In certain circumstances, a doctor or other medical professional can be held legally responsible for an injury suffered by a patient due to negligence. The Illinois malpractice system allows injured patients to file lawsuits called “medical malpractice claims” against healthcare providers who have caused physical, emotional, or financial harm due to poor treatment or lack of care.
The following interview with plaintiff’s attorney David Cates covers the basics of medical malpractice lawsuits, including what “malpractice” means, who can sue for malpractice, when a lawsuit may typically be filed, and how cases are typically resolved.
I know that it is challenging for most people to understand what “medical malpractice” means. Can you give us a quick definition?
“Medical malpractice” is any injury or loss that occurs as the result of medical treatment, diagnostic procedures, drugs, or other supplies. Any time a patient suffers harm due to treatment by a healthcare professional, there has been negligence. Whether that negligence was severe enough to warrant compensation through litigation depends on the facts of each case.
“Medical malpractice” is the term used for negligence in medical treatment or diagnosis resulting in harm to a patient. Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and other personnel may be considered negligent if they fail to provide adequate care before, during, or after treatment. Negligent acts can include:
– Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a patient’s condition
– Failure to monitor a patient’s condition during surgery, causing the patient harm
– Surgical procedures which result in injury to nearby tissue or organs
– Treating a medical problem without resorting to necessary drugs, supplies, and equipment. Drugs may also be “defective” if they do not hold up to their intended use.
– Failure to take available protective measures against potentially infectious diseases, resulting in the spread of bacteria or viruses to other patients
– Failure to remove all surgical instruments from a patient after an operation. As a patient recovers, some instruments may work through surrounding tissue and damage organs or blood vessels
Most patients suffering injury as a result of medical negligence are entitled to compensation through a lawsuit.
Who can bring a “medical malpractice” claim?
It is important to remember that when you file a medical malpractice claim, not just the injured patient is involved in litigation. Usually, when someone files a case against another person or entity, like a hospital or clinic, that person is the only one named in the lawsuit. But when someone files a medical malpractice claim, they are filing on behalf of anyone who might have been injured by the same doctor or healthcare provider.
Most states require patients to file their claims within a specific timeframe, known as the “statute of limitations.” As a result, a patient does not need to be in the hospital when they file their claim, and the clock is not ticking until they leave. So, for example, if a patient has surgery on January 1st and files a claim on March 1st, that patient still has three months to file a lawsuit.
Personal injury attorneys file most medical malpractice cases on behalf of injured patients due to negligent medical treatment. The patient must file the lawsuit within the allotted time, which differs from state to state. Timeframes range from one year to 10 years following an injury or discovery of harm.
If you feel that you have been harmed by any error committed by a doctor, nurse, hospital staff member, nursing home employee, or pharmaceutical company, you may wish to contact a lawyer who is familiar with medical malpractice cases.