What is Medical Malpractice?

What is Medical Malpractice?

While many of us are fortunate enough to receive treatment by medical professionals who use the greatest care in creating and executing a treatment plan that suits our specific needs, some are not so fortunate.

In fact, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, negligence on the part of medical professionals is the third leading cause of death in the country.

This is an alarming statistic for those of us who seek medical treatment, even on an irregular basis. Fortunately, negligent or reckless medical personnel can be liable for their conduct if it results in an injury. 

So, if you or a loved one suffered an injury due to medical negligence, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses. 

Medical Malpractice in Illinois 

Medical malpractice claims are a type of lawsuit that is filed against negligent medical professionals, including physicians, surgeons, nurses, and hospitals themselves.

Each state has its own laws that determine how they handle claims and Illinois is no different.

Although many of the standards included in Illinois malpractice law are similar to those in other states, there are also a number of differences, including how long an injured party has to file a claim and what is needed to allow you to file a complaint.

This makes it especially important for medical malpractice victims to speak with an attorney who is extremely knowledgeable in Illinois state law before pursuing a claim.

The Standard of Care in Illinois 

Under Illinois law, a healthcare professional can be held liable for medical malpractice if he or she breaches the standard of care when treating a patient and in doing so, causes injury or death.

The standard of care that is applied is the generally accepted set of practices and standards that other medical professionals in the same locale would use to treat a similar patient.

What qualifies as the standard of care depends on the particular circumstances of a case, including the patient’s age, gender, and health, as well as the particulars of that individual’s condition.

For instance, the standard of care used to treat pneumonia in an elderly patient may be different than the care required in the treatment of an infant with the same condition. 

Or the standard of care at a rural Illinois hospital may be different from the standard of care at a west coast specialty clinic. Whatever the circumstances, violating this standard of care and thereby causing an injury constitutes medical negligence.

The forms of treatment that could support a medical malpractice claim are also wide ranging and include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication to a patient, or prescribing the correct medication, but the wrong dosage;
  • Misdiagnosing a patient as a result of failing to order or conduct proper tests;
  • Failing to take note of a patient’s medical history before beginning a course of treatment;
  • Using improper techniques or tools during a surgical procedure; and
  • Failing to notify patients of the risk of certain methods of treatment. 

As long as there is in fact an injury, and an injured party can establish that this type of conduct led to his or her injury, that individual could be eligible for damages compensating them for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Illinois Statute of Limitations and Damages 

Even when the necessary elements are satisfactory, an injured party will only be eligible for compensation if he or she files a medical malpractice claim before the statute of limitations has passed.

In Illinois, patients have up to two years from the date of their injury to file a claim against a medical professional. For some limited cases, judges may be willing to extend this deadline, but will not permit an injured party to file a claim more than four years after the incident. 

In some other circumstances there may be a period of time shorter than two years so attention to getting advice as early is possible is important.

Injured plaintiffs who file before this deadline has passed and who are able to fulfill all of the elements of a medical malpractice claim could qualify for damages, or a monetary award compensating them for the losses they suffered as a result of the injury.

Damage awards could include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, permanent disability, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. Unlike many states, Illinois does not limit how much an injured patient can recover in either economic damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses, or non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Illinois, does not, however, allow judges to award punitive damages, or damages aimed at punishing a defendant, in medical malpractice cases.

Iowa Medical Malpractice Law 

Like Illinois, Iowa law prohibits medical professionals from deviating from the accepted standard of care in treating a patient. Those who do use a substandard level of care, or a standard below the customary practices for that industry and who cause an injury, can be held liable for their negligent acts or omissions.

This covers a variety of claims, including those based on errors in diagnosis, mistakes in prescribing medications, causing birth injuries to a mother or her child, either during pregnancy or delivery, and using improper or unreasonable treatment methods. 

Under Iowa law, any healthcare or medical professional that causes injury to a patient through his or her negligent actions can be held liable for medical negligence.

This includes both individuals, such as physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, medical technicians, and nurses, as well as entities, including hospitals, private practices, and pharmacies, as long as the entity has a license to provide medical services to patients.

Iowa’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations and Damages Caps 

The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in Iowa is two years from the date of the injury. If, however, a person does not immediately discover the injury, he or she is not necessarily exempt from filing a claim, as Iowa law allows an extension of up to two years from the date of the injury in these cases.

It’s important to note that claims can never be filed more than six years after the negligent act that caused the injury took place.  In some other circumstances there may be a period of time shorter than two years so attention to getting advice as early is possible is important.

Like Illinois law, Iowa law does not place a limit on how much a medical malpractice plaintiff can collect in either economic or non-economic damages.

This also applies to punitive damages, which are awarded in cases where a defendant exhibited malicious or particularly reprehensible behavior. 

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you suffered an injury at the hands of a negligent medical professional in Iowa or Illinois, you need the advice of an experienced attorney.

To speak with one of the dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at VanderGinst Law about how we can assist you with your own claim, please call 800-797-5391 today.