Madison County, Illinois, has been the subject of ridicule for a medical malpractice crisis. There is no crisis and never has been.
Over the past 10 years, there has been an average number of 5 medical malpractice cases each year that go to trial in Madison County, Illinois, and the significant majority of them result in verdicts for the physicians and hospitals. Unfortunately, this is far less than the perception of the public.
Why are there a limited number of medical malpractice cases filed? Under Illinois law, a case must be reviewed by a physician in the same field as the Defendant doctor or hospital, and this costs money – usually several thousand dollars. Most of the time, the review shows no malpractice – resulting in a loss to the client or attorney. In order to file suit, a physician’s affidavit explaining the malpractice must be attached to the complaint.
Once the claim is filed, the doctor or hospital will begin defending the case. The insurance companies for the doctors and hospitals normally have the case reviewed by a board of physicians, compred of 25 or more physicians. All of them will render an opinion as to whether or not there is malpractice and advise the insurance company of their opinions. Even if there is a consensus of malpractice, the physicians generally have the final say on whether or not to admit malpractice and pay the claim. They rarely do – sometimes out of ego.
For clients and Plaintiffs attorneys, the risk is great. The cost of hiring expert physicians is great, ranging between $20,000 and $50,000 to prosecute one case. A loss at trial means these costs will not be recovered.
Due to the risk and expense of these claims, small claims are cost prohibitive. Generally, there needs to be significant injury, such as a wrongful death, and clear liability. If liability is not clear, insurance companies will not pay. Moreover, juries will not find for a Plaintiff in a close case – they always side with the doctor or hospital.
For these reasons, no frivolous claims are made. Most personal injury attorneys will not handle this type of claim. Further, there are only a limited number of attorneys who can afford to prosecute this type of claim, and spend the significant time required to research the medicine and work with experts.
The fact of the matter is that medical errors occur in Madison County, Illinois, as well as across the country. The national trend of increasing deaths due to medical accidents is a fact. Hearst newspapers have recently reported that the rate of these deaths has increased since 1999. This figure is appalling.
The effect of malpractice on families can be great. Victims can be affected for the rest of their lives. Patients are entitled to good patient care, and medical malpractice claims keep physicians and hospitals in check.
One of the few firms that prosecutes these cases in Madison County, Illinois, and the St. Louis area is Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson of Alton, Illinois.
Currently, the firm has suits against local hospitals in Alton, Illinois and St Louis, Missouri, for medical mistakes that fall below the standard of care. One suit against St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Alton, is for allowing a patient to fall causing a brain injury and subsequent death. Another suit against Christian Northeast Hospital in St Louis, is for allowing a decubitus ulcer to form on a patient, also leading to the patient’s death. In another suit against Alton Multispecialists, a family has prosecuted a doctor for a baby delivery, which resulted in the infant suffering from shoulder dystocia….an injury to the nerves on the shoulder causing weakness and deformity to the arm.