Due to the fact that anything can happen during a cruise, ships are often staffed with medical professionals in case a traveler needs medical attention. However, until a recent decision made by a U.S. court, it was nearly impossible to hold them liable if anything went wrong with a patient's treatment. Illinois residents who enjoy cruises may be interested in learning that a U.S. judge has now made it possible to file lawsuits against cruise lines for nursing negligence.
The ruling stemmed from an incident in which an elderly passenger fell while his ship was in port. Following the incident, the passenger received treatment from medical professionals in the cruise ship's onboard clinic. However, the treatment was reportedly substandard, and, as a result, the man went into a coma and eventually died. The passenger's daughter filed a wrongful death claim against the cruise line citing failure to diagnose cranial trauma, but her claim was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge due to immunity under maritime law.
A U.S. Court of Appeals judge reviewed the case and examined maritime law and medical malpractice law. The judge determined that cruise line could indeed be held liable. The judge further stated that the cruise line is responsible for medical negligence on part of the doctors and nurses.
When a loved one dies due to nursing negligence, the loss often places heavy burdens on the surviving family members. Families who have suffered losses due to substandard care may have the right to file medical malpractice claims against the medical staff or medical facility where the patient was treated. The civil court system in Illinois may award damages based upon evidence that the staff members were negligent in a manner that caused or contributed to the patient's death.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Suing Cruise Ship Doctors for Medical Malpractice", Spencer Aronfeld, Nov. 25, 2014