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What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?

January 14, 2022

Doctors make mistakes. In fact, a widely-cited study from Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States—accounting for more than 250,000 deaths per year. Medical mistakes can leave patients facing a range of consequences, from undiagnosed health conditions to preventable problems caused by prescription medication errors and life-altering injuries caused by surgical mistakes.

The accomplished medical malpractice lawyers at Coplan + Crane have helped wrongfully injured patients throughout Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas of Illinois for years. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources needed to handle these highly complex cases and pursue the full compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.

Below, we discuss the requirements needed to establish medical malpractice, we give examples of the most common forms of malpractice, and we provide an introduction to the process of proving a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. 

4 Key Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Illinois

Under Illinois law, there are four key requirements for establishing that a medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice. These requirements are: 

1. You Had a Doctor-Patient Relationship

Medical malpractice requires the existence of a doctor-patient relationship. If you received bad advice from a physician at a party, you most likely do not have a claim against the doctor. However, if you received substandard care at a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, or any other health care facility, then you could potentially have a medical malpractice claim. 

2. Your Doctor Made a Mistake

A medical mistake is the fundamental basis for a medical malpractice claim. If your doctor provided appropriate care and your body did not respond (or you did not take the steps you needed to take in order to fully recover), then you do not have a claim. However, if your doctor made a diagnostic error, surgical error, or any of the other common medical mistakes listed below, this could potentially provide grounds to pursue a claim for medical malpractice. 

3. Your Doctor’s Mistake Breached His or Her “Duty of Care”

In order for a medical mistake to be considered medical malpractice, the mistake must breach your doctor’s “duty of care.” Illinois law requires all doctors to provide care according to certain standards; and, when they fail to meet these standards they can be held liable for malpractice. 

Generally speaking, the question is whether a competent doctor standing in your doctor’s shoes would have made the same mistake. If the mistake was justified based on current medical knowledge, the resources available, and the information available at the time, then the mistake may not rise to the level of malpractice. However, if other doctors would not have made the same mistake under the same circumstances, then you may be entitled to financial compensation under Illinois’s medical malpractice laws. 

4. Your Doctor’s Mistake Caused You Harm 

The final key requirement for a medical malpractice claim in Illinois is evidence of harm. If your doctor made a mistake but it didn’t cause you harm, then your doctor cannot be held liable for damages. However, if your doctor’s mistake caused your condition to worsen, if it prolonged your recovery, or if it means you will never be able to fully recover, all of these are considered forms of compensable harm under Illinois law. 

While we have specifically referenced “doctors” in the discussion above, any health care provider can potentially commit medical malpractice. Physician assistants, nurses, medical technicians, and others can all potentially make mistakes that will entitle patients and families to pursue medical malpractice claims under Illinois law. 

Common Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many different forms. Depending on the circumstances involved, a number of mistakes have the potential to rise to the level of malpractice. With this in mind, some of the most common examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth and delivery errors
  • Failure to monitor
  • Failure to prevent infections (i.e. sepsis or MRSA)
  • Failure to treat 
  • Diagnostic errors (i.e. misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose)
  • Misreading scans and test results 
  • Prescription medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Treatment errors

How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice in Illinois? 

Proving medical malpractice is a complicated process that requires both legal knowledge and medical expertise. To prove negligence, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer who represents patients and families in medical malpractice cases. Your attorney must engage a medical expert who is familiar with the relevant duty of care. If it appears that you have a claim, your lawyer will use your medical records, the expert’s report and testimony, and various other forms of evidence to prove your right to financial compensation.

Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Free

If you are the victim of medical malpractice, you may be left with high medical bills, chronic pain, severe disabilities, and time away from work that you cannot afford.

At Coplan + Crane, our experienced medical malpractice lawyers understand the hardships you may be facing. We are passionate about protecting your rights and holding negligent medical providers responsible for their negligence.

If you or someone you love has been harmed by a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional, call Coplan + Crane today at (708) 358-8080 for a free case review. Our firm proudly serves clients in Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas of Illinois.