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Will County birth injury attorneysIf you are a parent of a child who was injured or who died during birth, you may be desperate for answers. Birth injuries typically include injuries that an infant suffers in utero, during labor and delivery, or shortly after being born. Minor birth injuries such as scrapes or bruises clear up in a few days and do not affect the infant long-term. Other birth injuries lead to life-long disabilities and medical complications. While some birth injuries are unavoidable, others are the direct result of medical negligence. When determining whether a birth injury was caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of a medical professional, courts use the “applicable standard of care.”

Medical Mistakes and Birth Injuries

Medical professionals are human. They make mistakes. However, physicians and other medical professionals are held to a very high standard when it comes to patient care. If a medical mistake is egregious or results in preventable harm to a patient, the mistake may not be excusable. Many parents of children who have suffered or passed away because of a birth injury wonder if the doctor or the medical facility at which their child was born is to blame. The answer to this question is often hard to determine. Medical malpractice attorneys gather evidence from a range of sources when investigating suspected or alleged malpractice. They often consult with medical experts to determine if a doctor or hospital’s conduct deviated from the norm.

Components of a Medical Malpractice Claim

There are four components to a medical malpractice claim:

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Medication Errors During Labor and Delivery Can Cause Catastrophic Birth InjuriesPharmacological advances have made pregnancy, labor, and delivery safer and less painful than in decades past. Unfortunately, the risks associated with certain medications are not always fully understood. Improper use of medications can cause serious injury or even death to a mother or an infant. If a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence results in a preventable birth injury, the victim or the victim’s surviving loved ones may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Compensation for past medical bills, future medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages may be available.

Medication Mistakes That Often Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims

Any patient can suffer injury or death from mistakes involving medications or medical procedures; however, pregnant women are especially vulnerable to medical mistakes. The birth process is already very hard on a woman’s body. When doctors and other medical staff do not uphold their duty to provide competent medical care, they put the woman’s life and the life of her unborn child in danger. One of the most egregious types of medical negligence occurs when a pregnant woman is given the wrong type of medication. Doctors, nurses, or other staff may misread the medication label or otherwise become confused and administer the wrong drug. Another serious error occurs when a woman is given an inaccurate dose of a medication.  

Medication Errors Involving Pitocin

When labor is not progressing normally, an infant can be at risk of asphyxia and other dangerous conditions. Consequently, a doctor may choose to use medications to expedite the birth. A synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin is sometimes used to accelerate delivery despite the risks associated with this drug. This medication, often referred to by the brand names Pitocin and Syntocinon, makes the mother’s uterus contract. There is significant debate as to the effectiveness and safety of this medication. If Pitocin is administered incorrectly or at an excessive dose, the mother’s contractions may become too intense and cause a detached placenta or “placental abruption.” If the placenta becomes partially or fully separated from the uterus, the infant will be deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This could lead to fetal brain injuries, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), fetal stroke, stillbirth, and maternal hemorrhaging.

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When Is Delayed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?Doctors are required to complete rigorous degree programs and training before becoming licensed physicians. They learn about the signs and symptoms of countless medical conditions so they can diagnose these conditions and provide the necessary treatment. However, doctors are not always able to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s health concerns. It may take dozens of diagnostic tests and procedures before the person has an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, doctors and specialists are not able to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms. While not every diagnostic mistake is the result of negligence, there are some situations in which a doctor’s failure to make a timely and accurate diagnosis is considered medical malpractice.  

Doctors Have a Duty to Provide Reasonably Skilled Medical Care

Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal obligation to provide reasonably proficient medical treatment. They are not expected to be perfect, but they are expected to be competent. The question of whether or not a diagnostic mistake is flagrant enough to be considered malpractice is often very difficult to answer. Medical malpractice attorneys have a variety of tools and resources at their disposal that are used to investigate doctors’ actions and inaction and determine if malpractice occurred. To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, a medical malpractice attorney must prove that:

  • A doctor-patient relationship was established.
  • The doctor provided treatment that did not meet the medical standard of care
  • The doctor’s failure to provide quality care caused the patient harm
  • The patient suffered damages as a result of this harm

The standard of medical care is a hypothetical measuring stick used to determine if a doctor’s actions deviated from what a typical doctor of similar status would have done under similar circumstances. Expert testimony from respected medical professionals is often used during a medical malpractice lawsuit to shed light on the reasonableness of a doctor’s actions.

