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According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the University of Illinois has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a medical malpractice claim alleging a surgical error that resulted in catastrophic brain injury to a young child in the Chicago area. The parties reached a proposed settlement, according to the article, just before the case was set to go to trial. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff (the toddler's mother) alleges that a pediatric surgeon at the University of Illinois's Chicago hospital "used a suturing device that severed the boy's pulmonary artery" in a surgery designed to repair a leak in his esophagus.

The proposed settlement included a total of $30 million. The University of Illinois will pay $10 million, while the Rush University Medical Center—also a Chicago facility where the pediatric surgeon operated on the child—will pay $20 million of the total. How common are surgical errors like the one reported here? And is this a common settlement amount in medical malpractice cases?

Learning More About Surgical Errors

Did you know that more than 4,000 preventable surgical mistakes happen every year? That is the figure provided by an article in WebMD Health News. These errors often are referred to as "never events," meaning that they are avoidable and never should happen. A report from the Patient Safety Network explains that the most common surgical mistakes include the following:


If we think about a typical medical malpractice claim, we are likely to imagine a situation in which a patient suffered a physical harm as a result of a healthcare professional's negligence. Yet according to a recent article in NPR, medical negligence cases may also extend to medical privacy violations in which an entirely different type of injury occurs. Indeed, data breaches can cause serious harms to patients and may in fact amount to medical malpractice.

How do data breaches impact patients, and who is liable when there is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

Patient Injuries Caused By Data Breaches

In our current age of technology and social media, violations of patient privacy can have very real effects in a patient's life. For instance, the NPR article discusses a situation in which a patient visited her doctor's office and soon thereafter experienced a serious breach of her privacy rights. The patient logged onto Facebook to discover a message that pertained to private information in her medical files. The public post exclaimed, "PPL WORLD WIDE," the patient "IS HPV POSITIVE!." The social media post not only gave the patient's full name alongside information about her human papillomavirus diagnosis, but it also "included her date of birth." Human papilloma virus, the article explains, is "a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts and cancer."

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