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Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Common diagnostic errors and medical malpractice

A serious medical condition can greatly affect your life. If you get a severe illness, disease or injury, it may lead to significant disability, loss of enjoyment of life or even death. A misdiagnosis could make the outcome even worse. Diagnostic errors can lead to delayed treatment, incorrect treatment or no treatment whatsoever. 

But what exactly counts as a diagnostic mistake? When does it constitute medical malpractice? Below is an overview of common diagnosis problems and what you can do about them.

Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd. Attorneys Named 2017 Leading Lawyers

Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd. is pleased to announce that shareholders Bruce R. Pfaff, Michael T. Gill, and Matthew D. Ports were selected as 2017 Leading Lawyers for Illinois. Leading Lawyers, a division of the Law Bulletin Media, helps legal consumers identify experienced, reputable attorneys by practice area, with less than 5% of licensed lawyers in Illinois receiving the distinction. The selection process is unique and more rigorous than other attorney search sites, beginning with a survey that asks all licensed lawyers in the state who they would recommend to a family member or friend if they were unable to take the case themselves. Only lawyers most often recommended by their peers make the list. In the crowded and competitive field of legal services, it is an honor to be recognized and respected by our peers and colleagues in the Illinois legal community. Thank you.

PFAFF APPOINTED TO THE ACTL'S SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR JURIS AWARD COMMITTEE

Bruce Pfaff has been appointed a member of the Sandra Day O'Connor Juris Award Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has accepted his invitation to participate and very much looks forward to the privilege of helping to select next year's recipient of this award. Sandra Day O'Connor was one of our best Supreme Court justices and the award in her name honors judges in the United States or Canada who have demonstrated exemplary independence in performing his or her duties, often in difficult or dangerous circumstances. Justice O'Connor is the personification of a dedicated judge and person who cares greatly about our country.

EVANS SCHOLAR CUP

Bruce Pfaff was happy to participate in a significant fundraising event for the Evans Scholars Foundation operated by the Western Golf Association on September 11, 2017. The event was a pro-am fundraiser at the BMW International Championship at Conway Farms and brought together local pros with amateurs who are interested in making a substantial commitment to help fund the Evans Scholars. The Evans Scholarship Foundation provides tuition, room and board, and support for nearly 1000 undergraduates today, and it is growing. Since its founding in 1930, more than 10,000 student-caddies have attended college through the Evans Scholars. As always, the Western Golf Association ran a terrific event.

Qualifying factors for medical malpractice

Medical malpractice claims have dropped in recent years. According to recent reports, the total number of malpractice cases as well as overall payments for these cases dropped significantly between 2003 and 2015. 

It is important for people to seek damages when they believe a doctor has injured them. However, a certain surgery or diagnosis may not be ideal, but it does not necessarily mean malpractice has occurred. There are certain factors that need to be present for an attorney to take on a case.

Prescription errors can have serious consequences

Prescription medication can play a vital role in treating and managing a variety of serious conditions. However, their efficacy can have a negative impact in the case of incorrect use. Unfortunately, several types of prescription errors continue to result in suffering and even permanent health effects for patients throughout the United States.

The results of taking the wrong medication can be severe. Patients may experience allergic reactions or harmful side effects. Some medications may permanently damage previously unaffected organs or exacerbate the course of an existing illness. According to the Federal Drug Administration, one person dies every day because of a medication error and 1.3 million people per year suffer injuries.

Double-booking operations can lead to surgical errors

Double booking surgeries, or running two rooms, is a practice used in teaching hospital in Illinois and around the country. A senior attending surgeon often initiates an operation, then assigns parts of the surgery to a fellow or resident. In double booking situations, the senior surgeon then leaves one surgery to start another one in a separate operating room. While an acceptable practice if the attending surgeon is present during certain parts of the operation, it can lead to surgical errors, according to an investigation conducted in another state.

The study revealed that, while proponents of the practice contend that the procedures are safe, there are many issues surrounding concurrent surgeries. In some instances, surgeons could not be found, leaving patients under anesthesia for long time periods. Residents and fellows were left to perform operations with no supervision. Often, patients had no idea they were double-booked and would have refused to sign consent forms had they been aware of the practice.

Diagnosis errors are prevalent in cardiovascular diseases

With July being Medical Malpractice Awareness Month nationwide, including in Illinois, new research that shows physicians frequently fail to notice early indications of heart disease might be worth discussing. A joint study by a medical malpractice company and a firm that specializes in research and analysis recently published evidence that diagnosis errors by general practitioners in outpatient facilities are frequent occurrences. The study was based on over 250 cases of medical malpractice in which doctors failed to notice signs of cardiovascular diseases that had significant chances of ultimately leading to conditions that are more serious.

Data revealed that the majority of the patients were diagnosed with conditions that showed similar signs and symptoms to that of heart disease, like musculoskeletal pain, esophageal reflux and more. Nearly one-quarter of the patients that ultimately received a diagnosis of coronary atherosclerosis or myocardial infarction had recorded cardiovascular disease histories. A co-author of the study expressed his surprise at finding that the majority of medical malpractice claims were brought by patients who showed typical cardiac disease risk factors and not those who were low-risk cases.

Woman files suit against hospital for surgical errors

Complications can often arise following a surgery in Illinois or elsewhere around the country. Infections, reactions to anesthesia or shock are common after someone undergoes an operation. However, some issues unfortunately occur as a result of a physician's surgical errors. A woman in another state recently filed a lawsuit against a major hospital following a mistake made during a surgical procedure.

A woman filed the lawsuit in a county state court regarding a Dec. 2014 kidney and pancreatic transplant surgery. The lawsuit states that a physician performed the surgery with a medical camera, assisted by two other doctors. The woman was unaware that the camera was left inside her following the surgery.

Failure to diagnose leads to unnecessary surgery

Being given a diagnosis of breast cancer would be traumatic for an Illinois resident to experience. Surgery to remove the breast is often a step in the treatment process for the disease. Recovery from the surgery would understandably bring both physical and emotional struggles.  However, discovering that the surgery was unnecessary would be devastating for a person to hear. A recent situation where the failure to diagnose a condition properly has led to a malpractice suit against a hospital in another state.

A woman was told she had a common form of breast cancer following a biopsy at the hospital. She was sent for a mastectomy to remove her breast. There, her civil suit states that a critical step in the hospital's pre-operative procedures never took place. The guidelines state that pathology reports conducted by other facilities must be reviewed by someone from the hospital's medical staff. Though the surgeon certified that the report had been examined, the review had never occurred, according to court documents.

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Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd. - Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

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Bruce Pfaff was named one of the Top 10 Personal Injury Plaintiffs' Lawyers in Illinois by Leading Lawyers Network, 2013. ยป Read More