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  • $4,000,000 - Medical Malpractice
    $13,300,000 - Birth Injury Malpractice
    $3,000,000 - Vehicle Accident
    $950,000 - Birth Injury Malpractice
    $925,000 - Malpractice
    $850,000 - Medical Malpractice
    $1,800,000 - Product Liability
  • $4,000,000 - Medical Malpractice
    $13,300,000 - Birth Injury Malpractice
    $3,000,000 - Vehicle Accident
    $950,000 - Birth Injury Malpractice
    $925,000 - Malpractice
    $850,000 - Medical Malpractice
    $1,800,000 - Product Liability
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medical malpracticeDoctors who intentionally misdiagnose patients with conditions they do not have can pose a considerable risk to patient safety and quality of life. The treatments they prescribe are not only unnecessary, they may adversely affect patient health. When a physician deliberately misdiagnoses a patient with an ailment, they are committing fraud that is punishable by prison and fines.

Recently, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved settlements totaling $8 million that will be paid to 40 plaintiffs who filed claims against Farid Fata. Fata was a practicing oncologist who worked in three Michigan hospitals. During his time in these hospitals, he deliberately misdiagnosed his patients with various cancers that they did not have. These patients underwent round after round of chemotherapy which adversely affected their health and quality of life. In the meantime, Fata collected millions of dollars in insurance payments. In 2014, he was found guilty of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy as a result of his crime.

Reimbursement Fraud in Illinois

The ruling comes just a few months after Governor Rauner initiated a task force in Illinois to examine Medicaid fraud. The state currently spends over $19 billion on Medicaid reimbursements. It is estimated that between 8-10% of these reimbursements are fraudulent. These fraudulent requests include both over billing, and billing for services that were not rendered.

Risk to Patient Safety and Health

Physicians who deliberately misdiagnose a patient with an illness intentionally place their patient’s health and safety at risk. In the most serious cases, patients may undergo operations, chemotherapy, or be prescribed medications that can adversely impact their health. These treatments can cause pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of income, drug addiction, and even death.

To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a deliberate misdiagnosis, it is imperative for patients to receive a second opinion whenever a physician recommends a round of treatment for a serious medical condition. Indeed, many cases of deliberate misdiagnosis are uncovered when a second physician examines a patient and determines that no underlying medical condition is present.

Healthcare Fraud has Many Faces

Some physicians view patients as piggy banks. By deliberately misdiagnosing a patient and dreaming up ailments, they can make considerable profits. Recently, the manager of Suburban Home Physicians, Diana Jocelyn Gumila from Streamwood, Illinois utilized her company, Doctor at Home, to diagnose patients as being “homebound.” In turn, she collected nearly $15.6 million in Medicare payments. Gumila directed physicians referring patients to her services to tailor their forms so that it appeared that the physician’s patients were unable to leave their homes.

Moreover, she directed these physicians to identify these patients as requiring complex, lengthy, and ultimately, expensive care and treatment. These physicians placed the health and safety of their patients at risk by recommending them to services and treatment that they did not need. Indeed, they were complicit in Gumila’s scheme and profited from their referrals to her services.

Recourse is Available

Patients who have been deliberately misdiagnosed with medical conditions, or referred to services they do not require can file claims for medical malpractice and medical negligence. Through their Chicago medical malpractice attorney, individuals may seek damages for the pain and suffering and impact to quality of life that deliberate misdiagnosis can create.

wrongful deathMolly’s Law, a new measure that was recently signed by Governor Bruce Rauner, will help Illinois families who are seeking justice in wrongful death cases. Inspired by Molly Young, an Illinois woman who was found dead in 2012 in her ex-boyfriend’s Carbondale home, the legislation extends the statute of limitations in Illinois wrongful death claims and increases the financial penalties for non-compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

Under the previous law in Illinois, surviving families had a mere two years from the time of the victim’s death to file a claim. In the case of Molly Young, the coroner’s jury was unable to determine whether the gunshot wound that caused her death was a result of an accident, suicide or homicide. While the victim’s father, Larry Young, suspected foul play and attempted to obtain police records that would shed more light on the case, his requests were denied. Meanwhile, time ran out for Young to take legal action. The new law, which extends the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits to five years from the date of the victim’s death or one year from the conclusion of the criminal case against the perpetrator, is intended to allow families a more adequate amount of time to evaluate evidence and move forward with a suit if desired. Unfortunately, the law does not include retroactive cases, and Young’s family is unable to pursue a claim.

