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Basic Medical Mistakes and Standards of Care

At the root of all Illinois medical malpractice claims are allegations that reasonable standards of care have been breach by a hospital or medical professionals which caused harm to a patient. Obviously then, determining what constitutes a reasonable standard of care is at the heart of most of these lawsuits. Before one can determine if the standard was or was not met, one must first figure out what that standard actually is.

Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm often explains to clients that proving this standard requires use of expert witnesses. Of course medicine is a very specialized field with professionals taking years of training to learn what should or should not be done in any given situation to best help the patient. Not only are they properly trained initially, but training must be on-going. As new medical research is conducted and new techniques are designed the standards about what does or does not constitute reasonable care changes. Judges and juries are not trained in these matters, and so experts must be brought in to identify what the standard is and whether or not they believe that it was breached in any give case.

This week Indox shared a list of examples of same basic standard of case lapses that can occur in the medical field. For example, trauma care is one area that may have different standards. This area of care is usually thought of as that provided in the first hour after an emergency, such as a car accident. When an injured patient is rushed to a hospital, the medical professionals are generally charged to follow principles outlined in the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) system. The system was developed by a surgeon in the late 1970s whose children were the victims of medical malpractice after they received inadequate trauma care after a small plane accident. By 1980 the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma adopted ATLS. It is now the standard for trauma care nationwide. When the principles it espouses are not met, then the medical professionals providing the care likely committed malpractice
Anesthesia monitoring has different basic guidelines which lay out what level of care is acceptable. In the 1980s, responding to an ABC News segment on anesthesia mistakes, the American Society of Anesthesiologists updated its standards and practices regarding patient monitoring. By 1985 that effort had transformed into the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation which offers information about acceptable standards in the field. If a loved one has died or suffered injury while under anesthesia there is a chance that the injury was caused by these guidelines not being followed appropriately. If this happens in our area a Chicago medical malpractice lawsuit might be appropriate.

Fatal allergy detection has its own standards. Before 2000, many medical questionnaires did not include any details asking about allergies. It wasn’t until a landmark Institute of Medicine report on patient safety in 1999 that the use of the questions became common practice. Now many facilities have strategies in place to prevent communication breakdowns which might allow a patient to be given something to which he or she was allergic. Failure to abide by those standards is a preventable error that often results in legal liability.

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