated infections, bedsores, and medication errors. The report does not just list strategies, however. It also details evidence about the implementation of these strategies and provides information about the context in which they have been used. The hope is that this additional information will allow healthcare providers to adapt the strategies to their own facilities and needs. Some of these strategies are already used in many hospitals, while some are still relatively uncommon.

See Related Posts:

Language Barriers Create Medical Errors

Disciplining Doctors Over Medical Error is Not Occurring Enough

July 23, 2014

“Weekend Effect” Makes Routine Surgeries More Dangerous for Kids

by Levin & Perconti

Sometimes even healthy people need emergencies surgeries, like appendectomies. While many of these surgeries are routine, they are still scary for the patients. And they may be even scarier for parents who have to see their children through them. Medical malpractice is a possibility in any surgery. While most of these surgeries turn out just fine for everyone involved, a new study shows that these surgeries may be more dangerous for kids on weekends than on other days of the week.

Increased Risk of Death

A study performed by researchers at Johns Hopkins shows that simple emergency surgeries for children are more likely to result in complications or death if they are performed on weekends. The researchers note that deaths from these surgeries, which include things like hernia repairs and appendix removals are very rare no matter what day of the week they occur. Its just that while weekend deaths are rare, they are more common than weekday deaths. And the researchers do not know why. Senior investigator Fizan Abdullah, a pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins University Children's Center, says, “Numerically speaking, the number of deaths was quite small, but even a single preventable death is one too many.”

Continue reading "“Weekend Effect” Makes Routine Surgeries More Dangerous for Kids" »

June 20, 2014

No Recovery Against Hospitals for Family Woman Killed with Packing Left in Surgical Wound

by Levin & Perconti

Surgical errors can result in horrible consequences. This is particularly the case when something happens that should never happen in any surgery, like leaving surgical tools in a wound, or improperly packing a wound. However, even when these sorts of obvious errors happen, those who are injured (or their families in cases of death) are not always able to recover in court.

One example of this problem is a recent case from New York, Bucsko v. Gordon. While the court’s decision in the case was not released for publication, and thus has no precedential value, the facts of the case show how families can be prevented from recovering the damages they deserve as a result of the wrongful death of their loved one.

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May 25, 2014

Not All Surgical Injuries May Be Governed by Malpractice Law

by Levin & Perconti

Usually when people think of those who are hurt during a surgery, they assume any lawsuit will be a medical malpractice case. And that is usually the case. This can be a blessing, because medical professionals are held to a higher level of professional responsibility. Their duty to a patient is greater than a regular Joe’s duty is to his common man. But it can also be a burden. Due to misguided attempts at so-called “tort reform” over the past decade, many states have put strict statutes of limitations in place that severely limit the amount of time an injured patient has in which he can file a malpractice claim. Interestingly, a New York court has recently held that not all injuries sustained during a surgery are governed by these oppressive time limits.

Case Example
In Newell v. Ellis Hospital, a woman underwent a surgery. Either while or after she was being extubated (having a tube removed from her larynx that is used during surgery to help with breathing), she fell from the operating table and was injured. Three years after the injury she sued the anesthesiologist and the assistant surgeon involved.
The anesthesiologist filed a motion to have the case dismissed, because it was filed after the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims had run out. In New York medical malpractice claims have to be brought within two and a half years. The trial court ultimately agreed with the anesthesiologist and dismissed the case, but the injured woman appealed.

Continue reading "Not All Surgical Injuries May Be Governed by Malpractice Law" »

April 24, 2014

“I’m Sorry” Bills: Stripping Personal Responsibility from Medical Malpractice Apologies

by Levin & Perconti

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the Alaska Legislature has unanimously passed a bill that would make expressions of apology or compassion inadmissible in medical malpractice trials. Kurt Olson, the bill’s sponsor says his goal is to improve doctor-patient relationships. However, this type of bill strips apologies by medical professionals of any true meaning and act is just one more protection for the powerful insurance and medical industries. This is because, along with protecting so-called apologies, the bill also actively discourages the physician from admitting negligence.

