A three-judge appeals panel in Illinois reinstated claims by a patient with multiple sclerosis for her neurologist’s negligence in treating her disorder. The treatment caused the patient’s permanent disability. The trial court originally rejected the patient’s amended complaint.
This case shows the importance of informed consent in medical negligence cases and defines how strictly a court upholds the standard of care when informing a patient of the asserted risks of a procedure outside the scope of a doctor’s expertise.
What was once a nagging suspicion is becoming established fact. There is growing evidence demonstrating the “apology laws” enacted by most states to protect clinicians after adverse events have little positive effect. These apologies might even encourage patients to sue, and they can work against a defendant during trial.
22 states claim CMS mandate will lead to harmful staff resignations
November 30, 2021
Citing the national shortage of nurses and other issues, 22 states have joined in two separate lawsuits demanding the Biden administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services halt their mandate of COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers.
Lessons from this case on the law may be unique to this state, but it demonstrates the importance of reviewing a physician or care provider’s applicable laws for any such special protections. In a different state, the outcome here could have been dramatically different: The physician was negligent and the patient was injured, which could have resulted in a jury awarding millions of dollars for lifelong injuries requiring ongoing medical care. But here, the negligent physician was protected by the state law.
This case reveals the importance of providing patients with relevant information and documenting the provision of information in a timely fashion. In this case, the negligence focused on the physician’s failure to inform the patient about the kidney mass and failure to diagnose the cancer. When patients are not fully informed of material information, such as an abnormal mass, patients are deprived of the ability to make informed decisions.
One of the major takeaways from this case relates to the substantial adverse verdict imposed by the jury here: Nearly $35 million dollars, primarily allocated to the lifetime of anticipated medical expenses. Past and future expenses are a critical component that medical malpractice patients seek to recover. When the patient is an injured child, a lifetime of injuries can cascade into massive damages through projections and estimates of permanent or extensive medical care.
This case presents interesting lessons in both substance of medical malpractice cases and in procedures for resolving allegations of medical malpractice. On the substance, the primary issues in this case revolved around the delayed diagnosis: whether the delay fell below the applicable standard of care, and whether the delay directly caused the patient’s injuries. A patient alleging medical malpractice has the burden of demonstrating both of these elements, among others.
When dealing with video that might be used in a malpractice or premises liability case, the risk of spoliation arises when the owner of the evidence knows it could be relevant to the case and destroys it anyway. When that happens, the court may order the jury to assume that whatever was on the video was damaging to the party that destroyed it.