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Beyond Court: Lawyer Helps Train ER DocsBy , Daily North Shore

When trial attorney Christopher Hurley successfully tried a case on a behalf of a family whose wife and mother had died from sustained hypoxia in a hospital emergency room, he could have stored the case file and moved on. Instead, the Winnetka resident decided to address the underlying problem.

During the trial, Hurley realized the emergency room doctors, while well-intentioned, were inadequately trained. It took the doctors a half hour to secure an airway for his client, who was having an asthma attack. Hurley recognized that with proper training the result would have been different for his client and others suffering similar circumstances.

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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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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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doctor medical malpractice, Chicago personal injury lawyerWhen people read the stories about medical mistakes and the resulting malpractice claims, they often begin to wonder if their own physician might be capable or responsible enough to care for them in a life or death situation. Many also begin to fear the idea of going to an unknown doctor. However, studies suggest that, while the vetting of a physician is certainly warranted and necessary, most patients are probably relatively safe; it is just a small portion of physicians that patients should be wary of.

One Percent of Doctors Linked to One-Third of All Malpractice Claims

Although they may not provide a complete and definitive guideline on just how many (or which) doctors are making the most mistakes, malpractice cases do give quite a bit of insight. As such, researchers at Stanford examined the information on more than 66,000 paid malpractice claims paid against 54,000 physicians nationwide between 2005 and 2014. Nearly one-third of those claims could be linked to just one percent of all doctors.

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avoidable medical errors, Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen people get sick, they visit their doctor to get better. When they are critically ill, they go to a hospital for treatment. But are doctors actually doing more harm than good? Evidence from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety would certainly suggest as much. Published nearly two decades after the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) concerning report, To Err is Human, this new study indicates that people are not just dying by the very hands that are supposed to heal them; they are dying in significantly higher numbers than previously thought.

Preventable Deaths Now Third Leading Cause of Death

Using medical studies that were published between 2008 and 2011, researchers with Patient Safety America examined the occurrence of five commonly made medical mistakes: diagnostic errors, errors of commission, errors of context, errors of omission, and errors of communication. Overall, these mistakes caused as many as 440,000 deaths each and every year. That makes it the third leading cause of death in America, placing it beneath only heart disease and cancer.

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wrongful death, Illinois medical malpractice lawyersWhen a patient steps into a hospital or doctor’s office, they are trusting that provider to act responsibly. Unfortunately, recent information indicates that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 people die each year from preventable causes while under the care of a physician. A 49-year-old woman who visited the St. James Hospital of Olympia Fields in 2006 tragically met this very fate while visiting the hospital’s emergency room. With the aid of attorneys Christopher T. Hurley and Mark R. McKenna of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., the Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of her family, and approved of a jury’s award of  $4.7 million as compensation.

Case Details: Failure to Act Quickly during an Asthma Attack Leads to Brain Death

According to court documents, the woman was transported to the hospital by a Matteson Fire Department ambulance. Suffering from a severe asthma attack, she was grasping at her throat and unable to speak upon her arrival. Trial evidence showed it took at least seven minutes to be seen by an emergency department physician. By that time, she had begun to lose consciousness, so the attending physician reportedly told a resident physician to intubate.

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physician error, Illinois medical malpractice lawyerIt is true: Physicians are only human, but they also have the unique responsibility of protecting and saving lives. They went through years of intensive schooling, were required to show they were proficient in both knowledge and skills, and they vowed to uphold a specific set of standards. Unfortunately, there are physicians who, for whatever reason, commit medical malpractice by failing to fulfill their responsibility. Sadly, it is always patients who pay the price.

Physician Faces Lawsuits from Nearly 300 Patients

After 30 years of practicing medicine, a cardiologist in the Midwest is facing nearly 300 lawsuits from former patients. They all claim that to be victims of unnecessary procedures, all of which were performed by the physician or his colleagues. Though still in the early phases of litigation, the buzz surrounding the case has left many feeling wary of medical professionals, and angry that their health had been taken so lightly by someone who had vowed to protect it.

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recorded surgeries, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerMedical errors can have catastrophic, and sometimes deadly consequences. For those affected by such errors, the medical malpractice lawsuits that often follow can be complex, stressful, and lengthy. During that time, the injured or the family of the deceased must bear the weight of financial burdens caused by the death or injury. But what if it were possible to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, if a death or injury had been the result of an unpreventable complication, or if it had been caused by negligence?

The University of Toronto has already created a device that could do all of this, and more.

University of Toronto Device Spurs Bills in Wisconsin and New York

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tort reform, Chicago medical malpractice attorneyTort reform laws put limits on the amount of compensation a victim of medical malpractice can receive. Tort reform does not favor victims; rather it favors negligent hospitals, doctors, and companies. The victims of medical malpractice should be able to get fair compensation as determined by a jury of peers, not what lawmakers, insurers and companies believe victims should receive.

Recently medical malpractice victims’ family members testified before Illinois lawmakers about how their lives had changed because of mistakes made by doctors and other medical professionals. The family members talked about how an arbitrary cap on awards for victims and their families limit and impact their lives.

Those who testified before Illinois legislators ranged from widows of Illinois State Troopers to mothers speaking for their children to the victims of medical malpractice who relived their tragedy. Those who spoke before the lawmakers took a stand because they have fought for themselves or someone they cared about for the justice they deserve. The compensation some received from their medical malpractice suits will take care of their injured family members’ medical and living expenses.

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Chicago medical device recall lawyerPatients rely on hospitals to ensure that safety protocols and education for medical staff are current and privy to any changes regarding medical device recalls. For over 45 years, ECRI has helped in this effort by focusing on improved patient care by studying the effectiveness of medical products, procedures, and processes. Based on an article published by Modern Healthcare, ECRI experts reveal certain hospitals are failing to update their medical device recall programs to meet today’s standards.

Over 1,000 medical device recalls were reported by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, a figure almost doubling the number reported nearly a decade previous. The number and complexity of recalls have increased over the years, which carries concerns regarding hospital efficiency in tracking its defective products.

A Medical Equipment Management Plan issued by the Joint Commission has issued standards for hospitals to:

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