Illinois Plaintiff's Lawyer Personal Injury Blog- Legal News and Insights from Champaign Urbana Attorneys Koester & Bradley, LLP

Opioids: Are Doctors Liable?

1/15/2019

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In the United States, Opioids officially kill more Americans automobile accidents.  It is safe to say that Opioids have reached epidemic proportions.
-Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

Drug Manufacturers and Distributors share the Greatest Amount of Blame for the Opioid Epidemic

 

In the United States, opioid abuse runs rampant, and in truth large drug companies such as Purdue Pharma and distributors such as Cardinal shoulder the bulk of the blame.  Still, in certain circumstances, doctors have some responsibility as well.

Despite knowing that opioid pain relievers are addicting, the companies responsible for making and marketing the drugs continued to supply them liberally for years.  During this time, these companies told doctors that the powerful narcotics were not addictive.  Thus, many doctors were victims as well and this resulted in huge amounts of dependency.

However, the country is just starting to acknowledge our massive opioid problem and they are looking for someone to blame. If you have a loved one that got wrapped up in opioid addiction after being legitimately injured, can the doctor be held to blame?

It is a doctor's duty to take the best possible route of care for all their patients, and if they breach this duty, then it can be considered a medical malpractice case. There have been cases in other states where doctors, and more specifically their insurance companies, have had to pay millions of dollars in damages for the over-prescription of opioids. These cases often take a long time and a lot of evidence, investigation and money to fund.  Additionally, it is incredibly rare that only one doctor was prescribing opioids.  Most individuals who are seeking narcotics visit many doctors and even cross state lines to do so before turning to illicit drugs and heroin purchased on the street.  Most of the time the individual doctors are actually unaware for the amount of opioids that the addicted patient is actually taking.

In order to recover damages for a medical malpractice case of this nature, you would need to prove that the doctor prescribed a gross amount of opioids over a period of time and that the prescription kept being filled for longer than the injury needed. In cases where the doctors have been held responsible for opioid addiction, it was discovered that they fed the addiction for years without pursuing other, less addictive means of treatment.  These cases represent only a small portion of the problem as the federal government and local law enforcement has worked tirelessly to shut down so-called "pill mills."  THis means that most of the time the prescribing doctor has to rely on an accurate medical history from the compromised patient and other objective forms of determination such as drug testing.  This has put a great deal of strain on the system and made it very difficult for doctors, most of which are honest and diligent, to treat pain.

At Koester & Bradley, we believe that the manufacturers and distributors of opioids are truly the responsible parties in this epidemic.  This is why we are representing counties and municipalities in Illinois along with our co-counsel firms.  However, we are here to provide guidance to the families of opioid victims as well in every way we can.

Do you or a loved one need help?  If you believe that it was your doctor's fault that the addiction got so bad because they continued to wantonly prescribe you pills, then contact us today. We may be able to help you pursue a case of medical malpractice against your physician or provide some insight and closure about the issue.  If you are a member of a county board, or part of the law enforcement community in an Illinois County or municipality, also feel free to reach out and we will meet with you about the pending litigation. This can help you recover damages so you or your loved one can get the treatment that they need.

By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

The Four Components of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

10/25/2017

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Despite the Tort Reform "Fake News" Medical Malpractice Claims are Rare and Difficult

If you have recently had someone in your family become ill, injured, or even die at the hands of a medical professional, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.  Despite what you may have heard though, these claims, particularly in Illinois, are complicated and require a variety of steps to ensure that each claim is valid. Medical malpractice is defined as negligent, unskilled or improper treatment of a patient by a medical professional such as a nurse, doctor, dentist or pharmacist. Here, we'll explain what you need to know when it comes to successful  medical malpractice lawsuits.

Successful Malpractice Cases Mean Proving Four Elements 

If you’re considering filing a malpractice lawsuit, you and your attorney need to establish four elements:

Duty to provide medical care. The first thing you need to prove is that the health care professional had a duty to provide medical care in a reasonable and customary manner for a doctor or healthcare professional engaged in the same area of practice. This is not generally an issue once the medical professional agrees to treat the patient.  The complexities with respect to this element arise when there is a medical team caring for a patient.  

Standard of care violation. Next, you have to prove that the health care professional violated the standard of care. Usually, the courts will combine the standard of care within the area where the alleged incident took place as well as the national standards of care.  This is called the "locality rule" and is the case in Illinois. Both sides of the case will ask expert witnesses to testify as to the standards of care that have been established.

Injury sustained. Third, you need to prove the patient suffered a compensable injury. This can be a physical or emotional injury and is usually a combination of both.  It is this element that begins the uphill battle against the negligent doctor and their insurance company-supplied attorney.  Usually, the healthcare provider who committed the malpractice will have their own expert doctor who they will pay to testify that the injuries at issue in the case were not related to the deviation in the standard of care.  This underlines the importance of retaining a competent and local attorney. 

