Last week our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys reported on the results of a new study which investigated the effect reporting trends have on shaping the perception of the civil justice system, particularly as it related to medical malpractice cases. We explained how it is rare to find any reporting on cases where the defense wins or that involve average size jury awards. The tendency for reporting to skew toward large victories for the plaintiff unfairly paints the picture in the mind of many community members that the system is rife with abuse.
Calls for “reform” of the system by the general public are often spurred by this belief that plaintiffs are using the system to unfairly acquire large sums of money that they do not need. In reality, that is not at all the case. Instead, many patients never receive anything, and those who do usually are awarded a much more modest amount than the totals that make headlines in the papers. However, the exception often proves the rule. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys were surprised this weekend to read a newspaper story in the Madison-St. Clair Record reporting on the end of an Illinois medical malpractice trial in which the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant doctor.
The case involved the heart attack death of a local woman in early January 2009. The victim’s husband filed suit against some medical professionals who provided her care for his perceived failure to take appropriate steps which could have saved her life. Specifically, the plaintiff’s attorney argued that the doctor in question did not follow appropriate medical standards in the care that he provided. The plaintiff’s attorney suggested that the woman should have been given an EKG, because of risk factors that she had which suggested she may have cardiovascular disease. The attorney summarized by noting that “if you become a doctor, you become respected by the community. What’s expected is that you care about patients, that you do an exam that lasts more than five minutes for a woman you haven’t seen in three years.” On the other side, the defense attorney suggested that the involved doctor followed applicable standards when he provided care to the woman. He argued that the victim did not exhibit cardiac symptoms and therefore an EKG was not appropriate.
After hearing all of the evidence in the case, the jury deliberated for about two hours before returning a verdict in favor of the defense. They were not sufficiently convinced that the doctor’s actions was less than a reasonable standard of care. While it is rare for news stories to report on verdicts of this nature, these verdicts do occur on many occasions. It is a natural part of the civil process that nothing is ever certain about the outcome of a particular trial. That is why the experience and track-record of an attorney is important for all victims to investigate before making a decision on who will help represent them in a potential case against medical professionals who have done them harm. We continue to urge all those considering legal action to take the time to conduct proper research before visiting with a legal professional and sharing their story.
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