Experts in Medical Case Allowed to Testify Regarding Cause of Death Even Though There Were Multiple Causes

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complicated because they involve a highly specialized knowledge of medicine and medical care. In a recent case, a medical malpractice claim was filed against a woman’s doctors after she died while in their care. The woman went to the emergency room at a hospital to seek medical treatment. The emergency room doctor ordered tests and diagnosed the woman with an incarcerated hernia and possible bowel obstruction, and he tried to reduce the hernia.

SurgeonThe ER doctor then called the woman’s primary care physician, who told him to call another surgeon. The surgeon came and reduced the woman’s hernia, and the woman was admitted to the hospital. On the following morning, the woman went into septic shock and experienced cardiac arrest, for which she was resuscitated. She then went into surgery to address a perforated bowel. The woman was then given medication for her blood pressure. Subsequently, her primary care physician switched her to a different medication. Suddenly, the woman’s blood pressure dropped, and she died.

A medical malpractice claim was filed against the woman’s medical providers. The defendants wanted to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs’ two expert witnesses. They argued that the witnesses had not sufficiently testified as to the cause of the woman’s death, as required under the Daubert case. Under the Daubert case, a U.S. Supreme Court decision, an expert’s scientific testimony must be based on reasoning or methodology that is valid and can be appropriately applied. The factors to consider are whether the theory has been or can be tested, whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication, its error rate, its maintenance and standards, and whether it is generally accepted within the scientific community.

The trial court agreed and granted judgment for the defendants, but the state’s supreme court disagreed, holding that the experts did satisfy the requirements, allowing the case to proceed. Here, the doctors’ testimony relied on information from various peer-reviewed articles, personal clinical experience, and published studies. This information supported their theory that the medication given to the woman caused her to go into cardiac arrest, since the dosage was too high and given for too long. The court found that the testimony was based on sufficiently reliable methodology, and the experts did not need to testify that the medication was the sole cause of the woman’s death. Accordingly, their testimony had to be admitted.

Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice actions are claims that arise from negligent medical care. Since the negligent (or careless) conduct in these cases is so specialized, medical experts are almost always necessary. Medical experts often testify as to why the conduct was negligent and what the cause of the injury was. This testimony helps jurors who are not experienced in the practice of medicine to understand the issues in the case.

In Illinois, at the beginning of a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff needs to file an affidavit stating that he consulted with a medical expert who has practiced or taught in the previous six years in the same area of medicine at issue in the case. The plaintiff must also state that the medical expert is qualified in the area at issue as a result of demonstrated competence or experience. In addition, the affidavit must state that the medical expert determined that the basis for the lawsuit was reasonable.

Have You Been Injured Due to Negligent Medical Care?

If you have been injured due to negligent medical care, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice claims require a lot of specialized information, including medical experts who can testify about the care and the cause of the injury sufficiently, as required by the law. The Chicago lawyers at Moll Law Group are available to advise people who have suffered from a misdiagnosis, a surgical error, a birth injury, or another form of medical malpractice. Our attorneys understand the complexities involved in medical malpractice claims, including how to provide expert testimony. Contact us through our online form or call us at 312-462-1700 to arrange a free initial consultation.

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