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Chicago medical negligence lawyersBeing honest, transparent, and accountable for a medical mistake might be the ethical approach - in fact, this behavior is encouraged by the Code of Medical Ethics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately, not all physicians follow this ethical guideline. Even more concerning the data from a recent study, which revealed that more doctors are willing to cover up a mistake. Why is this becoming a trend, and what does it mean for some of the most vulnerable members of society? The following explains further, and provides some important information for victims of medical error.

Nearly One-Fourth of Doctors Willing to Cover Up a Mistake

More than 7,500 doctors from over 25 specialties were asked one simple question: is it ever okay to cover up a medical mistake. The majority of doctors said no (78 percent), which is a good thing, but seven percent said they would most definitely cover up an error. Another 14 percent said “it depends.” Their stance was often based on the level of harm that the patient had or could experience. This was across all specialties, which includes doctors who treat some of society’s most vulnerable members.

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Chicago medical malpractice attorneysWhile the current rate of medical malpractice in the United States places every patient at risk, some have a higher risk than others. Among them are non-English and limited English speaking patients and families (about 20 percent of the U.S. population, or about 57 million people). Just what is this risk, and what does it mean for limited or non-English speaking citizens? More importantly, what rights do people in these communities have if they do experience a serious error? The following explains further.

Understanding the Risks

Numerous studies have been conducted on the potential harm that patients face when doctors make critical mistakes and diagnostic errors. Among them are studies that have examined the potential effects of language barriers, which have found that non-English speaking and limited English speaking patients have an overall higher risk of experiencing:

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersThere are many types of medical error that end badly, but often the most tragic are those involving a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer. Many either lose their lives, or a portion of their body that never should have been removed. What is most concerning, however, is the frequency at which these accidents occur. If you or someone you love has been misdiagnosed with cancer, or has suffered because of a failure to diagnose, the following can help you understand your options.

An All-Too-Common Occurrence

Each year, approximately 1.3 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Of those, around one in 71 cases are misdiagnosed. This was determined by a recent study from The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. What is even more concerning, however, is how many of these cases are misclassified, meaning the patient did actually have cancer, but pathologists had misjudged how far or fast the cancer had spread. Much like a failure to diagnose (which is also surprisingly common), such an error can ultimately lead to the unnecessary and untimely death of a patient.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhile it is fairly common knowledge that developing countries still struggle with infant and maternal mortality in childbirth, many wrongly assume that such tragedies are not an issue in developed nations. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, statistics indicate that maternal mortality has doubled over the last 20 years. If someone you love has suffered the same fate, and you believe medical negligence may have been a factor, the following information can help you better understand your rights, including your right to compensation.

Understanding Maternal Mortality in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600 women die from childbirth complications per year. Complications related to the puerperium (the reproductive system’s return to its pre-pregnancy state, which continues over the course of about six weeks after childbirth), eclampsia, preeclampsia, hemorrhaging of the pregnancy, placenta previa, and pregnancy with an abortive outcome are some of the most common causes. Many of these complications, if caught early, could be prevented or managed prior to, during, and after delivery. In such instances, medical negligence may have occurred.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersIn a perfect world, patients would be guaranteed high quality medical care. They would not have to worry about receiving the wrong medication or being subjected to the wrong treatment. Conditions would be diagnosed as early as humanly possible, and it would be the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, we do not live in this perfect world. Medical mistakes happen, and the very care that is supposed to heal a patient ends up killing them instead. Cancer and heart disease are missed, causing unnecessary death.

Thankfully, there are things that patients can do to protect themselves. They can be informed and aware of the problems that exist in healthcare industry. They can do research their doctors and care providers to ensure they are being treated by someone who is competent. They can empower themselves and actively participate in the care they receive. The following information can help you do just that.