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Can I Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim Against My Chiropractor?Chiropractic medicine primarily concerns the diagnosis and treatment of disorders involving the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors may use a variety of techniques including manual manipulation of the spine and soft tissues to relieve pain, restore mobility, and promote wellness. This particular field of medicine is often the subject of controversy and debate. Some people swear by the relief chiropractic treatment gives them while others believe the practice to be little more than pseudoscience. If you or a loved one were injured by a chiropractor, you may wonder whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Injuries That May Be Caused by Negligent Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic treatment often involves the chiropractor using his or her hands or instruments to apply force to joints and muscle tissue. These treatments, called “adjustments,” are typically intended to relieve back pain and stiffness, neck pain, headaches, and other physical ailments. However, some patients find that chiropractic care actually worsens their conditions or creates new health problems. In fact, one study suggested 30 to 61 percent of all chiropractic patients experience some type of adverse effects from the treatment. Chiropractic adjustment may cause problems including but not limited to:

  • Vertebral artery dissection that can lead to a stroke
  • Herniated disc or worsening of an existing herniated disc
  • Compression of the nerves in the lower spine (cauda equina syndrome)

When is a Chiropractor Liable for a Patient’s Injury?

Although they are not medical doctors, chiropractors still have a legal obligation to provide competent medical treatment to patients. Most medical malpractice claims are based upon professional negligence. A chiropractor may be considered negligent if he or she:

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Erb’s Palsy Is Sometimes the Result of Medical NegligenceThe birth of a child is a joyous occasion, but for some parents, this joy is tarnished by a birth injury. Injuries to a baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery may result in serious health concerns for both the mother and the child. In some cases, birth injuries cause a child to suffer from health concerns for the rest of his or her life. Erb’s Palsy is a condition that most often results from injury to a baby’s brachial plexus nerves during birth. A baby suffering from Erb’s Palsy may experience weakness, loss of feeling, and partial or total paralysis of the arm. He or she may need several surgeries and years of physical therapy to reduce the harm caused by the injury.

Causes of Erb’s Palsy

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that allows movement of the arms, shoulders, and hands. Damage to these nerves can be caused by any type of trauma, however, most brachial plexus injuries are the result of injury during birth. Often, this nerve damage occurs as a result of attempts to move the baby through the birth canal. A condition called shoulder dystocia can occur if the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged on the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. This is a very dangerous condition because it may deprive the baby of oxygen and cause brain damage or death. Consequently, doctors must work quickly to fix the condition and allow the baby to exit the birth canal. Some brachial plexus injuries occur when a doctor uses force to pull the baby through the birth canal and the baby’s neck is stretched to the point of injury. Other times, the use of vacuum extraction or forceps during birth causes an infant to suffer from a brachial plexus injury.

Receiving Compensation for Your Damages

Erb’s Palsy is often preventable. If a doctor acts negligently during an infant’s birth and this negligence causes the child to suffer from Erb’s Palsy, the doctor or the medical facility at which the child was born may be liable for the injury. Medical negligence typically involves the doctor deviating from the accepted medical standard of care. This standard of care refers to the proficiency of care that would be reasonably expected of someone with comparable medical training and experience in a similar situation.  

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When is a Doctor or Hospital Legally Responsible for a Child Developing Cerebral Palsy?Cerebral palsy is a disorder caused by the atypical development of a child’s brain often stemming from brain injury or infection. Children with cerebral palsy typically experience loss of muscle control, reduced muscle tone, impaired movement, lack of balance and coordination, involuntary movements, eye problems, and other serious symptoms. Research into the many causes of cerebral palsy is still ongoing, but in some cases, cerebral palsy is a direct result of a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence during the child’s birth. If your child has cerebral palsy, you may question whether or not medical malpractice played a role in your child’s development of this disorder.

