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. It may result in debilitating injuries that permanently reduce the quality of living.
The Chicago endocrinologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC 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
There are only around 6,000 endocrinologists in the United States. 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. They represent the most common problems diagnosed and treated by endocrinologists today. Endocrinologists also treat disorders affecting the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testicles.
Some of the conditions an endocrinologist may diagnose and help patients manage their condition 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 a mature 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. They are both released following strenuous activity as signals from the body send glucose and other resources to 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. 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. An endocrinologist may be consulted if a patient is suffering from low bone density, called 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 of hypertension. One reason 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, they also must acquire a fellowship certificate in endocrinology. In order to obtain these credentials, a doctor must complete a three-year residency program in internal medicine. Then, they must 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. 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. They have the responsibility to provide compensation to those who are injured due to their errors or misdiagnoses.
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 and thyroid disease. 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 a 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. Also, 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.
Sample Endocrinology Malpractice Lawsuit Verdicts & Settlements
$675,000 SETTLEMENT; ENDOCRINOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The patient here went to the endocrinologist when she was just sixteen. The endocrinologist thought she had Graves’ disease and hypothyroidism. He prescribed her propylthiouracil (PTU). However, before prescribing that, the doctor did not test her liver for any abnormalities. A few months later, the girl came back to see the endocrinologist. She was not doing well. She had jaundice and hepatocyte necrosis brought on by toxicity from the PTU. The doctor quickly removed PTU from her regimen. Also, he had her get a liver transplant. Unfortunately, her body did not accept the new organ. She died just a few years later at the age of twenty-one. This action was against the doctor for wrongful death. The complaint cited the endocrinologist with negligence for failing to check her liver before prescribing PTU among other failures. The matter did not present in court. Both sides settled before that happened. The plaintiffs received $675,000 in damages.
$1,500,172 JURY AWARD; ENDOCRINOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The patient in the middle of this dispute was an elderly gentleman. He was in his mid-80s and lived in a nursing home. He had Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The latter condition demanded regular insulin treatments. Apparently, his endocrinologist did not know that. For some unknown reason, the doctor took him off that prescription. Three weeks later, the patient went into a hypoglycemic coma. Staff rushed him to the hospital. He stayed there almost one month. In the meantime, he suffered from pneumonia, sepsis, and other serious medical conditions. Plus, his bed sores were aggravated. There was some controversy over who ordered the insulin discontinuation. Eventually, the plaintiff’s lawyers could show that the endocrinologist demanded it. At that point, the outcome of the matter was not in doubt. The plaintiffs received the jury award noted above.
$166,374 JURY AWARD; ENDOCRINOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The man that brought this case was 57. He worked for the local city he lived in as a foreman. He had been on a hypothyroid medication for a number of years. For some undisclosed reason, his endocrinologist lowered the dosage of his prescription. This had a number of negative effects. He experienced depression. He could not sleep. He missed work. He had sexual dysfunction issues. Eventually, the issue was discovered. However, he still suffered from the pain and trauma of the mishap. For that and related losses, he brought suit against the doctor. He claimed various economic and non-economic damages. A jury awarded him $166,374 for his injuries.
$3,000,000 SETTLEMENT; ENDOCRINOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
A man in his late thirties went to see a doctor (endocrinologist) in 2007 because he had a number of problems including chest pain. The doctor ordered an EKG. He determined that the man’s pain was unrelated to cardiac issues. Despite that diagnosis, the patient still complained. Also, in his medical charts, he had a history of high cholesterol and (family) history of heart troubles. Yet, the doctor did not do any more testing. Two years later, the man died from sudden onset cardiac arrest. It was related to coronary disease. His wife and two kids survived him. They brought a wrongful death action against the doctor and the facility. They alleged that the pair were negligent and caused the early death of their beloved father and husband. The two sides settled in order to end the litigation. The plaintiffs received $3 million in settlement compensation.
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 LLC 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.