The second portion of Molly’s Law imposes hefty fines for public bodies that willfully and intentionally fail to comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While Larry Young made numerous attempts to obtain police records from the Carbondale Police Department and the Illinois State Police, it wasn’t until February of 2016 that the Illinois Attorney General’s Office ordered Illinois police to release the information. In denying Young’s requests, Carbondale police and Illinois State Police violated the state’s public records laws. Under the new law, which will go into effect January 1, 2017, the court can impose fines of up to$10,000 for each occurrence, and an additional $1,000 per day when a public body does not comply with orders to turn over documents pertaining to a case within 30 days.

According to Governor Rauner, the extended time period for filing a claim and increased penalties for violating the FOIA will better enable families to obtain justice in such tragic cases.

Depressed Man On BenchDiagnosing a disease is a complicated procedure that involves dozens of variables. Misdiagnoses are always a risk; however, when doctors overlook obvious symptoms, misdiagnosis crosses the line into medical malpractice.

Misdiagnosis Statistics

In a study by Kaiser Health News, researchers discovered a crisis of misdiagnoses in the American healthcare system. Estimates show that up to 20 percent of patients experience a misdiagnosis, but the number may be only a fraction of the problem. Unfortunately, a large percentage of patients who experienced a misdiagnosis see their conditions worsen to cause severe harm or death.

Often when a doctor makes a misdiagnosis, the patient does not seek the help of malpractice lawyers or a second medical opinion. The result is a serious under reporting of misdiagnoses to malpractice lawyers.

The Cost Of Misdiagnosis

A misdiagnosis affects patients on several different levels, and the impact can be felt even after the diagnosis is corrected. Some of the effects include:

Physical And Emotional Strain

Without the correct diagnosis of the patient’s condition, the patient continues to experience pain and discomfort. In addition, patients may be subjected to unnecessary testing and painful procedures to try to discover why treatments are not working.

As time passes without any improvement to the patient’s condition, patients begin to suffer from mental and emotional strain. The stress of the situation increases the risk of spats at home, while the pain of the condition makes it difficult to socialize with friends and family.

Financial Burden

Treating the wrong condition can cost patients thousands of dollars in additional medical expenses. Analysts at the Institute of Medicine believe that misdiagnoses account for up to 30 percent of all healthcare spending, at a total cost of more than $750 billion a year.

In addition, patients struggle to meet their personal financial obligations due to time lost at work. A patient may lose weeks of pay as a result of his or her physical pain and the time needed to visit a doctor for treatment.

For injured patients, there is some relief. Most malpractice lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not collect a fee unless the client receives compensation for the claim. This allows patients to seek the assistance of malpractice lawyers, without the ongoing cost of attorney fees.

By demonstrating that another doctor, with the same set of evidence, would have arrived at the correct diagnosis, malpractice lawyers can seek compensation for clients, and ease the pain of misdiagnosis.

When surgical mistakes cost a patient’s life, a case of wrongful death may be brought against the surgeon, hospital or other healthcare professional. Medical malpractice happens when healthcare providers fail in their responsibility to deliver quality healthcare to their patients. There are many types of medical malpractice that can result in personal injuries or even death. When surgeons fail to deliver the best possible care and make surgical errors that cause wrongful death, families may seek compensation for their loss.

Wrongful death caused by surgical error is classified under personal injury law and is a form of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a situation where a healthcare provider did not follow the normal standards of care, and an injury resulted from this negligence. Hospitals may also be held liable in wrongful death claims. When complications arise during surgery, mistakes can occur such as an error of judgment by the surgeon, an anesthesia mistake or a hospital error. Patients can suffer severe repercussions from surgical mistakes and anesthesia mistakes.

According to the State of Illinois and the Wrongful Death Act, “wrongful death” is defined as a death that is “caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act… [would] have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages” [if death had not occurred]. The law states that the person, company or corporation responsible for the death may be held liable in a lawsuit. In Illinois, families may file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for their loss within one year and up to two years after the surgical procedure that resulted in death. The person filing for a wrongful death case must be the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate. Usually, this is the spouse, the parent (of a minor) or the adult child of the deceased.

The personal representative may seek compensation for funeral expenses and damages for “grief, sorrow and mental suffering” of the family of the deceased (as stated in the Wrongful Death Act). According to the law, this includes only the surviving spouse and children of the deceased. The court determines the amount of damages awarded based on the circumstances and the person’s dependency on the deceased. For Chicago, Illinois families seeking damages in a wrongful death case, a personal injury lawyer may help the personal representative file before the statute of limitations has expired, and help families deal with the grief and financial burden of their loss.

doctor-563428_1280-PixabayRecent studies by Johns Hopkins University show that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., a statistic with details that are underreported by medical professionals. Without proper standards set in place to report medical error, healthcare professionals cannot properly identify and correct problems. This prevents a safe healthcare environment for patients and can lead to injuries and death due to medical error. A personal injury lawyer in Chicago, Illinois can help victims and their families seek damages for medical malpractice or wrongful death cases.

