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Court Finds Hospital Can Be Sued in Patient on Patient Attack

The Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at our firm usually work on cases where a medical professional has failed to perform up to a reasonable standard of care. In these case a patient has suffered severe harm because their doctor did something inappropriately or did not do something that should have been done according to prudent medical practices. These cases of negligence on the part of medical professionals frequently give rise to what are referred to as medical malpractice lawsuits.

However, hospitals and medical centers can also be the site of other actions which might give rise to civil lawsuits. For example, AMED News posted a story this morning on an appellate court ruling involving potential liability related to a patient-on-patient assault. The case involves a 20-year old woman who was a patient at a mental health facility after experiencing mental problems. While showering at the home the woman reported that a male resident entered her room and assaulted her. Following the incident the victim filed suit against the medical facility for failing to properly monitor the other individuals in the facility and not properly supervising the man who assaulted her. She also alleged that the facility did not have the resources to properly care for all of the residents in the home.

The medical center denied liability and thought to have the suit thrown out because of failure to comply with certain medical negligence procedure rules. Conversely, the plaintiff’s attorneys explained that the case was not a medical malpractice suit, because the conduct in question did not bear a substantial relationship to medical care provided by a medical professional. The trial court initially ruled in favor of the medical center. However, recently a state appellate court overruled that decision and noted that the woman could proceed with her claim under a premise liability theory. Premise liability refers to the responsibility that all property owners owe to those on their property to keep them safe from certain dangers.

This case is also an important reminder of the need all facilities like this medical center to ensure that patients, residents, and guests are kept safe from criminals in the area. A report last year from the Joint Commission showed that health care institutions are increasingly the site of crimes like assault, rape, and homicide. In the last decades and a half there have been at least 256 such violent crimes reported in the organization’s database.

One of the key roles of all injury attorneys is to listen to a potential client’s story and understand each of the various potential legal theories that could be used to recover for the victim. As this case demonstrates that involves sharing information about potential alternative bases upon which the case may be rooted. Not all incidents that occur in a hospital fall under a malpractice theory. In our area, a quality Illinois medical malpractice attorney must be flexible enough to understand all ways in which a client may recover. Zealous advocacy on behalf of clients demands that no stone be left unturned when working to help victims navigate the often complex legal system.

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