Understanding the Medical Standard of Care

There are typically four elements needed to establish medical malpractice. Firstly, the doctor must have owned the patient a duty of care. This means that a doctor-patient relationship existed so the doctor had a duty to provide medical care to the patient. Secondly, the doctor deviated from the “medical standard of care.” The standard of care refers to the level of care that a competent doctor of similar experience and training would have provided under similar circumstances. Thirdly, the doctor’s failure to meet the medical standard of care caused the patient’s injury. Lastly, the injury led to damages such as additional medical expenses or pain and suffering.

Examples of Medical Malpractice That Can Cause Cerebral Palsy

There are countless things that can go wrong during a pregnancy or birth. This is why doctors must receive such a great deal of education and training before becoming a certified physician. If a doctor or other medical professional did not appropriately treat a medical condition during pregnancy or birth, he or she may be liable for the harm done to a child. In some situations, the liable party is the hospital as a whole. Examples of medical malpractice that often lead to the development of cerebral palsy include but are not limited to:

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When is a Doctor or Medical Facility Liable for an Infant’s Death?The birth of a child should be one of the greatest days of a person’s life. However, when something goes wrong during the birth and the infant passes away, it can become the worst day of the parents’ lives. Losing a child under any circumstances is heartbreaking, but when that death could have been prevented, the heartbreak is even more excruciating. If medical negligence contributed to the death of an infant, the parents may bring a medical malpractice claim against the medical staff or the facility itself.

Who Is at Fault for the Death?

Sadly, sometimes a baby dies during or shortly after birth and there is nothing that could have been done to save him or her. Not every infant death is the result of medical negligence or wrongdoing. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or other medical professional does not fulfill his or her “duty of care.” Medical staff members have a legal obligation to provide competent medical attention that meets the “medical standard of care.” This standard of care is defined as the level of care that a reasonably skilled medical professional of similar education and training would have provided in similar circumstances. For example, consider a scenario in which an infant passes away because the delivering doctor failed to address the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. If a reasonably competent doctor of similar training would have noticed the problem with the umbilical cord and taken different steps to save the infant’s life, this may mean medical negligence has occurred.

Collecting Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case Involving Wrongful Death

If medical negligence leads to the death of a baby, a wrongful death lawsuit may help the parents receive compensation. The parents may be able to receive compensation for:

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Common Birth Injuries That Can Be Caused by Medical NegligenceGiving birth to a child is one of the most miraculous experiences that a person can have. Sadly, some births do not go as planned. Research shows that about seven out of every 1000 births results in a birth injury. Some of these birth injuries are unavoidable. Others, however, are the result of negligence or wrongdoing by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional. When medical malpractice causes an infant to be seriously injured, the results can be devastating.

Babies With Certain Risk Factors Are Most Likely to Be Injured During Birth

Infants are more likely to be injured during birth when medical devices such as a vacuum extractor or forceps are used. Some of these injuries are only superficial cuts and bruises but others, such as intracranial hemorrhages, can cause serious, long-term damage. Babies are also more likely to suffer injury if they:

  • Are born prematurely
  • Are very large
  • Have a breech presentation
  • Experience excessive traction or rotation during delivery

However, birth injuries can still occur even when no risk factors are present.

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Orland Park birth injuries attorneysThe main concern with every birth is getting the baby out safely, but the mother’s health also must be observed carefully. According to a recent report by USA Today, the preventable deaths of mothers during childbirth are on the rise in the country.

The report notes that one of the main causes of mothers’ deaths is hemorrhaging, or rapid blood loss that would go untreated by the hospital staff. Of these cases, 90 percent were avoidable, according to report, which means they could provide the basis for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Frightening Numbers

The report concluded that approximately 700 mothers die in childbirth a year across the country (15 per 10,000 births in Illinois from 2012-16), and at least half of them could have been saved if the mothers had been given better attention. These numbers are rising from year to year while other countries continue to reduce the death rate of mothers.

