The current state of medical malpractice law is a complex issue in Illinois, and across the country. Many doctors complain about the high insurance costs associated with medical malpractice. Some lawmakers are arguing for caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. However, victim advocates argue that caps on damages penalizes those injured and their families. Many states are now searching for ways to change the system, in a way that is fair to victims and the medical community.
While the Illinois courts have found medical malpractice caps unconstitutional, other states have placed a limit on non-economic damages. This means that for victims of medical malpractice in states like California and Kansas, their non-economic damages may be limited to $250,000, no matter how serious their pain and suffering. However, there may be other ways to change medical malpractice, that does not make the victim pay the price.
One of the problems with how medical errors are treated is that the doctors and hospitals simply never apologize when they make a mistake. When a family member goes looking for answers after a problem medical treatment, they are offered little sympathy and little information on what went wrong. Instead, they are often forced to resort to litigation to force the hospital to answer questions.
According to an article by CNN Health, there are many cases where a simple apology could go a long way to resolving a case of alleged malpractice. In one case where a doctor removed the wrong rib of a patient during surgery, the patient ended up suing the doctor because no one apologized, and someone even tried to cover-up the mistake.
Most states have even enacted what are known as “I'm sorry” laws, which allow a doctor to offer an apology without fear that the statement will be used as an admission of guilt. Illinois is one of the states that have not yet enacted an “I'm sorry” law.
Others are looking to Denmark for options on medical malpractice reform. In the 1990s, Denmark reformed their medical malpractice system to address the problem of uncompensated and under-compensated victims. Instead, they shifted to a no-fault system which was focused on compensating injured patients instead of penalizing the health care providers.
While there are benefits and drawbacks to each system, according to one doctor, a no-fault system makes it easy for patients and doctors to communicate when a mistake has been made. “It's not easy to discuss a mistake,” said Dr. Ole Hamberg, “but there has to be a very safe relationship between doctor and patient. The most important thing in patient safety is to talk about it.”
Different states and even different countries take varying approaches to the issue of medical malpractice. Limiting how much a family can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit will not help the victims, and will not do anything to stop doctors from negligently harming patients. However, the problem may improve if doctors are more transparent about medical errors, and communicate with patients when things go wrong.
If you or a family member has been injured due to a medical error, it is important to speak to an experienced Illinois medical malpractice attorney so you can get compensated for your injuries. Your attorney can make sure the doctor and hospital are held accountable and give you the answers you are looking for. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.