Whether a doctor or other medical professional’s error leads to a personal injury claim, or an even more tragic wrongful death claim, a true apology can be extremely meaningful. Dr. Jennifer K. Robbennolt, PhD, JD has done a study on the effectiveness of apologies in the medical error context. She defines apologies as “statements that acknowledge an error and its consequences, take responsibility, and communicate regret for having caused harm.” However, a law like the one passed by the Alaska legislature eliminates on important part of that definition: taking responsibility.

Real Apologies Heal Doctor-Patient Relationships
According to her study, real apologies can achieve the bill’s sponsor’s goal of improving doctor-patient relationships. But a useful apology must admit fault and take responsibility. Patients care about three things when it comes to medical error: they want to understand what has happened to them, they want to receive an apology, and they want to prevent similar errors in the future. In fact, 98% of patients harmed by medical error wanted or expected the physician to acknowledge the error. Dr. Robbenolt similarly found that people who wind up filing medical malpractice law suits often want to make sure no one else is injured in the way they were, and want to doctors who hurt them to realize what they have done.

The study also shows that doctors who make errors and who realize their errors often want to make a meaningful apology. This bill may seem, on its face, like it allows for that. But instead it encourages doctors to avoid meaningful apologies and instead use words of so-called apology without accepting responsibility.

This is not just bad for the patients. It is also bad for the physicians. Dr. Robbennolt found that physicians are profoundly affected by medicals errors. One described the “sickening realization of making a bad mistake.” While they have plenty of selfish fear regarding their own reputations or the repercussions, many doctors also experience worry and guilt for their patients and stress over the harm done to the relationship.

These doctors want to make meaningful apologies. And in some cases they do. There is a misconception that apologies without a law like the one in Alaska (and 2/3 of the other states) are deadly to a medical practice, but its simply not true. Robbenolt notes in her paper that no link between the risk of litigation and willingness to disclose error has been established. Further, most injured patients do not sue, doctors over-estimate the risk of being sued, and real apologies actually make victims of medical error less likely to sue.

Medical errors hurt patients in a wide variety of ways—some financial and some less tangible. Those less tangible injuries can often be healed with a meaningful apology. Legislation that discourages acceptance of responsibility by doctors eliminates a meaningful method of healing both the patient and the doctor-patient relationship.

Related Blog Posts:

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects State’s Attempt to Take Excessive Funds From Legal Recovery

More Bad Legislation to Limit Legal Rights of Patients

April 22, 2014

Surgical Error: Botched Appendectomy Results in Miscarriage and Death

by Levin & Perconti

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a woman has suffered miscarriage and death as a result of a surgical error. The 32 years old woman, who was 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, was admitted to the hospital for an appendectomy. Rather than removing her appendix, the junior surgeon who operated on her removed her right ovary instead.
In less than three weeks she was back in the hospital for abdominal pains. Two days later she miscarried and died on the operating table after finally having her appendix removed.

The surgeon who removed her ovary denies any misconduct. He had limited experience performing appendectomies on pregnant women, and did not ensure he was supervised during the procedure. He did not call for help when the woman started to bleed heavily during that first operation. The more senior surgeon, who was responsible for supervising the surgeon who committed the surgical error, also denies misconduct.

Prevent Becoming a Victim of Surgical Error
Patients undergoing surgery are at their most vulnerable. They are ill or injured, often frightened, and often don’t fully understand what is going wrong inside their bodies. Not to mention that during the surgery itself they are unconscious and exposed. And, despite the best intentions, surgical errors happen. When that happens, the injured patient or his loved ones should contact a medical malpractice attorney.

However, there are things that patients can do to try to prevent becoming victims of surgical error. A CNN report from 2008 provides five key tips surgical patients can follow to try to prevent becoming a victim. These include:

1. Check out your doctor and hospital.

Just as you would read reviews of a restaurant before booking your anniversary reservation, or you would examine client testimonials before hiring an attorney, you should check the qualifications of your doctor before going under the knife. Find out how many times the doctor has done the procedure and how that compares to other doctors. Research the hospital as well.

2. Tell everyone who you are and why you're having surgery.

It may seem silly, but tell everyone you deal with who you are and what surgery you are having. When hospitals get extremely busy if the staff does not recognize you, it’s easier for them to make a mistake and mix you up with the patient down the hall.

