Chicago Delayed Treatment Attorneys
Ask any credible medical professional about serious diseases, conditions, or injuries, and they will all tell you the same thing: time is of the essence. Doctors across the nation emphasize the importance of swift action. We are all told to seek medical help the moment a problem arises. Tragically, sometimes healthcare professionals, not patients, cause delayed treatment. Doctors, along with nurses and other healthcare employees, can put innocent people at risk when they do not deliver diagnoses and treatments in a timely manner.
When you go to a hospital for medical help, you expect a certain standard of care. You assume your doctors are skilled and knowledgeable. You assume the nurses are trained and focused. You assume the clerical staff members are attentive and careful. Illinois law also expects these basic levels of competence. The delayed treatment attorneys at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC understand that healthcare professionals who cause harm to their patients through negligence or improper care can be held responsible for medical malpractice.
Common Causes of Delayed Treatment
Delayed treatment can occur when a patient is either misdiagnosed, incorrectly treated, or neglected after a correct diagnosis. If you are misdiagnosed initially, you probably won’t receive the treatment you actually need. The same holds true for incorrect treatment. You might also simply be forgotten by a hospital staff. Patients rely on a large system of information relay to receive timely, proper treatment. If even one health care professional makes a mistake, you might not receive your treatment until it’s too late. Delayed treatment can be caused by:
- A clerical error at any level
- A mistake during a shift change for doctors or nurses
- Hospital labs failing to alert doctors to test results
- Doctors failing to carefully review patient history
- Nurses starting the incorrect treatment
Patients can suffer greatly when their treatments are delayed. Consider how quickly cancers can spread. Treatable cervical cancer can swiftly become lethal if you are not diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Pregnancy complications are also attached to a strict timeline. Left untreated, problems can put the mother and the child both at extreme risk.
Delayed Treatment and Medical Malpractice
Does delaying treatment amount to a medical malpractice case? That depends. There are a variety of reasons why a medical diagnosis could be delayed or missed. In order for a delay to be categorized as medical malpractice, it needs to be established that the physician’s delay in administering treatment was negligent in some way. The question of negligence in medical care typically hinges on one main point, would another equally trained and skilled physician prove the same level of treatment or care under similar circumstances? If the answer is no, then you may have a malpractice case on your hands for the delay in your medical treatment.
To proceed with a medical malpractice case for delayed treatment in Illinois, a victim must provide an “affidavit of merit.” This document is prepared by a health care professional who has knowledge of the medical issue inherent to the case. This individual must also practice or teach in the field of medicine that they are commenting on and have some experience in the subject matter of the lawsuit. The purpose of this affidavit is to establish that another medical professional in the field believes that there is a reasonable cause for the lawsuit itself.
How is Delayed Treatment Proven in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Proving that the delay in treatment is in fact a result of negligence on the part of a physician or hospital can be difficult. While every case has its own unique circumstances, under Illinois law there are certain characteristics that must be present for a lawsuit to proceed through the court system. These elements include:
- Establishing that a doctor-patient relationship exists – This is typically established through obtaining a person’s medical information and official documentation. An individual must prove that they were in fact a patient and sought out treatment through established medical channels. An individual cannot successfully sue a physician who may have given medical advice in passing, at a social event for example.
- The physician violated the standard of care- This means that the physician did not deliver medical care or the proper diagnosis and/or treatment that is considered the equivalent to other reasonably trained health care professionals.
- Negligence caused harm to the patient and that harm resulted in damage- A physician’s negligence must be tied to the delay in treatment. It must also be established that the delay in medical treatment resulted in harm to the victim.
A delay or failure to diagnose a patient is not enough for a lawsuit. A victim must prove that the delay caused additional harm or injury that would not have otherwise been present. There may be several ways to establish this, for instance, proving that the delay made the existing condition worse or unnecessarily prolonged or intensified a victim’s condition or their level of pain.
While establishing that a doctor-patient relationship is relatively easy, establishing a violation in the standard of care and negligence is complicated. It takes an experienced attorney, well versed in medical malpractice cases to bring all the facts and evidence into alignment. The team at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC has seasoned attorneys with the resources necessary to fight for you and get you the compensation you rightly deserve.
Compensation for a Delayed Treatment Claim
There is no magic number when it comes to damages for a delayed treatment case. The compensation you may be entitled to depend on the specific nature of your individual case. In medical malpractices cases, there are typically two types of damages that you may be awarded, economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are considered tangible damages that have an easily established value. Economic damages can include:
- Current medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss in earning capacity
Non-economic damages cannot be calculated by totaling up bills or calculating how much a person makes at their job. Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature. Examples of non-economic damages that you may be able to recover include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Why highlight the difference between economic and non-economic damages? That’s because prior to 2010 the state of Illinois placed a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that could be awarded to a medical malpractice victim. Since non-economic damages tend to outpace economic ones, this was a way to keep payouts low. The cap established that a victim was only allowed to recover $500,000 in non-economic damages per doctor or healthcare provided and only $1,000,000 per hospital or healthcare facility.
However, in 2010 the Illinois Supreme Court declared the cap unconstitutional thanks to the case of LeBron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. This is supremely important for victims of delayed treatment cases in Illinois. It means that there is no cap to the number of damages both economic and non-economic that you could be awarded based on the circumstances of your case. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer is able to gather the facts and evidence of your individual case and seek compensation appropriate to both your medical needs and the suffering you are being forced to endure.
The Clock is Ticking
One delay has already caused you a significant medical problem, delaying getting an attorney on your side may cause a significant legal problem as well. The state of Illinois places a time limit, or statute of limitations, on your ability to file a suit. For a medical malpractice case, you have two years from the date you knew or should have known, that an injury was caused by a healthcare provider. However, if a delay in treatment was to blame, you may have been delayed in finding out that your change in condition was a result of medical malpractice.
Illinois law does include a broader statute of limitations for medical cases where the victim did not discover right away that malpractice could be to blame. This section of law lays out a four-year time frame in which to proceed with a legal case against a physician or hospital. No matter, the situation, your best bet is to always consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. This gives you and your attorney time to gather the needed evidence to strengthen your case before it is lost or destroyed. It also means that your case won’t be dismissed for failing to meet the statute of limitations.
The delayed treatment attorneys at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC believe that healthcare professionals have a solemn duty to care for their patients. You should not have to suffer because some error outside of your control delayed your treatment. Call our office today at 312-346-8620 to discuss your legal and financial options. We are ready to fight to get you the monetary recompense you deserve.