Articles Posted in Surgical Malpractice

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Medical malpractice refers to a medical error or omission commited by a health care provider, usually a doctor nurse or other professional, which deviates from the standard of care or practice for that professional which causes harm or injury. In Illinois, the standard of care is defined as what a reasonably well-qualified professional would do under like or similiar circumstances. If a doctor’s care does not comply with the standard of care he is negligent.

In order to have an actionable medical malpractice case in Chicago, Cook County or throughout Illinois, a doctor’s negligence has to cause or contribute to cause an injury. It doesn’t need to be the only cause, or nearest cause, but can be any cause which in part causes an injury or harm to a patient.

Medical Malpractice is a highly technical practice area within the realm of personal injury law. Lawyers who concentrate on medical malpractice cases typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting their claims and often work on a contingency fee or percentage basis. Some examples of medical malpractice include obstetrical malpractice, failure to diagnose and/or treat cancer, surgical malpractice and nursing home abuse and neglect. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have represented the victims of medical malpractice for more then 40 years.

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The New Jersey state Supreme Court overturned that state’s largest medical malpractice verdict ever, a jury award of $70 million. The reason the case was overturned was because the jury was exposed to medical professionals and the defendant hospital during the jury selection process.

In a 6-0 decision, Justice Helen Hoens wrote for the court, “In light of the relentless and unchecked litany of complaints throughout the selection process, the attorneys had no way of knowing which of the potential jurors who had expressed no bias might later find it impossible to put aside what they had heard from those who had been excused,”

The case involved a 4 month old child who was deprived of oxygen to his brain during surgery to remove a tumor at the base of his spine. The little boy now is catastrophically brain injured and has profound neurological impairment. A new trial is expected.

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Chicago is home to over 70,000 licensed attorneys. Finding a lawyer that is right for you can be a daunting task. The internet and the television airwaves are flooded with advertisements for lawyers that promise big settlements and no fees unless you win. The question you need to ask yourself and the lawyer that you interview is are you qualified, by the nature of your prior experience, to handle my case and see it through to the bitter end.

Medical Malpractice is a very expensive and specialized area of practice. Lawyers who handle medical malpractice litigation typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man hours prosecuting a succesful claim. The skills necessary to be a succesful practicioner are not learned overnight. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have been in the medical malpractice business for more then forty years. The least experienced member of our firm has been handling medical cases for fifteen years. We work up and try all of our cases ourselves. We can, and routinely do, take appellate matters before the state supreme court. We have represented litigants in all manner of litigation in more then twenty different states.

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When you interview a lawyer that you have become acquainted with over the internet or through a television advertisement ask him if he handles his cases himself or refers them out to a more experienced lawyer. Ask how many medical malpractice jury trials he has taken to verdict as a first chair lawyer. Ask him or her about past results and ask to see jury verdict reports to document his experience. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have had hundreds of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million. We have the largest personal injury verdict in Illinois history. Our track record speaks for itself. We would be happy to show you examples of some of our results in court.

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Victim’s of medical malpractice at Chicago area hospitals should not expect an apology from those doctors or the hospital that is at fault for their injury. It has long been the custom and practice of Chicago area physicians to never dare to apologize or admit any mistakes, no matter how devastating.

Not so at the University of Michigan. Doctors there say that admitting their mistakes upfront and offering fair financial compensation saves time, money and hurt feelings. According to a 2009 article in the Journal Of Health And Life Sciences law, the effectiveness of taking responsibility of medical mistakes goes beyond common decency. According to the article, malpractice claims against a health system with a policy of offering early apologies and settlements fell from 121 in 2001 to 61 in 2006, while the backlog of open claims went from 262 in 2001 to 106 in 2006 and 83 in 2007. Between 2001 and 2007, the average time to process a claim fell from about 20 months to about eight months, costs per claim were halved and insurance reserves dropped by two-thirds.

There is evidence that this approach is catching on in the Chicago area. Apparently the University of Illinois is considering adopting an apologize and settler early approach to adjusting malpractice claims. This type of forward thinking makes sense from both a financial and humanitarian perspective.

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The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Dr. Nicholas Caro is facing disciplinary charges from The Illinois Department of Professional Regulation after being sued for medical malpractice 50 times in Cook County.

In the complaint against Dr. Nicholas Caro, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation claims Caro failed to properly diagnose a patient’s keratoconus, a pre-existing eye condition that should have ruled him out as a candidate for Lasik surgery. Caro has yet to respond to the allegations. The agency is asking that Caro’s license be suspended or revoked because of his conduct.