3. Make sure your doctor initials your surgical site before the operation.

This one may also make you feel a little silly, but it’s actually endorsed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It’s a brilliant way of making sure the right side of you is operated on.

4. Confirm the surgery site with the surgeon right before the procedure

According to Dr. James Beaty, past president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "You should say, 'I'm not going back to surgery until I see my doctor and we confirm that this is the right site.’”

5. Train someone to be your advocate

You will likely be scared, tired, and nervous when you undergo surgery. So teach your loved ones who will be there with you these same tips, so they can make sure these procedures are followed. After all, the more people who keep saying telling the staff and surgeons that you are John Smith and you are here to have your left kidney removed, the less likely you are to accidentally wind up with Mike Smith’s right knee replacement instead.

Related Blog Posts:

Surgical Errors are Medical Malpractice

Underreporting of Robotic Surgery Errors?

April 10, 2014

Florida Joins Illinois in Rejecting Medical Malpractice Damage Caps as Unconstitutional

by Levin & Perconti

The Florida Supreme Court struck down that state’s cap on wrongful death non-economic damages because the cap violated the equal protection clause of Florida’s constitution. Justice Lewis wrote for the Court that the $1 million cap was unconstitutional because “it imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence” effects more than one person. He explained that the cap resulted in some injured people receiving full compensation while arbitrarily denying others compensation, meaning people were not treated equally before the law.

Caps on non-economic damages prevent those harmed by medical malpractice from being compensated for their injuries. Non-economic damages are meant to compensate the victims for the intangible harms they suffer. In a personal injury case, non-economic damages can include those for pain and suffering and emotional distress, while in wrongful death cases they can compensate the harmed parties for loss of consortium or loss of companionship. Awarding these damages allows a jury to acknowledge that the loss of a child or spouse is not merely harmful to the survivor because of the medical bills or loss of income, but that the loss of the actual person and the relationship is also a real harm.

Florida joins Illinois in a growing number of states that are undoing the damage done throughout the 1990s and early part of this century to civil litigants’ rights to recover for these injuries. Like Florida, Illinois used to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits. Then, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court brought an end to the caps in the landmark decision of Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

History of Medical Malpractice Caps in Illinois
The plaintiffs in Lebron alleged that medical malpractice caused Abigaile Lebron to suffer severe brain injury, cerebral palsy, cognitive mental impairment, inability to be fed normally requiring a feeding tube, and an inability to develop normal neurological function. At that time Illinois law limited Abigail and her mother’s non-economic recovery just as the Florida law limited recovery in that state. Illinois, like Florida, held that the cap on damages was unconstitutional. But the two states used different reasoning. In Illinois it was not an equal protection complaint that won the day for injured parties. Instead, Lebron argued that the cap on recovery violated the separation of powers in the Illinois constitution. That is, it was an example of the legislature doing a job that was reserved for the judiciary. Illinois courts have the power of what is called “remittitur.” Remittitur is a doctrine of law that allows trial judges to determine whether a jury’s award is excessive and to reduce the award if necessary. Since this is a judge’s job, not the legislature’s job, the Illinois Supreme Court invalidated the cap.

The Future of Malpractice Caps in Florida
The Florida decision invalidates the cap in that state for now. But the fight is not over. Lebron was not the first fight over caps in Illinois. The issue had already been litigated years earlier in the Best case, but the legislature passed a cap a second time despite the Best decision. Undoubtedly the powerful lobbies of the insurance and medical industries will try to undermine the Florida Court’s decision by passing a new cap. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports that Sen. Tom Lee, a Republican who negotiated the now overturned law’s passage and who is currently the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, is not confident another damage cap could pass during this legislative session. Both medical malpractice attorneys and brave individuals will have to keep fighting in upcoming sessions in order to protect our rights.

See Related Posts:

CJ&D Briefing Book: The Truth About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Malpractice Verdict Highlights Problems With Malpractice Caps

March 7, 2014

Lost Income, Injuries, and Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

by Levin & Perconti

It can be a scary situation when one is sick or ill. That is why people place so much trust in doctors. As people lack education regarding illnesses and diseases, they rely upon doctors to protect them and keep them safe. This lack of education means that most people are ignorant to problems that may occur when doctors make mistakes. For that reason, it is imperative to visit a lawyer if you believe that a doctor’s mistake has led to a problem.

