31 Mar, 2023

Tired Doctors Cause Patient Injuries in Bloomington

Author Todd A. Strong

Doctor fatigue is a term used for a work-related syndrome that medical professionals suffer from. While fatigue is not unique to any one occupation in particular, if the job involves high-stress levels and potentially extreme interactions with people, then the likelihood of fatigue is even higher. A tired doctor has decreased effectiveness, and has increased chances of errors in diagnosing illnesses, errors in medical judgment, and increased errors in technical mistakes during medical procedures. When a doctor makes a mistake due to fatigue in Bloomington, a patient’s health and livelihood are at risk.

There can be many symptoms that indicate a medical professional is suffering from doctor fatigue, including emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced effectiveness, depression, depersonalization, cynicism, and suicidal thoughts.

a doctor with hands on his head and looked depressed
a doctor with hands on his head and looked depressed

Doctor Fatigue Puts Bloomington Patients at Risk

When you or your family is in need of medical care in Bloomington, you turn to medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and many others within the healthcare field. As patients, we can reasonably expect to be able to trust our doctors to resolve our health concerns. We also rely on them to perform their services to us using a certain degree of care and skill. Some medical professionals, however, do not live up to the set standard of care, causing harm to their patients, as well as contributing to the possibility of serious injuries or even permanent impairment.

In these cases, you as the injured party, or your injured family members, may be entitled to compensation for the damages you sustained because of these errors. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a negligent medical professional, you should speak with an experienced Bloomington medical malpractice attorney to determine the strength of your medical malpractice claim.

What Are the Basic Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim?

There are four basic elements of a medical malpractice claim that must be proven to obtain compensation for any damages that you have sustained. They are:

  • Duty of Care: There had to have been a formal doctor-patient relationship between you and the liable party. With no working relationship, there is no basis for your claim against the doctor.
  • Breach of Duty of Care: You have to prove that the doctor was negligent in regard to the care he or she provided to you. If you are not happy with the outcome of your treatment or the results of your surgery, that does not necessarily indicate negligence. A medical malpractice claim must prove that the doctor has failed to uphold a set standard of care.
  • Causation of Injuries: You must demonstrate how the doctor's negligence has led to injury or harm. This evidence has to have some sort of measurable harm or additional injury due to the doctor's negligence for your claim to be valid and for you to have any grounds to base a claim on.
  • Damages: Last, your medical malpractice claim must prove that your additional injuries resulted in actual damages. Damages can typically be proven by providing the medical expenses for the injuries that you sustained.

These four basic elements of a medical malpractice claim can be difficult to prove, especially if you don't know what the set standard of care is or if you are still recovering from the additional harm that befell you. Relying on a skilled attorney will give you the peace of mind to be able to recover fully while your representation pursues your claim to get you fair compensation.

Causes of Doctor Fatigue

Reports show that 63% of physicians surveyed described at least one symptom of burnout at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, which was an increase from 44% in 2017 and 46% in 2011. Doctor fatigue is further complicated by the fact that medical staffing hasn't been able to keep up with the increasing need for medical professionals in the healthcare system. Most doctors and surgeons work more than 40 hours per week. Many doctors work long shifts with irregular and overnight hours, and some are even on call once they leave their facility. Some doctors even have to travel between facilities to see and care for their patients. Fatigue may have a number of different causes, but in Bloomington, it is typically the result of a disproportionate workload, a loss of sleep, and excessive stress.

How Can Doctor Fatigue Cause Medical Errors?

Fatigue can have a significant impact on a person's ability to perform his or her job duties. Responses may be delayed, and cognitive function can be disrupted. Doctors and other medical staff are not exempt from the impact of fatigue. When a doctor is fatigued, there is a loss of cognitive function, impaired thought processes, impaired learning, memory defaults, and communication with others may become dysfunctional. These symptoms can be dangerous if it is your doctor who is fatigued.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. When medical errors aren't fatal, patients run the risk of sustaining disabilities, suffering from progressive illnesses, and contracting infections.

Most Common Errors Made by Doctors

A fatigued doctor can be linked to having a reduced quality of care, decreased patient safety, and lower patient satisfaction. While doctor fatigue can lead to a variety of adverse outcomes, there are common errors doctors are more likely to make when exhausted.

Fatigue can cause doctors to: 

  • Misdiagnose his or her patients
  • Improperly prescribe medications
  • Order too few or too many lab tests
  • Make mistakes on charts
  • Disregard the patient's medical history
  • Cause birth Injuries
  • Discharge a patient prematurely
  • Make surgical errors
  • Cause premature death in his or her patients

These mistakes can cause physical, mental, and financial harm to a doctor's patients and their families. Any of these errors may give an injured patient or his or her family grounds to sue the negligent healthcare provider, as well as any other negligent party, including the hospital.

How Long Do I Have to Sue a Fatigued Doctor for Malpractice?

There is a two-year time limit for filing medical malpractice claims in Illinois. This begins on the date the patient discovers or should have reasonably discovered the injury. Even if the injury was not discoverable right away, the injured party cannot sue a negligent doctor if more than four years have passed. Some exceptions do apply to the statute of limitations, however. Speaking with a malpractice attorney will help to ensure you do not miss any of these deadlines while you or our family recover from the medical mistake.

Who Is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Any medical professional can be held accountable in a medical malpractice claim if he or she deviates from the accepted standards of care. Paramedics, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and pharmacists can all be held liable for a medical malpractice in a claim. Specialized medical professionals, like neurologists and psychiatrists, can also be held accountable for negligence in their care of you. Even professionals that you regularly see, like your dentist or OB/GYN, can be held liable.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the average physician spends over 50 months of a 40-year career with unresolved, open malpractice claims. While medical malpractice can come in a wide variety of forms, a doctor, private hospital, or any healthcare provider may be held liable for medical malpractice if a patient suffers harm because of his or her substandard care.

What Damages Are Available in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Illinois law does not allow for the recovery of punitive damages (these are damages assessed in the legal process designed to punish a negligent party) in medical malpractice claims. If you do file a medical malpractice claim in Illinois, the law recognizes two types of compensatory damages.

  1. Economic damages - This covers compensation for medical bills, loss of income, diminished earning capacity, and other quantifiable costs/losses that are a result of the negligent party's conduct.
  2. Non-economic damages - These provide compensation for intangible harm you have suffered, including emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-financial costs. 

In Illinois, there are no damage caps for medical malpractice claims. As a victim of medical malpractice, you have the right to recover compensation for the value of both your economic and non-economic damages. A medical malpractice attorney can help calculate the value of both of these damages to ensure that you are able to recover from your injuries or losses.

Knowing who to trust after receiving a misdiagnosis or serious injury from negligence due to a fatigued doctor can be difficult. The attorneys at Strong Law Offices specialize in medical malpractice cases and know how to investigate medical malpractice claims that involve doctor fatigue. They will obtain results by taking the necessary legal steps to maximize compensation for you as a victim of medical malpractice. Additionally, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you gather the evidence necessary to prove the elements of malpractice in your case.

About The Author

author-bio-image
Personal Injury Lawyer Todd A. Strong Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.
Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State, 1994
U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 1994
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2022
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, 2023
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About The Author

author-bio-image
Personal Injury Lawyer Todd A. Strong Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.
Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State, 1994
U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 1994
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2022
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, 2023