Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. As many as 251,000 people may die each year as a result of medical error.
Medical malpractice can be especially challenging for patients and families. You sought medical help because you needed treatment. Instead, you now have another problem – one that may be even more severe, distressing, or life-threatening than your original concern.
At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers represent patients and their families when medical errors occur. We understand how challenging this time can be. That’s why we focus on providing the support and knowledge you need, so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a health care provider is negligent in a way that causes injury to a patient. The provider may be a doctor, a hospital, or another healthcare professional.
Providing healthcare can be tough. Every patient has a different history and different needs. Many questions about health and the human body have yet to be answered by medical science, so healthcare providers must often make educated judgments about the best course of action when no clear right or wrong option exists.
As a result, not every patient’s injury or illness can be cured – but not all outcomes of medical care are a result of malpractice. To demonstrate that medical malpractice happened, an injured person and their hospital malpractice attorney must show that:
- The provider violated the standard of care. The “standard of care” is the standard of acceptable treatment by reasonably prudent healthcare professionals. Patients have the right to expect that their diagnosis and treatment will meet the standard of care. If the care a patient actually receives falls below this standard, the provider who gave that substandard care may be negligent.
- The patient suffered injury due to the provider’s negligence. In some instances, a provider falls below the standard of care, but no harm occurs. When an injury does occur, however, the injured person and their attorney must show that the injury was caused by negligent care.
- The injury created damages that a court can address. Damages may include lost wages, additional medical expenses for the treatment of the injury caused by negligence, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Your lawyer can help you understand how these elements apply in your case.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when medical care falls below the standard of care, causing injuries. Because each patient’s situation is unique, the negligence, injuries, and damages can be very different in each case.
Some common types of hospital medical malpractice include:
Failure to order proper testing or treatment. Certain tests are essential during a hospital visit to ensure a patient isn’t harmed. These include blood testing if a transfusion is needed or pregnancy testing to ensure a patient doesn’t receive medications that could harm a developing fetus. When a hospital fails to order the right tests or treatment, injuries may result.
Mishandling laboratory specimens or results. Hospitals run thousands of lab tests each day for the patients in their care. When lab samples are mishandled, procedures are done negligently, or results are mishandled, patients may receive incorrect information. Treatment based on this incorrect information may do more harm than good.
Medication errors. Medication errors include ordering or giving the wrong medication, giving the wrong dose of an appropriate medication, or prescribing medication that is unnecessary or inappropriate. According to the CDC, up to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in US hospitals are not needed. Other medications, like opioids and sedatives, may also be prescribed or dosed inappropriately.
Charting errors. In a hospital, team members rely on accurate charting to see what care a patient has received and what the patient may need. When hospital staff don’t take adequate care to make sure their charting is accurate, a patient may pay the price.
Understanding Loretto Hospital Malpractice
Loretto Hospital is one of many in Chicago that provide care to the surrounding community. Like other hospitals, Loretto Hospital is overseen by several different regulators, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
In May 2022, Loretto Hospital received an overall grade of B for hospital safety from the Leapfrog Group, an independent hospital safety rating organization.4 Leapfrog noted that while Loretto Hospital achieved several of Leapfrog’s standards for safety, the hospital is still working on reaching Leapfrog’s standard for “effective leadership to prevent errors.”5
In February 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services investigated an incident at Loretto Hospital in which a patient in the behavioral health unit used a lighter to set fire to a mattress. CMS determined that the fire occurred because Loretto staff had failed to meet the standard of care in examining behavioral health patients’ personal items to ensure that patients could not injure themselves or others with nearby items.6 CMS also noted that Loretto Hospital identified the cause of this lapse and has taken steps to correct it. No one was injured in the fire.
Hospital malpractice can be challenging to uncover. Determining what went wrong and why may be complex, especially when many hospital staff members work together to provide care to a single patient.
Where to Turn for Help
When you receive medical care, the last thing you should have to fear is that you will be harmed further. If you’ve been injured and you suspect medical negligence is to blame, contact us today. Your first consultation with our office is free and confidential. You’ll speak to one of our experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyers, and we’ll do what we can to help you understand your options and move forward.