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Medical Malpractice “Infographic” — It Happens More Than You Think

A new infographic is making its way around the web this week that touches on a wide range of general medical malpractice issues. The visual attempts to put into perspective some basic statistics about medical malpractice and legal liability.

For example, the image discusses those states which currently have laws on the books placing an arbitrary cap on damage awards in in these cases, ranging from $250,000 to $785,000. It shares the most recent data which shows a decline in total med mal legal payouts over the last eight years, peaking in 2003 and decreasing by over a billion dollars annually by 2011.

Back Through the Ages: Landmark Med Mal Cases
The site sharing the infographic also includes an interesting list of some large, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy legal cases over the years related to malpractice. Browsing the list is an interesting reminder of the many different forms that these errors take, and the variable consequences that result.

For example, information is shared on an important birth injury verdict stemming from oxygen deprivation. The mother in the case was given too many labor inducing drugs, the net result was fetal distress which led the infant to be without oxygen for some time. The child was saved but not before developing a serious form of cerebral palsy. A subsequent lawsuit resulted in a $31 million ruling. However, because of rules in the state, the family was unable to collect anything unless the state legislature specifically approved the request. Finally, in 2012, many years after the actual birth and legal ruling, the family finally received the legislative approval.

In another–quite bizarre case–a surgeon was sued for errors made during a back surgery. The patient was scheduled to have titanium rods placed into his back. However, for reasons not fully explained on the infographic site, the surgeon did not use titanium rods. Instead, he inserted a screwdriver into the patient’s back. The screwed eventually snapped, leading to many different pain, suffering, and medical complications for the patient. Eventually, after several more surgeries, the patient died. The man’s family filed a lawsuit which resulted in a liability ruling a $5.6 million payment.

Other cases referenced in the article relate to a far-too common problem–operating on the wrong part of the body. For example, a man received a $7.5 million settlement when it was discovered that during an open heart surgery his doctor had operated on the wrong artery. The error was only discovered after the man was rushed to the hospital with chest pains as a result of problems with the clogged artery that should have been cleared.

Similarly, a man received a $1.15 million payout after his wrong leg was amputated. A diabetic, the patient eventually lost both legs as a result of the incompetence
Unfortunately, some statistics referenced regarding medical malpractice payments and their effect on medical on the site are misleading–such as the myth that “defensive” medicine is a problem that will suddenly go away if patients no longer have full legal rights.

For guidance on medical malpractice laws in Illinois, feel free to contact our legal team today.

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