The IDPR has been criticized for not aggresively prosecuting physicians who repeatedly subject their patients to risky and harmful medical care and treatment. The IDPR is the Illinois state agency empowered to discipline a doctor’s license in the case of misconduct.

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The second federal lawsuit against the Marion, Illinois Veteran’s Hospital has settled in the wake of substandard care at the hospital which resulted in the Hospital suspending surgical procedures for the past two years. Surgeries at the hospital were halted after the Veteran’s Administration found that patients had died at the facility due to substandard care and treatment. The terms of the settlement are undisclosed.

The VA has been critical of the marion facility, finding its prior administration to be dysfunctional and inefficient. The Veteran’s Administration has been under harsh criticism for the operation of its hospitals which has been highlighted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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How do we cap medical malpractice without capping medical malpractice awards for those patients who are injured by the negligence of doctors. Everyone agrees that the health care system in the United States is in need of a drastic overhaul. The key is accomplishing an overhaul without further abridging the rights of the needy.

Andy Hoffman in Friday’s Daily Kos Online wrote an excellent editorial suggesting a novel, yet thusfar, unexplored solution to reducing the cost of medical malpractice claims on society. Weed out the worst offenders, those doctors who repeatedly victimize their patients and have no business practicing medicine.

Focusing on medical malpractice caps will do nothing to reduce health care costs. California, as Hoffman notes, has had caps on medical malpractice awards for the past 34 years. The caps in california are drastic, $250,000 limits on malpractice awards, and have had literally no effect on the cost of malpractice insurance or the price of health care in that state. Why not focus on the cause of medical malpractice cases and the conduct of those bad doctors who are driving up prices for everyone else, rather then the victims? Sounds reasonable to us.

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Searching for a lawyer who practices in the area of medical malpractice in Chicago, Illinois is as easy as opening up you web browser and Googling “medical malpractice chicago.” When i ran this search term Google returned 275,000 search results. The first page of results alone listed more then 30 lawyers, including those who have purchased sponsored ads. I know a lot of these lawyers, and some of them do practice in the area of medical malpractice and are very fine attorneys. The vast majority of others are “brokers”, business men who earn a living referring cases to other lawyers who are capable of actually working on a case and expecting part of the fee as a result of finding the case.

At Goldberg & Goldberg we have been practicing in the area of medical malpractice in Chicago for more then forty years. We do not broker cases out to other lawyers. We work up and try our client’s cases ourselves. Our results speak for themselves. We have collected almost $1 billion in compensation for our clients.

When you interview a lawyer that you have found on the internet about his ability to handle your case you are making an intensely important decision. Can this lawyer carry my banner and accomplish the herculean task of bringing a hospital or doctor to his knees in court. In order to do this you should ask a few basic questions of your potential lawyer to see if he has the right stuff to handle your case. If the lawyer hems and haws when answering your direct question you should consider finding someone else to represent you. Here are some sample questions you should ask:

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On March 26, 2009 we reported on the efforts of one family to have the Feres doctrine legislatively overturned.  If you recall the Feres doctrine prohibits an active member of the United States military from suing the an Army hospital for medical malpractice.  This prohibition on medical malpractice suits brought by members of the armed services has long been an unfair bar to the legitimate claims of our nation’s heroes.

We are glad to announce that a House Judiciary subcommittee recently approved legislation to correct the injustice that is the Feres doctrine.  This new bill would allow servicemen and their families to hold the military accountable for medical malpractice.  The Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2009 is sponsored by Rep. Maurice hinchey (D-NY) and is named after serviceman Carmelo Rodriguez who died in 2007 after his cancer was misdiagnosed by military doctors.  Below is a CBS news report about the late Sgt. Rodriguez.

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A Tennessee jury awarded a 33 year old woman $12 million dollars yesterday in what is being reported as one of the states largest ever jury awards.  The jury returned the verdict against a local gastroenterologist who left the girl brain damaged after a procedure that was meant to diagnose bowel problems.

The injury occured when the plaintiff suffered a tear in her small intestine during an edoscopic exam.  The doctor defended himself by trying to blame the victim for not going to the emergency room quickly enough once she began to experience symptoms of the tear.

Goldberg & Goldberg is a Chicago, Illinois law firm representing the victims of medical malpractice and other serious personal injury matters for over forty years.

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