Conduct caused injury. The last thing you need to prove is that the injury was caused by the conduct on the part of the health care professional.  Otherwise known as causation, this can be the most difficult element to prove and is usually the one factors argued the most in a malpractice lawsuit.  Causation is established by an outside doctor analyzing the medical records in the case and determining that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the injuries might or could be caused by the negligence.
 
For more information on medical malpractice claims,  contact us. We will sit with you, review your case and unique circumstances and advise you accordingly.

Quick Tip of the Day: Question Your Doctor to Avoid Medical Errors

7/04/2016

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Do Your Part to Prevent Medical Errors

Medical malpractice is often time preventable.  In order to receive the highest level of care possible, the patient and doctor must communicate.  Many times, medical malpractice occurs when a patient does not provide all of the relevant facts to the physician, and the physician fails to ask the proper questions to elicit the information.  Without a doubt, the doctor has the obligation to conduct and complete a full evaluation of the client and to arrive at a proper diagnosis.  However, it does not hurt to take the following measure when you meet with your doctor next, to assist them in proving the highest level of care.

1. Write down all symptoms and question that you may have before you see your doctor.  Often times patients can forget pertinent information while in the examination room.

2. Ask your doctor if they have ever been involved in a medical malpractice suit.  There are also doctor rating services that supply this information.

3. Ask what tests need to be run, and if there are other options.

4. Ask about your doctor's experience.  This is especially true when you are considering surgery and your doctor is new to a particular procedure .  A good example is the DaVinci robot which is used for a variety of surgeries.

5. Ask about possible side effects.

6. Ask if you should get a second opinion or see a specialist.

7. Ask about recovery time and therapy.

Feel free to bring a pad and paper into the exam room and document the answers to your questions.  It is also a good idea to create a medical journal to document the conditions and treatments that you may have for your own information and in case of a lawsuit.
With a little planning, you and your doctor can stop medical malpractice before it starts.  Of course, if you are the victim of medical malpractice, contact an attorney.

Koester & Bradley handles many types of medical negligence cases in Champaign Urbana and across Illinois.  Still interested in learning more about medical malpractice in Central Illinois? We do our best to debunk medical negligence myths here.  


Thank Your Local Medical Malpractice Lawyer

4/26/2016

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According to Harvard, Medical Malpractice is a Positive Force


"Medical Malpractice lawsuits cost us all in healthcare premiums."  This is the faulty rhetoric put forth by certain entities opposed to civil lawsuits.   Health Affairs, a public policy journal, has recently published a study that may prove otherwise.

Harvard researchers published the study the primary finding of which was that the medical liability system (liability for negligent actions imposed on medical professionals) accounts for a measly 2.4 percent of American Health Care expenditures.  In fact, the cost of medical malpractice lawsuits alone is well below one percent of the $55.6 billion spent on health care in the U.S. in 2008.
Health and Human Services recently published data from 1998 showing that American spend $7,681 per person  on health care, the Harvard study results suggest that only $185 of that amount goes toward malpractice insurance, “defensive” medical tests, legal costs, and the verdicts and settlements paid to patients.  Hardly the problem that ant-malpractice community would have the public believe.

“Physician and insurer groups like to collapse all conversations about cost growth in health care to malpractice reform,” said Amitabh Chandra, one of the authors and a professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He points out further, “the amount of defensive medicine is not trivial, but it’s unlikely to be a source of significant savings.”  Clearly the lobbying and media relations efforts on behalf of the Insurance and physician groups are not telling the full story.

Medical malpractice is a reality.  Doctors make mistakes, as do nurses, physician assistants, and other medical professionals. Individuals that have been victims of medical malpractice can file lawsuits in relation to failure to diagnose a medical condition, surgical complications, and improper coordination of hospital staff, and the violation of hospital protocols and policies.

Patients and families that have questions regarding a potential medical malpractice action should contact experienced civil litigation attorneys.   Most take cases on a contingency fee basis,   this allows medical negligence attorneys provide access to dedicated counsel and other legal resources without substantial costs to the patients and families.

In Illinois, a medical expert must certify all medical malpractice cases before the lawsuit is allowed to proceed in court.  Therefore, no "frivolous"  medical malpractice lawsuits can reach the court system in Illinois.   Thus, another myth regarding medical malpractice is dispelled.
Unfortunately, the Insurance and Physician Group lobby has plenty of money to spend on swaying and misinforming the public--The Illinois Plaintiff's lawyer only has the facts.   Let us know how we can help.

Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer Personal Injury Blog by Koester & Bradley, LLP 

Legal News and safety tips with Illinois Impact from the Accident and Personal Injury Firm Koester & Bradley, LLP

Authors

Ryan R Bradley is a personal injury and litigation lawyer based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing injured clients and businesses navigate the maze of litigation to financial recovery.  


Tom Koester is a personal injury attorney based in Champaign County in Central Illinois focused on representing the injured and victims of Medical Malpractice and Personal Injuries.