In May 2016, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) presented an open letter to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention asking for standards and regulations to be set in place for reporting medical errors. Currently, there is no place for “medical error” to be reported on a death certificate. By analyzing medical records JHU concluded that 9.7% of deaths in the U.S. (2013) were due to medical error – making it the third leading cause of death. JHU suggests that implementing a reporting system for medical error would help the healthcare industry determine faults and problems within the system and help doctors and hospitals work to create a safer environment for their patients.

As explained by JHU, “death due to medical error” is defined as death from an error in judgment or skill, a diagnostic error, a system defect or a preventable harmful event. Any of these situations that result in injury or death of the patient due to a medical error can be classified as medical malpractice. These cases are brought due to the negligence of nurses, hospitals, physicians, surgeons, obstetricians and other healthcare professionals. In medical malpractice cases, injury or death could have been prevented, which is why JHU suggests an “open dialogue” for discussing medical error that would help future medical professionals avoid dangerous situations.

When personal injury occurs because a healthcare professional strayed from their standards of care, the victim or their family may seek compensation for medical bills, financial stress and emotional damages. Negligence of the healthcare professional or hospital must be proven to receive compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims gather evidence and find expert witnesses to prove a medical malpractice case in Chicago, Illinois. Doctors, hospitals and their medical staff are sworn to uphold their responsibility to provide a safe environment and high quality medical care for patients. Until medical professionals begin correctly reporting medical error and working to solve this large problem in the U.S. healthcare industry, there will continue to be medical malpractice cases in the healthcare world.

shutterstock_111753221-doctor, mom child(2)Many cases of medical malpractice occur because patients are not given the opportunity to approve the treatment their physician chooses to apply. In order to reduce the possibility of serious injury or death, physicians conducting medical treatment on a non-emergency basis in Illinois are required to obtain patient consent prior to commencing medical care.

Illinois Law and Informed Consent

In Illinois, physicians are required to inform patients of the potential risks, complications, and alternative treatments that are available regarding medical care. This is especially important when it comes to surgery as there may be less invasive options available that pose significantly fewer risks.

The more information a physician discloses, the better. This includes answering any questions patients may have regarding a physicians education, training, and experience performing the procedures they are recommending. Physicians must also disclose safety information related to the devices and equipment that will be used to conduct the procedure. While they do not need to guarantee that these will work properly, physicians are required to notify patients of any known safety hazards and risks.

Exceptions to Informed Consent

Physicians are not required to obtain informed consent from patients undergoing emergency medical treatment, such as lifesaving procedures following an automobile accident. In Illinois, the law presumes that the physician will consider all available facts and information prior making a treatment decision on behalf of the patient. However, this does not absolve physicians who abuse this privilege and conduct experimental, or other treatments that present significant known hazards to patient health and safety.

Illinois’ informed consent provisions also cover those who are incapable of making medical decisions on their own behalf. These include children, patients who are mentally ill, or patients who are incapacitated. In these cases, consent must be obtained from the individual’s parent or legal guardian.

Experimental Surgeries are Especially Dangerous

The hottest trend or the latest fad can pose a significant health risk. While medical technology is growing by leaps and bounds, that does not mean that every procedure, every device, and every strategy is effective or safe. Experimental surgeries can cause heart attacks, strokes, brain damage, nerve damage, paralysis, and loss of life.

Physicians treating patients using experimental technology or treatment methods are required to provide patients with information notifying them of the potential risks. When they don’t, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. Such was the case of Dr. Mark Holterman whose experimental treatments led to the permanent injury of a child who will now require life-long care as the result of a botched esophageal operation.

Holding Physicians Liable for Medical Malpractice

Physicians can be held liable for negligence and medical malpractice if they do not properly inform a patient prior to the commencement of a procedure. In cases of gross negligence, patients and their medical malpractice lawyer may also seek a claim for battery if it can be shown that the physicians intent was to take advantage of, or otherwise deliberately harm the patient.