Many people are unaware of what constitutes a bad result and what constitutes error. If you believe that your doctor behaved incorrectly, it is advisable that you speak with a lawyer who can help you obtain the justice that you deserve. The mistakes that doctors make can last a lifetime. If such an unfortunate accident occurs, you should attain assistance so that the mistakes can be corrected or the situation can be ameliorated.

Compensation for Lost Income

A recent story discussing a med mal case demonstrates the importance of medical malpractice suits in helping in recovery. After the problems regarding her surgery, Ms. Pagan needed aid in returning to a state similar that she possessed before her surgery. The article does a good job of mentioning that medical malpractice suits are not merely a way to obtain money for future surgery or corrections for the mistakes that have previously occurred. It is also a manner for those to recoup losses that these mistakes have produced. Ms. Pagan will receive more than $400,000 for income that she would have earned through 2017.

Not Limited to Physical Injuries
The article points out an important matter. When it comes to medical malpractice issues, it is not only physical medical injuries that apply, but mental injuries and suffering that may have arisen from a mistake. In this case, the victim received damages that included mental or emotional distress. When a victim of medical malpractice has a difficult recovery, a jury can consider more than the costs of physical injuries when deciding on compensation.

It is important that you rely on lawyers that can provide you with the proper information regarding your case. In 2005, the Illinois passed a statute limiting damages of medical malpractice suits to $500,000 for cases involving doctors and $1 million for hospitals. There have been other occasions in which the government has attempted to limit damages regarding medical malpractice insurance. However, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down limitations to non-economic damages concerning medical malpractice suits. The factors involving medical malpractice claims are complicated and it is in your best interests to contact an attorney.

Medical malpractice suits are not only important for the medical damages that result, but also for the emotional and psychological problems that may ensue. If you are considering filing suit for medical malpractice, it is important that you contact an attorney who can fully evaluate your claim.

February 21, 2014

Surgical Errors are Medical Malpractice

by Levin & Perconti

One of the times that a patient is most vulnerable in a hospital setting is while he or she is on the operating table. The patient is likely anesthetized and is relying completely on those medical professionals involved in the operation: the anesthesiologist, the nurse anesthetist and the surgeon. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that there are a myriad of things that can possibly go awry while a patient is on an operating table, and when they do, the patient may have a claim for medical malpractice due to the negligence of his or her medical care providers.

Surgical Errors Related to the Surgery

Performing the operation on the incorrect body part. One of the most common surgical errors to happen in medicine is that a surgeon improperly performs a surgery on the wrong part of the body. For instance, a patient may require a hip joint replacement on his or her left side, but the doctor accidentally replaces the right hip joint. The doctor is likely liable for negligence.

Inadvertently harming other adjacent organs. Sometimes a surgery is performed correctly, but the surgeon acts too aggressively or accidentally injures a nearby organ in the body. Soft tissue organs in the body can often sustain light forces applied to them, such as gentle pressure as a doctor moves an organ that is in the way of the operation. However, soft organs and blood vessels do not fare well when they are inadvertently punctured or cut. Injuries to adjacent organs that are left untreated while the operation is underway or are ignored, can lead to serious problems after the surgery.

Leaving surgical instruments and tools in the body after surgery is complete. Many people have heard of this type of surgical error before. The surgeon leaves a cotton swab, sponge, clamp or tool inside the patient. Surprisingly, many instances of surgical instruments being left inside a patient go undetected for some time before discovery. While it is standard operating procedure to take an inventory of all tools and instruments before and after a surgery is performed, sometimes a nurse miscounts, or a staffer intentionally tries to hide the fact that a cotton swab is unaccounted for to avoid getting in trouble, however short-sighted that logic might be.

Negligent Post-Operative Care
One of the most serious complications that can arise post-surgery is an infection at the operation site. Improper post-operative care, such as improper cleaning, or giving improper cleaning instructions to an outpatient, could be considered negligence under certain circumstances. Similarly, if during recovery, a patient is not properly monitored for signs of post-operative complications, it can also be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.

Contacting a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe that you have suffered from a surgical error due to the negligence of an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, a surgeon or a post-operative care provider, you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you formulate your claim. Please contact us today to learn more.