Understand Your Risk

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersSepsis is a serious, fast-moving, and potentially fatal infection that causes more deaths in America than heart attacks. Even more concerning is a recent analysis done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in which it was found that nearly two-thirds of the 258,000 annual fatalities were missed by doctors and nurses. In some cases, the oversight could be considered a negligent medical error. If you or someone you love has experienced a missed or delayed sepsis diagnosis that resulted in death or injury, know your rights, including your right to pursue compensation.

Sepsis: A Potentially Fatal Medical Emergency

Almost any patient can suffer from a case of sepsis. In fact, one man nearly died from sepsis that occurred after a paper cut. His case was caught quickly, thanks to the hospital’s nationally recognized sepsis prevention and detection plan. He did end up in a medically induced coma for three weeks to give his body time to heal, but the man ultimately made a full recovery.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersDoctors may be mere humans, just like the rest of us but, by default, they are held to a higher standard. We expect them to be rational, honest, and moral human beings. This is not irrational or asking too much. We are entrusting them with our lives, our secrets, the parts of us that are vulnerable. Yet there are far too many who are not worthy of that trust. Worse yet, you – their patient – may never know, and that could put you at risk for a medical injury.

Fit to Practice?

Nearly a decade ago, a Missouri doctor was investigated for healthcare fraud. Found guilty and convicted of a felony, he allegedly charged Medicare insurance for one drug but then injected cheaper, still experimental drugs into the eyes of his patients. Sometimes, he reportedly split the single-dose vials between to separate patients and then billed each one for a full dose. In total, this happened at least 284 times, which amounted to about $600,000 in excess charges to the government.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen it comes to strokes, research indicates that the outcome of a patient can improve by as much as 80 percent if they are given prompt and early treatment. Unfortunately, for anywhere between 15,000 and 165,000 Americans per year, such treatment is not received because they are misdiagnosed - often with a condition that is benign in nature. Women, minorities, and younger patients may be at an especially high risk for this potentially deadly medical mistake.

Risk of Misdiagnosis Higher for Certain Stroke Sufferers

Conducted by Johns Hopkins University, one study found that emergency room doctors are as much as 30 percent more likely to overlook the symptoms of a stroke in women and minorities. That risk jumps even higher for patients under the age of 45 who, though less likely to suffer from stroke, are far from immune (about 34 percent of strokes occur in those under age 65).

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Illinois medical malpractice attorneysMost studies on medical malpractice have been conducted on the treatment received at hospitals, but Americans are most often treated by their primary care doctors. How does the care that they receive here measure up? According to one study, not so great. In fact, as many as 16 percent of all malpractice claims in 2013 were made against general practitioners. The following information highlights what every American should know about their risk of a medical error with their PCP.

Missed Diagnoses and Your PCP

In an analysis of 34 different studies on medical malpractice claims, researchers at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical School and Trinity College Dublin found that missed diagnoses of a serious (and often fatal) condition accounted for 26 to 63 percent of all malpractice claims against primary care providers. Heart attack, meningitis, and cancer were the most commonly missed conditions, but researchers also found cases in which primary care providers has missed fractures, ectopic pregnancies, and appendicitis in their patients. The most common consequence of diagnostic error was patient death (between 15 percent and 48 percent of all claims).

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersMedical malpractice – medical treatment that is substandard to the point of causing harm, death, or injury to a patient – is now the third leading cause of death in the United States. What really constitutes malpractice, though, and do you tell if you have a case? While it is best to discuss your situation with an experienced legal professional, the following information may help you in determining whether or not you have a medical negligence case.

What Constitutes Medical Negligence?

Not every harm or injury sustained while receiving medical treatment can be classified as medical negligence. Hospitals, physicians, and nurses are only considered liable when their actions (or inaction) have caused injury or harm. In other words, the provider needs to have deviated from the standard practice of care (the quality of treatment that a competent doctor would have provided in a similar situation), and it needs to have caused an injury or harm to their patient. For example, if a doctor prescribes the wrong medication to a patient and it results in a severe allergic reaction, the doctor may be considered liable.