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Will County medical malpractice lawyerWhen you go to a doctor or other medical professional, you hope that they will be able to accurately diagnosis and treat your aliment. An inaccurate diagnosis can result in a sick patient not getting essential treatment or receiving unneeded medical treatment which worsens their condition.

While no medical professional is perfect, there are some instances of misdiagnosis which are so egregious they are considered medical negligence. If you suffered due to a misdiagnosis or a loved one passed away because of complications related to a misdiagnosis, you may have a valid personal injury claim.

What Makes a Misdiagnosis an Example of Medical Malpractice?

Doctors, nurses, specialists, and other medical professionals cannot always immediately know what is wrong with a patient. The human body is unbelievably complex, and it is understandable that a doctor may consider several diagnoses before arriving at a conclusion. A diagnostic mistake by itself is therefore not enough to sustain a medical negligence claim. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, patients must prove the following:

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Cook County medical malpractice lawyer anesthesiology error injurySurgery with anesthesia always poses some risks to the patient. Many patients choose to proceed with a surgery even after being informed of the risk that the surgery might not have the desired results, because the consequences of not having the surgery are equally dire. Injuries and deaths can happen even when the surgical team does everything right according to current medical standards and best practices. Thus, not every injury resulting from a surgical procedure can be claimed as medical malpractice. However, if you or a loved one have suffered a significant personal injury or wrongful death with substantial financial damages as the result of medical incompetence or negligence during a surgery with anesthesia, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Risk Factors for Surgery with Anesthesia

Certain health factors can increase the risks of anesthesia, including:

  • Obesity can make it harder to determine the correct dosage of anesthetic to administer and to ensure that a patient receives enough oxygen.
  • Age-related conditions such as cardiac disease, prior stroke, clogged arteries, and high blood pressure can increase the risk of complications during surgery.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea and other conditions that affect breathing can cause a dangerous loss of oxygen during surgery, which could result in brain damage or death.

Prior to any surgery, your surgeon and anesthesiologist should conduct a careful assessment of your health to identify specific risks and ways to mitigate those risks. If the surgical team fails to account for all relevant health conditions when planning and performing the surgery, you could have a valid claim for compensation for damages incurred.

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Orland Park birth injury attorney medical expertWhen a hospital or birth center fails to adhere to obstetric standards of care, a baby can suffer severe birth injuries. One health professional’s negligence, or a combination of medical mistakes, can cause irreparable harm to both the child and mother.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit may be far from the minds of grieving parents. However, it is crucial to begin the evidence-gathering process as soon as possible after an infant death or injury, because memories quickly fade, and important evidence could be lost. While you have up to eight years to file a birth injury claim in Illinois, it takes months to gather the necessary evidence and prepare to file a claim.  

Medical Records Review and Analysis

Medical errors, particularly a failure to recognize danger signs, can happen at any time before, during, or after labor and delivery. Therefore, your lawyer’s first job will be to obtain complete medical records for both mother and baby. These records will be the most important factor in your case. 

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Cook County chiropractor injury attorneyWhen you think about suing a doctor for medical malpractice, the specialties that first come to mind are probably surgeons, obstetricians, or other medical providers. However, any state-licensed medical or “healing arts” professional, including chiropractors, naprapaths, acupuncturists, and nurse-anesthetists, can be sued for negligence resulting in serious injury to a patient 

Examples of Chiropractic Malpractice

Because chiropractors often manipulate or adjust the spine and neck, it is possible for a patient’s existing injuries to be made significantly worse or even for new injuries to occur. Examples of malpractice by a chiropractor include:

  • Failure to obtain a thorough patient history and perform a proper examination prior to treatment, resulting in a treatment inappropriate given the patient’s pre-existing conditions that causes serious additional injury to the patient.
  • Negligence in performing manipulations, such as using too much force, which can result in a herniated disk, nerve damage leading to paralysis, or arterial damage leading to stroke.
  • Misdiagnosis of the cause of pain, resulting in delayed treatment of the patient for the true problem. 