See Related Blog Posts:

What is a Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims?

Scary Statistics on Medical Malpractice

January 27, 2014

No Two Medical Malpractice Cases Are Valued the Same

by Levin & Perconti

The goal of a medical malpractice lawsuit is often an emotional one: to hold a negligent medical provider accountable for their actions or failure to act that caused an injury or death of a patient. Nothing can reverse what has been done, but victims or their families nevertheless seek justice. In addition, victims or families also seek to be compensated for the injury or loss. While this too will never change what happened, it is a necessary element for plaintiffs to seek redress in the form of damages in order to maintain a legitimate claim. What potential litigants should understand, however, is the scope of possible damages they may seek, and what specific damages are possible in the state of Illinois.

As has been publicized in the world of personal injury law, the 2010 case of Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital significantly altered the landscape of medical malpractice law by finding the cap on the recovery of non-economic damages in such actions unconstitutional. This cap had been legislated in 2005 until its invalidation by the highest court of the state. This grounds for such action rested in a classic separation of powers argument, in which the Illinois Supreme Court determined that it was not up to the legislature, but rather up to the judiciary (either judge or jury) to assess damages on a case-by-case basis.

Non-economic effectively differs from economic damages in that economic damages focus solely on making the victim economically whole again, or at least as much as possible. Lost income, loss of potential income, medical expenses, and other hard and more easily calculable figures make up the category of economic damages. Non-economic damages on the other hand include awards for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other similar damages that cannot be so easily quantified, but nevertheless are quantified if a judge or jury determines a case merits such an award to further compensate a victim. Punitive damages also exist as a means of punishing defendants for their acts. However, punitive damages are not allowed against medical providers for medical malpractice in the state of Illinois.

What Is An Acceptable Award?
An acceptable award is mostly up to a judge or jury to determine on a case-by-case basis. Seldom will an award of damages in a medical malpractice be overturned on review. While the actual legal merits of cases, such as determining liability, are argued on the basis of comparing the facts of the case to previous cases and precedent, damages awards are not so much. In the case of Dobyns v. Chung in the 5th District of Illinois, a jury returned a medical malpractice/wrongful death verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $50,000. The plaintiff filed motions for the court to re-consider the damages, including a motion to hold a new trial on that very issue. These trial level motions went nowhere, and were similarly rejected on appeal. The plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that his award was not on part with other verdicts in similar cases within the state judicial system. The appeals court, however, stated that it is within the discretion of the judge or jury to make damages awards based on how they specifically see the case without measuring it against other cases and verdicts with which they may not be substantially familiar.

Based on this case and long-held principle within Illinois, it is important to understand that an issue of damages will really be determined based on the jury or judge’s unique view of one’s unique medical malpractice claim. This is something to consider and expect when bringing forth such a lawsuit.

See Related Blog Posts:

Sometimes Damages Are the Only Question Mark in Medical Malpractice Cases

Controversy Over Pain and Suffering Caps

January 25, 2014

Be Mindful Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations

by Levin & Perconti

When making the decision of whether or not to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is vital that parties understand their state’s statute of limitations for doing so. A statute of limitations is a specific duration of time imposed by state law in which a party may file a lawsuit. Such statutes vary from states to state as malpractice claims are governed by state law and precedent. Many statutes of limitations in these cases provide a relatively significant amount of time to file suit, but potential litigants must be cognizant of these rules. It may take time to truly come to terms with an injury or death that occurs as a result of medical malpractice, and injured parties or their families may not be ready to move forward so quickly. The time to sue will pass faster than people realize, so it is important to be aware.

Med Mal Time Limits in Illinois
In Illinois, the general statute of limitations to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit is two (2) years. However, as with all such statutes, there are specific rules as to when this clock begins to run. Generally speaking, and as is in the case in Illinois, the two year period begins to run from the date that the victim knows or should reasonably have known that they were in fact injured as a result of a medical provider’s negligent acts or omissions. This is known as “The Discovery Rule,” aptly named because the basis for measuring the statute of limitations starting point relates to the discovery of the malady or injury. The rule was most recently clarified in an Illinois appellate decision.

