What happens if a doctor makes a mistake? Victims may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against the negligent doctor or hospital. They may be eligible to receive a financial award to compensate them for the emotional and monetary costs of the injury. An Illinois medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help them preserve and bring a timely medical malpractice claim.
A study found in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that 400,000 people die each year in hospitals due to preventable medical mistakes. Researchers further estimate that errors that cause serious harm without death may even be 20 times higher than fatal errors. Despite the prevalence of these mistakes, many doctors are not forthcoming in providing information about their errors to their patients, even when it may be detrimental to their health, such as occurs in cases of misdiagnosis.
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What Happens If a Doctor Makes a Mistake in Illinois?
When a doctor makes a mistake in Illinois, they are not legally required to tell a patient. However, the American Medical Association’s Code of Patient Safety ethically requires every doctor to admit to their mistakes to their patients when it affects their health and safety. Even though it may be dangerous for the patient when doctors fail to notify patients, fear of legal action and embarrassment often create a tight-lipped wall that patients can have a great deal of difficulty getting through.
Once patients start asking questions, doctors will typically stop returning their calls and provide inadequate information regarding the details of their mistakes and how they may impact a patient in the future. In many cases, those doctors who feel ethically obligated to disclose the mistake will still not give all the information available in an effort to save face and minimize liability. Patient care is ultimately often pushed to the side simply due to doctors’ pride.
“I’m Sorry” Laws
In an effort to increase transparency and goodwill between medical staff and patients, the state of Illinois passed “I’m Sorry” laws in 2005. These laws protect doctors who sincerely show remorse for the situation or apologize from having their apologies and other statements that could be construed as admissions of guilt used against them in court. Unfortunately, many doctors do not feel adequately protected under these laws and still refrain from properly communicating with their patients following a medical mistake.
What To Do If Your Doctor Makes a Mistake
If a doctor makes a mistake in a hospital, the hospital is legally required to disclose the medical error. However, medical professionals must adhere to the individual hospital’s disclosure program. The protocol required by many hospitals may make it difficult for many doctors to fully communicate with a patient while still abiding by its rules and regulations.
Those who have been injured by a prescription mistake or other medical errors should contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney immediately. These matters are extremely complicated and require the proper combination of knowledge and experience for patients to seek and receive the maximum compensation for their injuries.
Illinois’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice places strict deadlines on when you must file your claim against the negligent doctor. In many instances, you have just two years during which to file your medical malpractice claim. The clock generally begins to run from the date that you discovered or should have discovered the medical error. Exceptions apply, such as fraud, disability, or youth. Talk to a medical malpractice lawyer to help make sure that you don’t miss these important deadlines.
How Can an Attorney Help You Prove that Your Doctor Made a Mistake?
Proving that your doctor made a mistake often requires the knowledge and skill of a medical malpractice lawyer. These lawyers may routinely handle these cases, making them an invaluable asset to plaintiffs. Insurance companies may try to downplay or deny a patient’s claim. Further, insurance companies may be less likely to take a claim seriously if the victim does not have an attorney. Having an attorney may protect you and arm you with evidence and knowledge to prove your case.
An experienced attorney may also:
- Uncover crucial evidence that unrepresented parties and other attorneys may miss
- Advocate for the best interests of the victim – not the insurance company’s bottom line
- Fight for the victim at the negotiation table or in the courtroom
He or she may also help you understand your legal rights to bring a claim and help you navigate the sometimes treacherous claims process. He or she may also explain to you what happens if a doctor makes a mistake, and the types of personal injury damages that you may receive because of it. Most personal injury lawyer fees are on a contingency fee basis. Under this structure, you may not have to pay any upfront costs or legal fees unless and until the attorney wins your case, and you receive a payout.