Patient Rights & Recourse in Medical Malpractice

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As a patient, you have rights.

They are designed to protect you from undesired and undeserved medical outcomes.

If a healthcare provider violates these rights, you may be entitled to legal recourse. As a proactive patient or victim of medical malpractice, understanding these rights is integral to receiving fair compensation.

Patient Rights to Proper Healthcare

  1. Standard of Care
    The most important medical right you have is to receive medical care that meets or exceeds the applicable standard of care. The standard of care is defined as what a reasonably careful healthcare provider would do (or not do) under the same or similar circumstances. If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice, the first and most important step in determining whether you have a legitimate medical malpractice case is for a medical malpractice attorney to determine whether a healthcare provider violated the standard of care while treating you.
  2. Informed Consent
    You have the right to be fully informed about your medical condition, treatment options, potential risks, and alternatives before consenting to any medical procedure. When doctors administer care without receiving your proper informed consent, they violate the standard of care.
  3. Refusal of Treatment
    Even if your healthcare provider recommends a particular course of action, you maintain the right to refuse treatment. If a doctor or hospital proceeds despite your refusal – or without consulting you despite your decision-making capacity in a non-emergency situation – resulting in an injury, you may be a malpractice victim.
  4. Access to Medical Records
    Another important legal right which all patients possess is the right to access and review their medical records. Fostering transparency and allowing you to stay informed about your healthcare and treatment plans can help prevent instances of medical error, injury, and malpractice. If you request copies of your records, your healthcare provider is required to comply. Keeping detailed records can help you get a second opinion and determine what’s best for you.
  5. Privacy and Confidentiality
    Your medical history is your own business. Your right to keep your medical information confidential can be crucial to your privacy, health, and safety. Healthcare providers are obliged to disclose it only with proper consent from you or your proxy, or as mandated by law.

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Legal Recourse for Malpractice Victims

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  1. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
    If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you can file a lawsuit to hold the responsible healthcare providers accountable. To qualify, you must have suffered a serious injury as a direct result of medical care – and your attorney must be able to prove it was caused by negligence.
  2. Negligence Claims
    Medical negligence occurs when your doctor fails to meet the standard of care. Because the standard of care is circumstance-specific, i.e. what a reasonably careful doctor would do under the same or similar circumstances, proving that a healthcare provider breached the standard of care can be difficult. It requires a team of attorneys with a deep understanding of this complex area of law. It also often requires medical experts.
  3. Expert Testimony
    To establish the standard of care and prove that it was broken in a case of medical malpractice often hinges on the testimony of medical experts. An attorney with a medical background and medical training – like those at CHH – is more adept at communicating with these experts and drawing from them the testimony necessary to establish a negligence claim.
  4. Damages and Compensation
    You may seek compensation for damages resulting from your medical injury caused by negligence. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, as well as money damages for human loss like pain, suffering, and emotional distress incurred due to the negligence.
  5. Statute of Limitations
    There is a time limit for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. In Illinois, it’s 2 years from the date of the injury. If you discover your injury later on, you have no more than 4 years to file. Time is of the essence when it comes to researching and selecting your attorney and together determining if your case is winnable.

Understanding your rights to healthcare and legal recourse as a patient and victim is essential for protecting your health and quality of life. This knowledge allows you to be a proactive participant in your healthcare journey, ensuring your rights are respected and justice is delivered when the system falls short. By fostering awareness of these rights, CHH hopes to contribute to a healthcare environment that prioritizes patient well-being.

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At Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP, we represent Illinois clients in Chicago and throughout Cook County, including the cities of Cicero, Elgin, Schaumburg, Oak Park, Maywood, Berwyn, Elmhurst, Evanston, Skokie, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Palatine and Hoffman Estates. We also help clients in DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Will County and Winnebago County. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, CHH Law is the law firm with attorneys that can help.

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