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What Hospital Errors Constitute Medical Malpractice?

September 13, 2022

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Coplan + Crane have extensive experience helping clients recover losses after serious hospital errors because . In many cases, patients are harmed by medical professionals in a hospital setting.

If you have concerns about the quality of care you or a loved one received in an Illinois hospital, you are not alone. Unfortunately, medical malpractice in hospitals is alarmingly common, from mistakes in the emergency room (ER) to mistakes during scheduled surgeries and inpatient care. 

Virtually all types of hospital errors have the potential to constitute medical malpractice if they result in patient harm or death. The question isn’t so much the type of error, but rather whether the error amounts to a breach of the hospital’s duty of care.

Hospitals Owe All Patients a Duty of Care

In Illinois, hospitals owe all patients a duty of care. This duty applies in all areas of the hospital—from the ER waiting room to operating rooms. To meet their duty, hospitals in Illinois must provide care that is consistent with the level of care other facilities would provide under similar circumstances. If a hospital provides substandard care, it can—and should—be held liable for medical malpractice.

Common Hospital Errors that Constitute Medical Malpractice

Hospitals can violate their duty of care under an extremely broad range of circumstances. As a result, if you have any concerns about your (or a loved one’s) care for any reason, you should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer. If you were harmed as the result of any of the following hospital errors, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers can help.

Triage Errors

Hospitals must make informed decisions when prioritizing patients’ needs. They cannot leave patients who have urgent needs unattended; and, generally speaking, they cannot make decisions based on patients’ ability (or perceived ability) to pay. 

Emergency Room (ER) Errors

Along with triage errors, many other hospital errors are common in the ER as well. This includes many of the types of errors discussed below, including misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose, anesthesia and medication errors, and mistakes during emergency surgery. 

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are a leading cause of unnecessary patient harm and complications in the hospital setting. This includes misdiagnosis (diagnosing a patient with the wrong condition), delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose a patient’s condition entirely. 

Surgical Errors

We think of surgeons as being among the most highly-trained and highly-skilled doctors in the medical profession. While this is true in some cases, many surgeons lack the expertise they need to operate safely. Surgeons may also attempt to perform procedures for which they are not personally well-equipped, or they may make surgical mistakes despite being capable of avoiding them. 

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors are also common causes of patient harm during surgery. Improper administration of anesthesia, overdosing, and underdosing all present serious (and potentially life-threatening) risks for surgical patients in hospitals. 

Medication Errors

Along with anesthesia errors, other medication errors are common as well. Ordering the wrong medications, selecting the wrong drugs out of medication cabinets, overdosing and underdosing, and administration errors all have the potential to result in serious or fatal complications. 

Failure to Monitor

For patients who need monitoring, failure to monitor can result in failure to provide necessary therapeutic or life-saving care. While hospital personnel will often blame monitoring failures on being short-staffed, this is not an excuse for providing substandard care. 

Failure to Treat

Whether resulting from failure to diagnose, failure to monitor, or other shortcomings, failure to treat is inexcusable under almost all circumstances. 

Labor and Delivery Errors

Labor and delivery errors are responsible for numerous preventable birth injuries each year. These errors can take many different forms, from failure to diagnose fetal risks to failure to recommend emergency C-sections, and from failure to ensure an adequate oxygen supply to causing physical trauma during childbirth. 

Hospital Administration Errors

Hospital administration errors can also be to blame for patients’ substandard care. Inadequate staffing, hiring unqualified doctors, and mixing up patients’ records are just a few examples of issues that can (and frequently do) leave patients and families facing unnecessary consequences. 

Again, these are just examples. Regardless of the circumstances involved, if you have concerns about hospital malpractice, you should seek help promptly. Our lawyers are here to help, and we can arrange for you to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights in confidence as soon as possible. 

Speak with a Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Free

If you believe you may have a claim for hospital malpractice, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Coplan + Crane.

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