Were You Injured by a Healthcare Provider? Birth Injury to Your Child? Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Springfield for Help
We expect healthcare providers to help us when we are sick, injured, or in need of medical assistance. For the most part, medical providers do a great job at diagnosing, treating, and otherwise caring for us and our loved ones. However, the experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Springfield, Illinois at the Noll Law Office know that there are far too many instances where a healthcare provider’s preventable errors cause unnecessary harm to innocent people and their loved ones. In fact, some statistics indicate that preventable medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. In a private survey, roughly 55% of physicians admitted to being sued at least once in their careers. As a result, medical malpractice accounts for more than $55 billion in annual healthcare costs in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these claims are to a fetus, neonate, infant, or child, sometimes resulting in horrific and life-changing birth injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered any type of unexpected outcome or injury, or if a loved one passed away after a medical procedure or other treatment, call the Noll Law Office for help. Medical malpractice cases are very complicated and often require a medical expert to evaluate and determine whether there may have been a preventable error. Thus, do not try to investigate or research on your own whether you may or may not have a medical malpractice claim.
Rather, trust the fifth-generation lawyers at the Noll Law Office to conduct a free case evaluation to determine whether you may have a case. They offer dedicated and compassionate legal care to their clients and families, while also providing zealous advocacy against defense lawyers and insurance adjusters who are protecting dangerous healthcare providers. To learn more about your rights under Illinois law, contact the Noll Law Office today.
Why are Medical Malpractice Cases and Birth Injury Cases Different?
Unlike a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or another type of personal injury case, medical malpractice cases are significantly more complex for multiple reasons. Initially, not all personal injury lawyers can handle medical malpractice cases. They require a great deal of knowledge of both the law and medicine. This often means that a victim’s lawyer will need to know both the law better than the other lawyer, and the treatment better than the defendant or the defendant’s experts. As such, victims need to hire a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Medical malpractice cases are also different because they require expert testimony. That is, before a victim may even file a medical malpractice case, in most instances a medical provider must review the claim and agree that there is merit to it. This takes added time and expense for a victim to file a claim, whereas a defendant – being a medical provider – already has an expert (himself or herself). Thus, victims start in this disadvantaged position.
Furthermore, medical malpractice claims often result in catastrophic harm. Damage to a person’s body, especially in a birth injury case, can be life-changing and life-threatening. Victims of medical malpractice can face the ramifications of medical errors for years and decades later.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury case, and refers to the negligence of a health care professional. Medical negligence may include an act (i.e., the slip of a scalpel during surgery) or a negligent omission (i.e., failure to diagnose cancer). The negligence of a healthcare provider must result in some type of harm or damage to a victim.
Nearly all medical providers may be liable for medical malpractice in Illinois. There are some exceptions that may apply in certain instances, but any claim against a healthcare provider should be reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Springfield. Some of the most common individuals who may be liable for medical malpractice include the following:
- Physicians or doctors
- Physician assistants
- Physical therapists
- Nurse practitioners
- Respiratory therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Dental hygienists
- Residents or internists (first year out of medical school) in certain circumstances, particularly where a resident or internists exercise their own medical judgment against a supervising physician
- CRNAs or anesthesiologists
- Doctor offices
- Out-patient facilities
- Urgent cares
- Surgical locations
- Physician groups, and
- Other healthcare providers exercising medical judgment or rendering medical care.
What are Some Common Examples of Medical Malpractice in Illinois?
There are many different types of medical malpractice. Oftentimes there will be medical malpractice against multiple entities in one case. This includes a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a hospital (operating room owner), the practice group/office, nurses, and other healthcare providers who assisted with the procedure or treatment. In fact, oftentimes there are many liable parties in a medical malpractice case – some of who a victim may not even know are potentially liable.