Patients in Illinois do not waive their rights even if the physician has informed them of all the potential risks associated with a medical procedure. Indeed, the law specifically prohibits the use of any language, either verbally or in writing, that would restrict the rights of patients to pursue compensation for any injury that might occur.

surgery-708507_1280-PixabayPreventable medical errors claim the lives of an estimated 251,000 Americans each year according to a recently published study by BMJ. The third leading cause of death in the United States, medical errors result in more fatalities than Alzheimer’s, respiratory disease, strokes, and even accidents.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not require hospitals and other health care treatment facilities to provide reports of medical errors when they collect data about fatalities, and few providers provide the public with information about mistakes, it is very difficult to evaluate the issue at the national level. Many experts believe that a more effective reporting system would shed more light on the reasons these medical errors are occurring, identify patterns of occurrences, and help medical providers avoid such costly mistakes.

At 251,000 deaths annually, medical errors are responsible for an alarming 700 fatalities each day (equal to about 9.5 percent of all fatalities) in the United States. Even more disturbing, however, is the number of medical mistakes that result in significant injuries or illnesses throughout the nation. According to Frederick van Pelt, a doctor who works for the consultancy agency the Chartis Group, some studies estimate the number of medical error-related injuries to be an astounding 40 times higher than the number of deaths. The actual numbers are difficult to measure, however, because patients and their families are often unable to differentiate damages caused by a bad outcome where no negligence occurred from medical malpractice.

The top five causes of death in the United States as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics:

  • With an estimated 614,348 fatalities annually, heart disease continues to rank as the leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Cancer, with approximately 591,699 deaths each year, ranks second.
  • Medical errors account for an estimated 251,454 American deaths every year.
  • With 147,101 deaths each year, respiratory disease ranks fourth.
  • Accidents are the cause of 136,053 fatalities annually in the United States.

Risk Factors for Medical Errors

Even without adequate research to identify the causes of common medical errors that result in injury and death in the United States, a number of risk factors obviously exist that could be improved. Research suggests that focusing on such factors as communication between care providers, more thoroughly discussing procedures with family members, following up on complaints of pain or unexplained symptoms, and ensuring that proper documentation is completed could help reduce the number of medical errors that result in death or serious injury.

room-928653_1280-Pixabay-hospitalCalculating long-term medical expenses is one of the most difficult steps in any personal injury settlement. Estimates that are too low leave families to bear the burden of the injury out of pocket, while defendants fight hard against estimates that are too high. In order to strike a balance, attorneys use a life care plan to predict future medical expenses.

What Is A Life Care Plan?

A life care plan is a thorough examination of a victim’s future medical needs, based on the extent of the injuries, life expectancy, and other factors. Both a personal injury lawyer and the defense seek life care plans from expert medical consultants who perform the estimates and present their findings to the court or the opposition.

Elements Of A Life Care Plan

The plan examines several critical areas that affect the cost of long-term care.

Medication

Prescription drug prices in the United States are some of the highest in the world, and victims with long-term injuries may need medication for months or years. The life care plan extrapolates the victim’s current dosages and estimates the total cost of continuing that level of medication for an agreed period of time.

Doctors also estimate the cost of new drugs that may raise the price of treatment, if the new drug becomes the standard of treatment for a particular condition. In addition, doctors adjust prices lower when generic drugs become available.

Diagnostics And Treatment

For a long-term injury, the victim may need follow up doctor’s appointments, testing, and hospital stays. The experts predict the number of tests and the cost of diagnostics based on prevailing treatment theories at the time. Other doctors contribute their analysis of the future of the field, and suggest the potential cost and availability of new treatments in the future. Often, experts will include provisions for mental health services, as well as medical services.

The life care plan must also account for related illnesses or injuries that may arise as complications from the original injury. For example, a spinal cord injury may cause respiratory or bladder problems that are not yet present in the victim.

Aggressive Treatment Options

Cutting-edge medical treatments can greatly improve the quality of life for someone with a long-term injury; however, the cost of these treatments can far exceed the normal cost of treatment.

The medical expert for a personal injury lawyer may recommend aggressive treatment options that are new enough that there is not yet data on the total cost of treatment for a patient. Through the life care plan process, a victim has the right to propose a plan as ambitious as he or she wants, but the defense has the right to dispute the claims.

Therapeutic Devices

Victims who lose a part of their body usually receive compensation for a prosthetic device in the settlement. Over time, these therapeutic devices need to be upgraded or replaced to meet the needs of the victim. Devices may also include access ramps and accessible bathtubs.

A personal injury lawyer will include estimates for future replacements, factoring in the rising cost of technology and new developments in prosthetics. This portion of the life care plan is especially important for injured children, who may grow out of their device every few years.

A life care plan is an essential part of the settlement a personal injury lawyer seeks, and requires careful examination and attention to detail to secure fair compensation for victims.

