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What is considered medical malpractice in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

When your health is on the line, you expect every doctor, nurse or other health professional involved in your treatment to provide you with excellent care. However, if they do not, their mistakes and irresponsible choices could make your health even worse. In these cases, a malpractice claim could help you hold them responsible and get financial support to help you heal. What should you know about medical malpractice claims in Illinois?

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare professional does not meet the expected standards of their profession. To prove medical malpractice, you must show certain legal elements that confirm negligence. Here are the key elements needed for a claim:

  • Duty of care – Healthcare professionals must provide care that meets the standard expected from a skilled professional with a similar background in similar circumstances.
  • Breach of duty – The healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care expected.
  • Cause of injury – The failure to meet the standard of care must be the direct cause of the patient’s injury.
  • Damages – The injury must result in specific damages such as physical pain, mental suffering, extra medical bills and loss of work or earning ability.

For example, a nurse managing your medication during a hospital stay has a duty to provide you with the correct dose. If that nurse gave you too much of that medication and that high dose impacted your health, you may have a valid malpractice claim.

What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Illinois?

In Illinois, you generally have two years from when you knew or should have known about the injury to file a lawsuit. Patients also cannot bring a claim if more than 4 years have passed since the day that the malpractice occurred.

However, some people have more time to file a claim. If the patient was under the age of 18 or legally unable to make decisions due to a disability, the law extends the statute of limitations.

What are common examples of medical negligence?

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers perform many different tasks when treating a patient. Unfortunately, this means errors could occur at any stage of the treatment process, from diagnosis and treatment to aftercare. That negligence can take many forms, including:

  • Failure to diagnose or wrong diagnosis
  • Surgical errors or operating on the wrong site
  • Wrong medication or dosage
  • Inadequate follow-up or aftercare
  • Discharging a patient too soon from a healthcare facility
  • Overlooking or failing to take proper patient history
  • Not ordering necessary tests
  • Missing symptoms

These and other errors can damage patients’ health, leaving them without the treatment they need or exposing them to risks because of unnecessary treatment.

What steps should I take if I believe I have a medical malpractice claim?

If you believe that a healthcare professional made mistakes in treating you or a loved one, you should take steps to protect your rights. Some important ways to support your claim include:

  • Get your medical records – Request all related medical records. These can provide vital evidence if you decide to take legal action.
  • Consult with a medical malpractice lawyer – Talk to a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice. They can offer legal advice, help you understand your rights and assess the viability of your claim.
  • Obtain a medical assessment – You might need a medical expert to confirm that your healthcare provider did not meet the standard of care and to link your injury to the provider’s actions.
  • Document everything – Keep detailed notes about your treatments, symptoms, interactions with healthcare professionals and how your injury has impacted your life.
  • Act quickly – Given the statute of limitations in Illinois, start the legal process soon to avoid running out of time.

These steps can help protect your rights and provide you with the best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. With the right guidance and information, it is possible to protect your health and your rights after a healthcare provider made a life-changing mistake.