Medical malpractice law at center of debate in neighboring state

One of the most disheartening situations for any Illinois resident who is dealing with an illness is when their condition gets misdiagnosed. They put trust in their doctor in hopes of figuring out what is wrong with them only to learn, sometimes at a point that may be too late, that the doctor made a crucial mistake.

This topic is at the center of a debate between medical professionals and lawyers in our northern neighbor Wisconsin. A bill was signed into law last year that made it more difficult to sue doctors. The issue that at least one lawyer has is with one part of the bill specifically. That addition states that “a doctor cannot be found liable for failing to disclose treatment options for an ailment that the doctor did not diagnose.”

The bill appears to be a response to a lawsuit that involved a doctor who did not inform a patient about tests he could have taken to make sure he didn’t have a stroke after his face became paralyzed. The doctor had diagnosed the paralysis as a result of Bells Palsy, not a stroke, which would have been the right diagnosis. The man ended up having another stroke that led to even more paralysis.

While a spokesman for the Wisconsin Medical Society says the legislation was a good way to prevent “lawsuit madness,” the lawyer points out that there were only 117 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin last year, and that a person has only a one in 10 chance of winning against a doctor.

Although this is an out-of-state issue, it’s not uncommon for local legislatures to keep an eye on how new legislation in other states is shaping medical malpractice law when considering proposing new bills.

Source: The Cap Times, “Doctors vs. lawyers: Debate rages over state medical malpractice law,” March 1, 2014

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