The Better Government Association reported that public hospitals in Illinois have paid over $180 million for fatalities in taxpayer-supported institutions in the last decade. The amount of the payouts to victims’ families differed. The numbers indicate that there have been significant medical errors in spite of efforts to improve safety protocol. Any wrongful death attorney Chicago may be alarmed at the number of preventable deaths.
Most of the settlements were made because of fatalities due to medical mistakes that occurred in Cook County hospitals. Federal Veterans Affairs medical centers also paid out settlements, as did state-run mental health institutions and hospitals controlled locally in other locations. Some states have capped the amount that the court can award in a malpractice lawsuit, but no such limit currently exists in Illinois.
Experts believe the number of settlements represents only a fraction of existing medical errors. A study published in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that preventable hospital fatalities may exceed 400,000 each year.
Causes of malpractice lawsuits
Heart failure, pneumonia and complications stemming from surgical mistakes are three key categories affecting death rates. A wrongful death attorney in Chicago may note that some errors arise from misdiagnosis, failure to follow safety protocol and other negligent actions. Patients also undergo increased risk when new technology is adopted.
One lawsuit against the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System claimed that an intestinal puncture occurred during a robotically assisted surgery. The plaintiff alleged that the puncture was not properly diagnosed and treated. The lawsuit also stated that one of the lead doctors did not have adequate experience in using the surgical robot. During a procedure of this type, a robotic arm wielding cameras and instruments is controlled by a surgeon using a computer. The lawsuit settlement was $6 million.
Higher risk of disability from errors
The millions paid as a result of fatal medical errors are still less than the amounts allotted to patients each year who incur permanent disabilities. Hospitals and medical facilities in Illinois recognize the need to reduce hospital errors. Internal investigations and analyses of data collected about current safety efforts are part of the plan to improve health care quality and patient safety.
Victims of medical errors and their family members may feel helpless in the face of permanent harm or fatality. A wrongful death attorney in Chicago may be able to provide legal advice on the best way to proceed in a medical malpractice lawsuit.