Many loud voices calling for so-called tort “reform” claim that all doctors face multiple medical malpractice lawsuits throughout their career. They attempt to paint the picture of all good doctors fighting away claims of negligence year after year. However, as new data recently demonstrated, only a very small percentage of professionals ever face multiple suits. An even smaller minority are ever forced to pay out a single claim. In reality, it remains difficult for many victims of medical malpractice to actually fight their way into courts, avoid the various tools available to defense attorneys to throw the case out of court (motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions), force timely discovery cooperation, and actually convince a jury to hold the negligent professional accountable. The last thing that medical malpractice victims need are arbitrary rules handed down on high from legislators that dictate how a jury must decide damages in every case regardless of the circumstances.
Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that far from being an epidemic, it is only a few of the consistently irresponsible medical professionals who face repeated malpractice lawsuits. The civil law system is actually necessary to root out these repeat offenders and ensure that steps are taken such that they cannot continue to harm unsuspecting patients. Without these deterrents, lives will continue to be lost and families suffer because of these medical problems.
For example, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported this week on the firing of a particularly negligent orthopedic surgeon after seven separate medical malpractice cases alleging mistakes made during his procedures. The suits were all filed in a seven year period and at least one of them alleged that the doctor’s actions led to the death of a patient.
Several of the cases involve claims that the doctor did not actually perform the operation as required, meaning that the patient’s problems were never solved. For example, one medical malpractice attorney explained that several former patients visited his office and claimed dissatisfaction with the doctor’s work. One patient complained that pain continued after an operation. The patient went to a different doctor for a second opinion only to have the other doctor explain that the surgery had not actually been performed. The attorney admitted that this represented a very unique situation, where a doctor puts a patient under anesthesia and then does not perform the required operation.
In another claim against the doctor, a wife alleged that the surgeon’s mistake led to the death of her husband. The wife claimed that the surgeon injected steroids into her husband’s knee and then failed to recognize, diagnose or treat the sepsis that eventually developed in the area. The man eventually died from complications from the sepsis. The suit filed after the event claims that the doctor should have recognized the abnormal white blood cell count and he should not have administered inappropriately high levels of IV fluid to the man who had a history of abnormal heart problems. The case is set for trial in a month where a jury will get to decide whether the doctor was negligent in his conduct.
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