Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm understand that when explaining the legal process in these cases, it is hard to underestimate the importance of expert medical witnesses. These individuals are absolutely crucial to the case and success or failure in any trial (and negotiations) hinge on the findings of medical experts examining information in the case.
Expectedly, these expert are slightly less crucial in cases with obvious cases of negligence–like when an instrument is left in the body or the wrong limb is operated on. Certain egregious mistakes are clearly signs of unreasonable care even to those who are not medical experts–like those on a jury. Yet, these types of cases are less common than those involving much more nuanced issues. Most cases require explanation from outside parties.
Medical negligence cases require a showing of a breach of a standard of care. Yet, in many cases it is impossible for juries to intuitively understand what is reasonable in a specific medical situation. Experts explain what is reasonable and whether or not the defendant’s conduct was reasonable in that case. If the jury supports the expert’s assessment, then it is highly likely that they will return a verdict consistent with that opinion.
This is far different from other negligence cases. For example, in those involving car accidents, the jury has a much more personal understanding of what is or is not reasonable driving. Speeding, taking corners too sharply, failing to yield, running lights, and other actions are obvious signs of negligence. Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know that is far different than understanding what tests should have been conducted, how they should have been interpreted, what treatments should have been ordered, and other questions which often come up in medical negligence cases.
The Southeast Record recently published an article on the designation of expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case that was filed earlier this year. The story is a testament to the vital role these witnesses play in these case. At least four different experts will testify on various aspects of the case.
The underlying case alleges wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the patient was admitted to the hospital in March of 2010 with complaints of chest pain. The complaint alleges that, even though EKG readings were abnormal, the patient was discharged. The initial diagnosis was arthritis, acute bronchitis, chest wall pain, and hypokalemia. The early dismissal would prove fatal. Within nine hours of leaving the hospital the woman was found dead in her head as a result of a “dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysm.”
The subsequent medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the doctor at the facility was negligent in care which proximately led to the death. The suit claims that the professional should have admitted the patient to the hospital for cardiac monitoring and should have properly diagnosed the condition. The experts in the case will obviously testify as to the reasonableness (or lack of reasonableness) of the doctor’s conduct.
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