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Chicago Illinois medical malpractice lawyersEarlier this year, the BMJ published a frightening and ground-breaking report – medical error, or medical mistakes made during the course of treatment, cause more deaths than traffic accidents, construction accidents, diabetes, and even obesity. In fact, the only cancer and heart disease kill more people each year. Of course, we knew that death caused by medical error was an issue; back in 1998, the Institute of Medicine revealed that as many as 98,000 people died from medical mistakes.

Unfortunately, it would seem that the first report did little to remedy the problem. Now found to be responsible for as many as 251,000 deaths per year – about 700 deaths per day, and around 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States – it would seem that the death toll has been steadily rising by about 15,000 extra deaths each and every year. That should be enough to scare anyone.

Hospitals Talk About Change

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Chicago IL medical malpractice attorneysEach year, more than 200,000 patients die from a preventable medical mistake and as many as four million more experience non-fatal errors that can delay treatment, compromise care, or otherwise put the patient at risk for serious injury or illness. And then there are those who experience willfully malicious acts (such as sexual abuse at the hands of their physician) that may or may not affect treatment or diagnosis but can cause great harm. 

Some incidents may be fairly clear-cut, with substantial evidence indicating negligence or medical malpractice. However, many may lack such evidence and, in some cases, the mistake (or its consequence) may not be immediately evident. For example, a patient who has cancer but is misdiagnosed may not learn until long after the fact. Either way, patients should know when and how to file a complaint against their doctor, should the need arise. 

When to File a Complaint 

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Chicago medical malpractice attorneysSavvy patients might know they need to research their doctor’s history. They may even know where to look. But what they may not realize is that the information provided on bad doctoring practices and the disciplinary actions taken against poor-performing physicians can vary greatly from one state to the next. Consumer Reports and the Informed Patient Institute – both nonprofit organizations dedicated to safety and advocacy – recently examined each state’s medical board website to determine just how complete the information was on the doctors they oversee. Each site was also graded on its ease of use. The results might surprise you. 

Best and Worst State Medical Board Websites 

A good state medical board website will provide patients with clear information regarding whether or not a physician has a complaint pending against them. Other information – such as the nature of that complaint, information indicating a history of drug abuse, and action taken against the physician – should also be included. The site should also be easy to navigate, regardless of whether a patient is looking to file a complaint or simply searching for information about a physician’s disciplinary history. 

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Chicago medical malpractice attorneysThere is a growing problem inside of hospitals, one that most people do not know about and hospitals do not like talking about. It kills more individuals than car accidents, strokes, respiratory disease, diabetes, and suicide. In fact, the only two causes of deaths that trump this issue are cancer and heart disease. This killer is known as the preventable medical error.

Killer Doctors, Nurses, and Hospitals

Most people go to the hospital to get better, but each year, 251,000 U.S. citizens die at the hands of the doctors, nurses, and hospitals that are meant to heal them. It is not because their injuries are too severe to treat, or because they are simply too far gone. In fact, a large majority of these patients walk in with relatively minor problems, but because of substandard care, as many as 700 patients per day will never walk out again.  

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Chicago IL medical malpractice attorneysWhen absolutely necessary, amputations can save lives. Then there are other circumstances - a physician removes the wrong limb, performs an amputation on the wrong patient, or creates the need for amputation by failing to treat a patient in a timely manner.  These situations, along with many others, are considered wrongful amputations. If it has happened to you or someone you love, you may be due compensation. Know your rights and what steps you should take to pursue a claim.

Determining if Your Amputation Was Medically Necessary

Though a part of you was taken, and something feels “off” about the situation, you need evidence of a mistake to pursue a wrongful amputation case. Unfortunately, this can often be difficult to obtain. Even if a nurse, physician, surgeon, or other hospital staff was responsible – maybe by incorrectly inserting an IV catheter, accidentally cutting off circulation to a working limb, or failing to notice a loss of blood flow after a trauma – your amputation may be deemed “medically necessary.” Clues held within your medical records may show otherwise. 

