The endocrine system produces and distributes essential hormones throughout our bodies that regulate our metabolisms, blood pressure, fertility, bone structure, cognitive function and more. Endocrinologists treat patients suffering from hormone imbalances when their primary care physicians are unable to effectively assist them in managing their conditions or when the underlying causes of symptoms are in question. The poor management of some hormone related conditions can have dire consequences, resulting in debilitating injuries that permanently reduce quality of living. The Chicago endocrinologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers fight on behalf of those who endured serious harm due to delays in diagnosis or treatment or the irresponsible management of their conditions.
Conditions Treated by Endocrinologists
Right now there are only around 6,000 endocrinologists in the United States and there is an increasing demand for their expertise due to the increasing number of people suffering from thyroid disease and diabetes. Both of these conditions are directly linked to the production of important hormones and represent the most common problems diagnosed and treated by endocrinologists today. They also treat disorders affecting the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, ovaries and testicles.
Some of the conditions an endocrinologist may diagnose and help patients manage include the following.
- Diabetes — while most diabetics manage their condition with the assistance of a primary care physician, endocrinologists may also be consulted in cases where the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and conventional treatment methods are failing. In addition to poor insulin production, diabetics can develop insulin resistance, which makes it difficult to regulate blood sugar levels through the use of insulin.
- Growth and development disorders — the endocrine system produces hormones that regulate growth and aids in the growth of a child into full sized adult. Poor hormone production can result in delayed growth and a diminished capacity to heal after injuries or exertion.
- Problems with sexual development — abnormal testosterone and estrogen levels can have a negative impact on sexual development and lead to sexual dysfunction and infertility. They can also have an impact on energy levels, muscle repair and sexual drive.
- Hormone related weight problems — the thyroid gland regulates our metabolisms through the production of hormones that signal the body to burn or store calories. When the thyroid is not working properly, it can result in weight gain despite healthy eating habits and activity levels. Other hormones such as insulin and testosterone also play a role in weight management, as they are both released following strenuous activity as signals for the body to send glucose and other resources to the cells for the purpose of nourishment and repair. When insulin and testosterone levels are out of synch, it can cause the body to excessively store or burn calories.
- Infertility and impotence — sexual dysfunction and impotence in adults is often linked to hormone imbalances and endocrinologists may be able to help patients by determining the cause of the problem or helping bring their hormones back to normal levels.
- Bone disorders — hormone levels can have an impact on bone structure and density, so an endocrinologist may be consulted if a patient is suffering from low bone density, known as osteoporosis.
- Pituitary dysfunction — the pituitary gland activates the other glands in the body and helps manage growth, fertility and the elimination of waste. When it is not working properly, patients can experience renal failure, menstrual problems and sexual dysfunction.
- High blood pressure — there are many potential causes for hypertension; one of which is a hormonal imbalance. When evaluating a patient with high blood pressure, tests are run to determine whether the adrenal glands are producing too much aldosterone before treating the condition with medications meant for cardiovascular diseases.
- Cancer — endocrinologists are instrumental in the diagnosis of cancers that reside in the endocrine glands, such as thyroid cancer.
What it takes to Become an Endocrinologist
After completing medical school and receiving a doctor’s degree in medicine or osteopathy, those seeking a career in endocrinology must obtain board certification in internal medicine and endocrinology in addition to acquiring a fellowship certificate in endocrinology. In order to acquire these credentials, a doctor must complete a three year residency program in internal medicine and then spend another three years completing an endocrinology fellowship.
The process varies slightly for those wishing to practice pediatric endocrinology, as the residency in internal medicine is replaced by a three year residency in pediatric medicine. These doctors specialize in the treatment of childhood diabetes and birth and growth hormone dysfunction. After completing all other requirements, all endocrinologists must pass examinations in their areas of expertise to complete their certification. They must then commit to continued education and exhibit retention of their knowledge and skills through recertification at routine intervals.
An average endocrinologist earns over $218,000 per year and additional certifications and memberships in accredited medical organizations provide the potential to earn much more. Our Chicago endocrinologist malpractice lawyers believe that doctors in specialized fields need to take added care to ensure that they diagnose and treat their patients in a timely manner and that they have the responsibility to provide compensation to those who are injured due to an error or misdiagnosis.
Actions Taken by Endocrinologists that could be Considered Medical Malpractice
The two most common conditions treated by endocrinologists also have extreme consequences if they are mismanaged. Diabetes can have an impact on every major system in the body, from nervous function to immune function to heart health. Thyroid disease can also affect the immune system and can play a role in birth defects, mental health issues and the development of cancer.
Most malpractice claims against endocrinologists stem from a delayed diagnosis or simple mismanagement of the condition. Examples include the following.
- The mismanagement of diabetes. Many of the people who have diabetes are unaware and the condition causes progressive damage over time. Failure to diagnose a patient with diabetes can lead to the eventual amputation of feet or legs, blindness, heart disease and renal failure. Even patients undergoing treatment can suffer complications and need to be monitored regularly to ensure that they are not at risk of experiencing severe swings in glucose levels.
- The mistreatment of hypertension. Untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels throughout the entire body, eventually placing strain on the kidneys, heart and brain. Potential injuries resulting from undiagnosed hypertension can include stroke, heart failure, dementia, kidney failure and hemorrhaging.
- Failure to diagnose osteoporosis. One third of women and one out of five men over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis, which is the reabsorption of bone back into the body. It results in lowered bone density and weakened joints and is the cause of many severe bone fractures. Elderly patients can experience intense pain due to this condition and may even lose their mobility. A delay in diagnosis and poor management of osteoporosis may also result in the need for surgery.
- The mismanagement of thyroid disease. Delayed or missed diagnoses of thyroid problems can impact the ability of patients to fight infections and fight the advance of cancer. It can also be the cause of birth defects and deformities.
- Failure to educate patients about their conditions and course of treatment. Many conditions affecting hormone production require treatment plans that incorporate changes in lifestyle with the addition of medications. When patients are not properly instructed on how and when to take their medications and what changes they need to make to their diet and activity habits, it can result in the worsening of their conditions.
Most of the conditions endocrinologists treat can be diagnosed after obtaining blood samples and routine blood tests can determine the efficacy of treatment. The failure to order a test or the misinterpretation of the results can have a significant impact on the patient’s health now and in the future.
What to Expect from an Endocrinology Malpractice Lawsuit
Since hormone imbalances can lead to serious autoimmune problems, heart disease, renal failure, loss of vision and more, it is important to determine the exact cause of your injury when considering whether it was due to medical negligence. Endocrinologists usually work cooperatively with the primary care physicians who refer patients to them upon determining the need for more specialized care. It is important that they communicate effectively with the referring doctors and patients as poor communication is the common denominator in many malpractice cases.
If you suspect that you suffered an injury due to your doctor’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation for the cost of medical treatment in the present and future for any complication resulting from the original injury. Damages can also include the wages and opportunity lost if you are unable to return to work and if you suffer an injury that permanently alters your quality of living— such as an amputation, blindness, cancer or severe fracture.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has worked with thousands of medical malpractice victims and we can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Our medical law team has the resources and knowledge needed to give you the best chance of securing damages.
Contact us today to arrange a free meeting with one of our award winning Chicago endocrinologist medical malpractice attorneys so that we can gather all of the information we need to conduct an investigation into the events surrounding your injury. We will then be able to review your legal options with you and answer your questions so that you know what to expect from us as we handle your claim. We work on a contingency basis only, so you are guaranteed that if we fail to collect compensation on your behalf, our services will be free of charge.