Anyone believing they were injured by a medical provider’s negligence must be aware of the date that this occurred, and must be prepared to litigate the issue of when that person should have known. This can often complicate the case, because a plaintiff may sue for an injury years after it occurred but only because they discovered it at that time. Attorneys defending the medical provider will undoubtedly argue that the plaintiff should have been aware of the injury much earlier, thus jeopardizing the plaintiff’s lawsuit by arguing it is untimely. It is also important to keep in mind possibilities of tolling, or pausing, the statute of limitations in the event that a second injury exists but could not have been discovered until later, or that there is a second source of an injury that may not have been discoverable by the victim until much later.

In Illinois, like other states, there are exceptions and wrinkles to statutes of limitations. For example, while an individual has two years to file from the time they discover or should have discovered the injury, they can nevertheless file more than four (4) years from the time of the negligent act or omission by the medical provider. This is known as a “Statute of Repose” and it effectively a cap that all litigants must be aware of. Discovering an injury five years after the malpractice that may have caused it unfortunately means it is too late.

Furthermore, for babies injured as a result of doctor or hospital negligence during birth, there is an eight (8) year statute of limitations for the child’s parents to sue for malpractice. In malpractice cases involving minors, a lawsuit may be filed at any time up until two (2) years after the victim’s 18th birthday, but this is capped at eight (8) years from the date of the actual act or omission leading to the injury. The statute of limitations is also generally extended in other cases involving minors.

There are other such examples as well, and it is important for potential litigants to know their deadline for filing a claim to meet the statute of limitations. Contacting an attorney even just to be sure of this deadline may be a worthwhile consultation.

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October 25, 2013

Laser Removal Malpractice Suits on the Rise

by Levin & Perconti

In the United States, laser hair removal medical malpractice suits are quickly on the rise. In the past 20 years, as cosmetic surgeries have become more commonly conducted medical procedures, there has been an increased prevalence of laser hair removal suits. In fact laser hair removal, which uses laser devices to extract hair from the body, have quickly become the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries in the United States.

Furthermore, laser hair removal procedures are some of the most commonly litigated cosmetic procedures, quickly surpassing plastic surgery suits. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology Network in a recent study found that laser hair removal was involved in 36.2% of cosmetic medical malpractice cases, followed by rejuvenation procedures, which accounted for 24.7% of litigated procedures.

The Facts About Laser Hair Removal Suits in the U.S.
The most common injuries that are the subject of laser hair removal suits and litigation are burns, which are the stated injury of 47% of laser hair removal cases. Next in line are scars resulting from laser hair removal, which make up 38.8% of suits, followed by skin pigment alterations, consisting of 23.5% of cosmetic surgeries. The (JAMA) Dermatology Network reported that these suits predominantly list a physician as the main defendant, even when the physician did not actually perform the laser hair removal procedure. This indicates that liability for laser hair removal injuries lies firmly on the physician, who must take on at a minimum a supervisory, if not active operator role, in the laser hair removal procedure.

Legal Treatment of Laser Hair Removal
Currently, there is no significant federal guidance regarding the use of lasers on skin, nor specific requirements for the training and supervision required to legally operate lasers for cosmetic surgery purposes. However, trends in past litigation indicate that physicians will be held predominately liable for injuries, even if they did not personally operate the laser device used to conduct the procedure. In fact, the JAMA Dermatology study found that non-physicians were named in only around 20% of laser hair removals. In contrast, plastic surgeons, physicians and dermatologists were named as the main defendant/operator in over 50% of laser hair removal malpractice cases.

Laser Removal and the Law in Illinois
Under Illinois Administrative Code Chapter Title 68, Part 1285.336, medical professionals are the only parties permitted to perform laser hair removal procedures. Specifically, a licensed physician, or a trained employee working under the supervision of a licensed physician, are the only parties permitted to conduct laser hair removals. Thus, this rule excludes cosmetologists and estheticians from using lasers as a tool for laser removal.

Further, when the physician is in a supervisory capacity for a laser hair removal procedure, the supervisor must be accessible to the non-physician at all times during the procedure via. telephone or other comparable electronic means. The supervising physician is also held accountable for ensuring that the non-physician employee is properly trained for the procedure being conducted. Contact our attorneys today if you would like more information about your rights regarding a personal injury you experienced from a laser hair removal procedure.

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