Traumatic brain injuries can happen anytime and anywhere – from simple causes like falling to dangerous causes like an assault or gunshot wound – an unexpected blow to the head can cause major medical problems for the victim, changing their life forever. In many cases, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by accidental means like a fall or an unintentional car accident. But sometimes, the cause of a TBI could be intentional or due to negligence on behalf of another party. In cases like these, it is important to reach out to personal injury lawyers or malpractice lawyers to determine if there is a legal case present.

Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the Center for Disease Control, between 2006-2010 the main cause of TBI was falling (around 40%), followed by unknown causes (19%), then unintentional hits to the head (around 16%), car or motor vehicle accidents (over 14%) and lastly assaults (around 11%).

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
TBIs cannot come from an internal problem (like a stroke or lack or oxygen) – to be classified a TBI, something needs to happen directly to the victim. When a TBI occurs, it is classified as a “closed” or “open” injury. Medical personnel will determine the “primary” injury and attempt to prevent any “secondary” injuries to brain. Primary injuries can include fractures, localized brain injuries or axonal injuries. The severity of the TBI will also be determined using the “Glasgow Coma Scale.” Here’s a little more information on these types of TBIs:

  • Closed Head Injury – the damage in a “closed” traumatic brain injury is caused by sudden impact or blunt force to the head. In this case, the skin and/or skull are not penetrated.
  • Open Head Injury – in an “open” head injury, the skin and/or skull are penetrated and the damage can be pinpointed to a specific area (such as a bullet wound).
  • Primary Injury – when a TBI occurs, the primary injury is determine – meaning the injury that happened immediately upon impact to the head (the initial blow). Medical personnel treat the primary injury immediately in order to prevent secondary injuries.
  • {Secondary injuries happen as an effect of the primary injury: loss of blood, oxygen or further brain damage that happens several days after initial injury}
    • Fractures are a type of primary injury, such as skull fractures.
    • Localized injuries occur in a specific area of the brain: bruising or bleeding.
    • Axonal injuries (diffuse axonal injury) affect the neurons in the brain and can cause loss of consciousness.
  • TBI Severity – Once the cause is determined as well as the type of injury, the severity can be measured using the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale measures the depth of coma and/or functionality of the brain.

Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The effects of TBIs can be many, including swelling of the brain or a disruption of neuro-chemicals and functionality. A TBI can also affect the brain’s ability to change and rehabilitate – or, the “plasticity” of the brain. The long-term effects of brain injuries can include seizures, memory loss, behavioral problems and more.

With proper medical treatment and rehabilitation, TBIs can yield a full recovery for many patients. But, there are still many cases that result in permanent, life changing damages. To learn more about the causes of TBIs and whether a TBI case has grounds for a legal suit, contact personal injury or medical malpractice lawyers in the Chicago, Illinois area.

An increase of drivers can be expected on the roads this summer season as gas prices continue to remain at a reasonable level. As more families head out and hit the road for vacations or day trips, they are at increased risk for being in a serious car accident because there are more drivers on the road. This is especially true in highly populated areas, such as Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Consider the Facts

Despite safer cars and safer roads, the Association for Safe International Road Travel estimates that more than 37,000 people will die in the United States from motor vehicle accidents every year. More than 2.35 million will suffer serious or disabling injuries. Children and young adults under 20 are at a high risk with almost 10,000 being killed each year in crashes.

For 2014, the population of Illinois was calculated to be 12,880,580 people. According to data analyzed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, it is estimated that drivers in Illinois drove over 104,906 million miles. During 2014, there were 845 fatal crashes that resulted in 924 deaths. These numbers break down to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 of the state’s population and 0.88 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

Staying Safe This Summer and Throughout the Year

Before hitting the road this summer, drivers are advised to make sure they are proactive in knowing how to reduce their risk of being involved in a deadly crash. The following actions will help reduce the chance of becoming a statistic:

Make sure that the vehicle being driven is in safe working order. Check tires for proper inflation and wear. Replace worn tires if needed because the summer heat can speed up the degradation process.
Inspect brakes for proper operation. This allows the driver to stop and possibly avoid being involved in an accident.
Know the route to be followed and review it before the start of the trip. Be aware of any road work that may cause hazardous road conditions or traffic tie-ups.
Avoid distracted or sleep deprived driving. Texting and using a handheld phone while driving is not only illegal, but it is a leading cause of serious car crashes. Do not drive if overtired and if driving long distances, take frequent breaks.

When an Accident Occurs

The most important thing to do if involved in a car crash is to make sure everyone is safe and receives the medical attention they need. Illinois is considered an at “fault”state. Car accident victims have the right to obtain injury lawyers to file claims against negligent parties. By doing so, they can receive compensation for costs that automobile insurance fails to cover.

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