Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm often explains how medical negligence is not evenly distributed across all locations or professionals. In other words, certain medical professionals often act irresponsibly time and again, harming more than one patient. One crucial role played by the civil justice system is helping to provide accountability so that future patients do not suffer preventable harm at the hands of those who make repeated errors. Sadly, there is still a long way to go before chronically negligent professionals are stopped from seeing (and hurting) more and more patients.
Take, for example, a recent story in the Dispatch. It chronicles the string of errors affecting various patients committed by a podiatrist. According to the report at least eight different patients have filed medical malpractice lawsuits after suffering severe complications as a result of poor care
One of the patients who shared her situation for the article explained that she first visited the doctor in 2005. She was working as a nursing assistant when an accident left her with a broken left ankle. Never did she suspect that the ankle problem would cause so much damage. The negligent doctor ultimately performed four different surgeries in an attempt to repair the problem. None of the surgeries worked. As a result she had to have her left leg below the knee amputated last year.
Another woman shared a similar story. In her case, she first visited the doctor in 2007 for what she thought were heel spurs. After eight failed surgeries, her leg below the knee was also amputated.
Both women have pending medical malpractice lawsuits against the podiatrist who treated them. They are not alone. There are at least eight pending suits against this single doctor. Eleven suits have been filed in the last few years. Of that group, four involve repeated mistakes so severe that amputations were ultimately required. In one case a patient passed away, spurring a wrongful death suit.
As these suits built up, the doctor eventually resigned his privileges at a medical center and hospital where he previously operated. The medical center is also named in some of the suits against the doctor.
Yet, that does not mean that the doctor is no longer seeing patients. In fact, he continues to operate a podiatry practice and has surgical privileges at two surgical centers in his area. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that most of the patients going under the knife with the surgeon are likely unaware of the various suits against the doctor and complications faced by those victims.
For his part, the doctor has pledged to defend the cases. He claims that he takes on many “high-risk” cases that others are unwilling to take. He argues that he is the “last hope” for many of these patients and so the adverse outcomes are expected in some cases. However, several of the plaintiffs counter that their particular surgeries were not high-risk at all.
Of course, the civil justice system is designed to root out the truth, with both sides able to present evidence and argue in front of neutral observers.
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