Examples of Acupuncture Risks and Practitioner Negligence 

Negligence in the practice of acupuncture can lead to serious injury or even death. Three common ways that an acupuncturist might be found negligent include:

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Oak Lawn medical malpractice lawyer prescription drug errorMedication side effects are a leading cause of injury and death in children, leading to roughly 200,000 emergency room visits per year. However, before you accuse your child’s physician of medical malpractice, remember that you play an important role in helping to avoid medication errors that could hurt your child.

14.7 Million U.S. Children Are at Risk for Medication Errors

A recent study reported that 20 percent of U.S. children take at least one prescription medication, putting them at risk for dangerous side effects. The more medications a child takes, the greater the risk of drug interactions and adverse events. An estimated 5 percent of all U.S. children regularly take two or more prescription drugs, and roughly 8 percent of them are at risk for major drug interactions that could have serious side effects. 

Teens on Antidepressants Have Greatest Risk for Drug Interactions

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), run under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examines 5,000 people per year. A recent review of data collected by this survey found that teenage girls taking antidepressant medications are at the highest risk for drug interactions.

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Tinley Park birth injury lawyer maternal deathYou may be shocked to learn that the number of U.S. women who died while giving birth has risen over the past 15 years, from 700 deaths in 2000 to 1,063 in 2015. Over the same 15-year period, the U.S. maternal mortality ratio rose from 17.5 to 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Of course, not all of those deaths are attributable to medical malpractice. But these statistics do raise questions. Why has the maternal mortality ratio in the U.S. gone up? Why are maternal death rates are so much higher in some states than others? Are some of these deaths preventable?

California, for example, has a maternal death ratio of just 4.5, while Illinois has a reported ratio of 14.7. An Illinois study published in 2014 suggested that roughly one-third of maternal deaths in Illinois could have been prevented. 

Preventable Maternal Deaths During Childbirth

Some birth injuries leading to maternal death are blamed on poverty, lack of access to health care services, and untreated chronic conditions such as obesity, smoking, substance abuse, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and mental health disorders.

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Tinley Park birth injury lawyer oxygen deprivationOxygen deprivation during the birth process is a common cause of brain damage in newborns. While some cases of oxygen deprivation are unforeseeable, invisible, and unpreventable, other cases can be attributed to medical malpractice. It is crucial that hospitals and birthing centers respond quickly to provide treatment if there is any indication that a baby is suffering or has suffered oxygen deprivation during birth.

Brain Damage Due to Oxygen Deprivation in Cook County 

One of the most common causes of brain-related birth injuries is delayed delivery of the baby. A baby that stays in the birth canal too long can suffer permanent brain damage due to lack of blood flow and oxygen. Oxygen deprivation can also result from umbilical cord problems or other complications during birth. The technical term for oxygen deprivation at or near the time of birth is birth asphyxia

As a result of oxygen deprivation during birth, two to three out of every 1,000 babies born in the US are diagnosed with a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Breaking down this term: hypoxic = lack of oxygen, ischemic = restricting blood flow, and encephalopathy = affecting the brain. Children with HIE can have cognitive impairments as well as deficits in motor skills.

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Orland Park medical malpractice attorneyWhen you are sick or injured, you trust doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to care for you. The responsibility that medical professionals have to their patients is like no other profession. When a hospital or medical professional makes a mistake, the results can be catastrophic. Tragically, medical mistakes and negligence are increasingly prevalent problems that leave thousands injured or killed every year.

Medical Errors Now Account for a Staggering Number of Deaths

The Latin phrase “Primum non noceere” which means, “First, do no harm,” is often recited by physicians as a promise to uphold their responsibility to keep patients safe from injury. Unfortunately, this promise is not always kept. Most people are aware that there are instances when medical professionals fail to do the job they have a sworn duty to do but have no idea how prevalent the problem really is. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that medical negligence—instances when health professionals cause injury to a patients—is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than medical malpractice. Many of the victims of medical negligence seek financial compensation for their injuries. The issue is so pervasive that over $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts in 2012 alone. This works out to an astounding one payout every 43 minutes.

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