An Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit is essentially an accusation by a former patient (or their family members) that medical professionals failed to act reasonably when providing care. This is a form of a negligence lawsuit, which in the civil justice system is known as a “tort.” The tort of negligence is based upon standards of reasonableness. Generally, this means that all community members are expect to act in a reasonable way and can be held liable for the damage they cause when they fail to do so.
In the medical malpractice context, however, the reasonableness standard is one based on what other reasonable medical professionals would have done in a certain situation. In other words, a doctor’s actions are not compared with the actions of just any other community member but with other doctors in his area. In this way, patients are protected even though they do not personally understand what a reasonable doctor would have done.
Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers work with many patients who believe that they may have suffered harm because of errors by their doctor. Yet, many are not sure exactly what types of mistakes were made. That is understandable. It is often only after a thorough investigation, examination of the record, discussion with other expert doctors, and similar activities that a true understanding of what went wrong emerges. Understanding how to compare the actions of one doctor against the actions that a reasonable doctor would have taken is exactly why patients hire a medical malpractice attorney.
The amount of investigation needed varies considerably from case to case. Sometimes the problems require exhaustive examination of detailed and voluminous documents. In other instances, the error is glaring. In legal lingo those glaring mistakes sometimes include use of the doctrine known as “res ipsa loquitor” – Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.”
For example, About Lawsuits recently discussed a jury verdict in a medical malpractice case where a surgical team left a sponge inside a patient’s body after a surgical procedure. Obviously, patients do not usually have sponges randomly found inside their body. Therefore, when a medical device is found inside a body the negligence generally “speaks for itself.” The New England Journal of Medicine reports that there are about 1,500 of these cases every year. Shockingly, it is often years before the mistake is actually uncovered, usually after a patient begins suffering from some unique symptoms.
In this case, the sponge caused the patient a string of problems. She had intense abdominal pain, a severe infection, bowel perforation and obstruction. She was eventually forced to undergo additional surgery where 16 inches of her small bowel were removed. Even then, her condition has not entirely returned to normal. She filed suit against the medical team that performed her surgery. The jury found in favor of the victim, awarding her $525,000. The jury concluded that the nursing team involved in the procedure failed to conduct a proper count of medical equipment which led to the sponge being left in the body.
If you have suspicions that you or a loved one suffered harm because of mistakes made by a doctor, nurse, nurse’s assistant, or other medical employee, be sure to share your story and learn about your legal rights.
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