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Former hematologist and oncologist Farid Fata, of Oakland County, Michigan, is serving 45 years in prison as a result of years of fraud and money-laundering. The doctor has faced lawsuits from 43 patients, and has supposedly administered unnecessary treatment to up to 533 patients from his oncology clinic Michigan Hematology Oncology, P.C. Last September, Fata pleaded guilty or no contest to money laundering, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and health care fraud; still, these counts fail to fully encapsulate Fata’s misdeeds.

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medical malpractice, Chicago Illinois personal injury attorneyAccording to recent statistics from Patient Safety America, as many as 440,000 people die from preventable medical mistakes each year. If Stanford University researchers are correct, those deaths were likely caused by just a very small fraction of doctors (about one percent). Even more concerning is that many of those doctors – doctors who have removed wrong body parts, worked while intoxicated, overprescribed medication, and so much more – are allowed to continue practicing medicine, despite their negligent or even willful and wanton actions.

The Hidden Truth

Each state has its own respective licensing board. Comprised mostly of other doctors, these self-governed boards are responsible for the licensing and reprimand of physicians who have made grave mistakes or acted negligently. The problem is that, instead of protecting patients, they seem to protect their own. In fact, only a small percentage of complaints ever lead to a sanction for offending doctors; even if it does, the information does not become a part of public record. And, because many are allowed to continue practicing during that time and have no obligation to tell their patients about any investigations or disciplinary actions against them, the public continues to be placed at risk.

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medical mistakes, doctor malpractice, Chicago personal injury lawyerWhen, in any given city, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of doctors to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one to trust. Most people turn to family or friends for help. Others peruse online reviews and forums. Unfortunately, both methods can put unsuspecting people at risk for serious illness and medical malpractice injury. A recent study provides valuable information how to choose the right doctor and why it matters so much.

Dangerous Doctors and the Damage They Do

Unbeknownst to the general public, there are doctors who are allowed to continue practicing, despite major and sometimes deadly mistakes. Intoxication on the job, removing the wrong body parts during surgery, and physical or sexual abuse are just some of their infractions. Some may be reprimanded through probation or a temporary suspension of their medical license, but after their disciplinary period, many are permitted to return to regular practice. Their patients – who are unable to look up this information because of “privacy rights” – are none the wiser.

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medical negligence, illinois personal injury attorneyState medical boards may be responsible for overseeing the licensing and practice of physicians, but their responsibility, first and foremost, is to the public. Yet, when looking at the large number of doctors who have committed serious acts of abuse or medical negligence and still practicing medicine, it would seem that maybe the licensing boards have forgotten their role.

Doctors Behaving Badly

While studies have shown that only about one percent of all doctors are responsible for the majority of medical mistakes, that small portion has the potential to cause great harm. Their acts – sometimes sheer negligence or incompetence and others outright abuse (even to the point of criminal) – go undisclosed to the public and, in some cases, undisciplined.  Many are permitted to continue practicing, and their patients are usually none the wiser.

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medical malpractice, Chicago personal injury lawyersSince the mid-seventies, tort reformers have put a lot of effort into getting the public to believe that the justice system is broken and that physicians and hospitals are innocent victims who must settle with patients to resolve unfounded claims to avoid ruin. But when you look at the facts, including those recently presented by the Center for Justice & Democracy, it is clear they are anything but. If anything, the evidence indicates that it is patients who are being treated unfairly by the courts.

The Human Impact of Medical Mistakes

Preventable medical errors are now considered to be the third leading cause of death in America, just after heart disease and cancer. Even more patients are seriously injured to the point that their lives are substantially and often irrevocably altered. The problem is so pervasive, in fact, that most Americans will experience a diagnostic error at least once in their life (which is twice as likely to result in death than other medical mistakes), and around half of all surgeries involve an adverse drug event or other medication error.

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