Some common examples of medical malpractice in Illinois include the following:
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Delay in performing a C-section
- Misdiagnosed cancer as something else
- Failure to properly intubate a patient for a procedure
- Delay in treatment
- Premature discharge of a patient from a hospital or recovery area (i.e., PACU or post-partum)
- Failure to properly assess a patient’s injuries or symptoms
- Failure to diagnose a stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, or another condition
- Misuse of forceps during a delivery
- Wrong site surgery
- Radiologist malpractice including failure to read test results correctly
- Wrong patient surgery
- Foreign object(s) left inside a patient
- Burn injuries or surgical fires
- Failing to perform the correct diagnostic test
- Medication overdose
- Failure to assess and treat a patient as a fall risk
- Prescription errors
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Excessive use of Pitocin during the labor and delivery process
- Hospital-acquired infections (HAI)
- Injection errors or IV injuries (including nerve blocks)
- Delay in resuscitating
- Unnecessary surgeries including unnecessary amputations
- Failure to transfer or delay in transferring a patient to a higher trauma center, and
- Other types of serious instances of medical malpractice in Illinois that the experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Springfield at the Noll Law Office can evaluate and determine whether there is a case.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Illinois: The Necessary Elements
Generally, there are four elements of medical malpractice that must be proven in order to have a successful medical malpractice claim in Illinois. There may be some instances where these elements could be proven through other means, such as a lack of informed consent constituting the violation of two elements. But that is the exception to the rule and not the norm.
As result, victims of medical malpractice must demonstrate each of these elements are the following:
Element 1: Duty of Care or the Standard of Care
A healthcare provider must have a duty of care to a patient. The duty of care for a healthcare provider is measured by what a reasonably prudent healthcare provider would have done in similar circumstances, in a similar locality, and with similar training and experience. In a medical malpractice context, this is more appropriately known as the standard of care.
This standard is flexible, but it has some important hallmarks. First, it holds that a healthcare provider will be measured against what another healthcare provider of the same type would have done. Thus, a nurse will not be held to the standard of what a doctor would have done, but what another nurse would have done. It also means that an OB-GYN will be held to the standard of another OB-GYN in assessing a birth injury case involving a brain injury, and not to the standard of a neonatal brain surgeon or neurologist.
Second, the standard looks at the same circumstances in which the treatment was rendered. Thus, a healthcare provider who was performing a routine, scheduled surgery in a calm and controlled setting will not be able to use the usually lower standard that a healthcare provider might use in a frantic, emergency situation with only minutes to act.
This is often one of the most hotly contested elements and where experts are required to establish what the applicable standard of care was under the circumstances of the case.
Element 2: Breach of that Duty or a Deviation from the Standard of Care
A healthcare provider must have breached that duty of care established under element one, which is the element that is often hotly contested. In a medical malpractice or birth injury context, a breach of that duty of care is a deviation from the standard of care.
What this means is that the defendant deviated from what a reasonably prudent healthcare provider would have done. That breach could be minor or it could be significant, but as long as it occurred, that is all that matters in establishing this element.
Element 3: Causation
Also known as a proximate cause or a substantial factor, causation is the legal term that means that a defendant’s breach of their duty or deviation from the standard of care was the cause of the victim’s damages. That means that it was reasonably foreseeable that a defendant’s wrongful action or inaction would cause injury to a victim.
Sometimes there is what is called “but for” causation, which is usually in addressing whether they may be causation but the legal test is often more complicated. The concept of “but for” causation is simply whether the victim would have suffered such damages “but for” the defendant’s failure. This simplified test is applicable in some medical malpractice or birth injury applications, but not always. However, it is a good litmus test.
Element 4: Damages or Injury
There must also be “damages” to a victim. The term “damages” is a legal concept for what relief a party to a lawsuit may obtain. In a personal injuries action like a medical malpractice case or a birth injury case, damages are typically awarded as monetary compensation. A victim will successfully prove this element by establishing that a defendant’s deviation from the standard of care caused any or all of the following damages:
- Past pain and suffering
- Future pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional damages
- Medication costs
- The need for medical devices or ambulatory assistance devices
- Future surgeries or procedures
- Wrongful death, and
- Any other type of harm to a patient and their family that an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Springfield, Illinois such as those at the Noll Law Office may help recover.
What is a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries are a type of personal injury and medical malpractice claim, but their scope is narrower. A birth injury is any injury that occurs just before delivery, during delivery, or shortly after delivery. While not all birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice, oftentimes birth injuries are preventable. Unfortunately, far too often birth injuries can have long-term, permanent, or fatal consequences.
There are many different types of birth injuries that can occur due to medical malpractice. Some of the most common birth injuries include the following:
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that affects movement, posture, and balance. This disorder most often occurs when there is a loss of oxygen shortly before birth, during delivery, or just after birth. The loss of oxygen results in brain damage. Oftentimes, children with cerebral palsy also have impairment in cognition as a secondary result of the loss of oxygen.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
This is another very common birth injury. Brachial plexus injuries occur when there is pulling, stretching, or separation of the network of nerves that originate in the spine and go through the neck, arm, and fingertips. These injuries may be temporary or permanent, depending on the degree of injury. This type of injury often occurs when there is excessing pulling or tugging on the newborn’s neck, head, or shoulders during delivery.
Improper use of extraction tools or use of excessive force can also lead to a brachial plexus injury. Brachial plexus injuries often cause an impairment in movement, sensation, and function. In severe cases, brachial plexus injuries can lead to a physical deformity. Examples of common types of brachial plexus injuries include Erb’s palsy, neuroma, avulsion, neuropraxia, Horner syndrome, global palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Also known as HIE, this is perhaps one of the most devastating types of birth injuries and is caused by prolonged deprivation of oxygen just before birth, during delivery, or just after birth. Failure to intervene when a complication occurs (i.e., fetal distress), failure to perform a c-section in a timely manner, or failure to identify a complication can lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. While there are some treatments for HIE (i.e., cooling therapy), they must be performed within 6 hours after birth. Failure to do so will result in permanent brain damage.
The most common type of fracture that can occur during the labor and delivery process is a fracture of the clavicle. This very painful type of fracture occurs when a medical provider has difficulty delivering the baby, leading to the use of excessive force or abnormal movements to deliver the baby. Signs of a fractured clavicle include lack of movement of the arm or shoulder on the affected side, a lump that may occur on the shoulder after a period of time, or pain.
While jaundice commonly occurs within the first 24-48 hours after birth, medical professionals have a duty to check a bilirubin level to ensure that it is not elevated, and adequate monitoring should be continued if an elevated level is identified or if the newborn is exhibiting symptoms of jaundice. Failure to intervene with supplemental nutrition or phototherapy can result in kernicterus. Kernicterus is caused by a build-up of bilirubin in the brain, leading to permanent brain damage. Jaundice should never lead to kernicterus.
Intrauterine Fetal Demise (IUFD), Stillbirth, or Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is perhaps the worst type of birth injury that can occur due to medical malpractice. There are many causes of these complications, with some causes including failure to recognize and intervene when fetal distress is identified, failure to perform an emergency or schedule c-section in a timely manner, failure to identify a maternal complication that can lead to fetal death, or many other negligent acts that can lead to the death of a newborn.
There are also many other types of birth injuries that may result in serious personal injuries or harm to an infant. These injuries often result in permanent and life-changing harm, and should always be evaluated by an experienced birth injury lawyer in Springfield.
Did You or a Loved One Experience Harm From a Healthcare Provider in Illinois? Was a Child Harmed by a Birth Injury in Illinois? Call the Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Springfield at the Noll Law Office for Help
Medical malpractice cases are very difficult types of personal injury cases. They require an experienced and compassionate medical malpractice lawyer and a bodily injury law firm to handle them. If you or a loved one suffered any type of serious, permanent, disabling, or life-threatening injury from a medical provider, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed due to a medical mistake, call the Noll Law Office for help.
Their experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Springfield can help victims and their families recover compensation for their injuries caused by a negligent healthcare provider’s negligence. To learn more about your rights and how the Noll Law Office can help you, contact them today to schedule a FREE consultation.