Urologists are instrumental in the treatment and prevention of diseases that affect the urinary tract. They are capable of performing surgical procedures when required to remove obstructions, treat cancer or male infertility. They are responsible for helping patients manage their conditions while promoting ways to prevent further complications. However, their failure to properly diagnose or treat patients can have devastating consequences.
The Chicago urologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to representing the rights of those who suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to preventable medical errors or missed diagnoses. Contact our office today for a free review of your legal rights and options regarding urological malpractice.
Urologists are Specialists in Short Supply and High Demand
There are just shy of 12,000 urologists throughout the United States, which is an insignificant number compared to the millions of patients seeking their guidance and care. It is for this reason that they enjoy lucrative salaries and benefits. Before they can practice as urologists, they must complete extensive educational and training requirements. The typical urologist will spend over a decade of his or her life dedicated to learning the skills needed to perform effectively.
Every urologist’s journey begins with medical school. These students may choose a path in medicine or osteopathy before entering a five-year-long residency program in urology. Surgical skill and knowledge are important in the field, which is why the first two years of residency is devoted to acquiring general surgical experience and knowledge. The last three or four years place an added focus on urology and resident doctors begin to work with urological patients under the guidance of experienced urologists during this time.
After completing residency, urologists may wish to pursue one of a number of fellowship programs which allow them to further specialize in areas such as male fertility, female urology, pediatric urology, renal transplantation or urologic oncology. The average urologist may make around $344,000. Yet, there is the potential to earn a lot more depending on whether the individual is board certified or a member of any reputable medical organizations.
With such lucrative pay should come added responsibility. Our Chicago urology malpractice lawyers believe that it is only right for these specialists to be accountable for the toll their mistakes take on their patients.
Procedures Commonly Performed by Urologists
Urologists help patients suffering from diseases and disorders affecting the urinary tract and, by extension, the kidneys. This may include sexual diseases and complications as well as fertility concerns in male patients. The numerous types of procedures they may perform and the conditions they treat include the following.
- Prostate examination — one out of every three men will experience some form of complication due to an enlarged prostate in his life and urologists routinely perform prostate exams to detect abnormalities which may contribute to frequent urination, incontinence, and other concerns. Among these concerns is the prospect of prostate cancer, which may be detected early if men begin routine prostate exams at an appropriate age.
- Diagnosis of UTI — urinary tract infections are more common in women than in men, but everyone is at risk of developing one. It is estimated that half of all women will have one at some point in their lives and they may spread the infection to their sexual partners. A urologist can diagnose and treat this condition through the administration of medications and careful monitoring of the patient’s progress.
- Diagnosis and treatment of stones in the urinary tract — urologists can order diagnostic imaging tests to determine whether a patient is suffering from a kidney or bladder stone. When the stone is inside the kidney or ureter and is too large to pass naturally, the urologist may remove the stones through traditional surgical methods or attempt to break the stone into smaller pieces by performing an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.
- Diagnosis and treatment of cancer — urologists are able to treat cancers of both genders’ urinary tracts, including cancers of the bladder, kidney, prostate, testicles and some cancers of the female urinary tract. Most women are more comfortable being referred to a gynecologist for the treatment of these conditions, but a urologist is able to provide advice and treatment in a cooperative relationship with the other specialist.
- Treatment of sexual dysfunction — there are numerous forms of sexual dysfunction men and women of varying ages may experience. For men, these can include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and penile fibrosis. Most women choose to see a gynecologist for the treatment of their dysfunctions, but a urologist is perfectly capable of treating them if they desire it.
- Treatment of congenital defects — children with birth defects such as hypospadias and epispadias will receive treatment from a urologist, who may use a range of medical or surgical methods to alleviate symptoms or help the child cope with his or her condition.
- Interstitial laser therapy — this minimally invasive surgical procedure uses a small device to destroy abnormal tissue in the prostate through the delivery of concentrated heat. It is one of the ways that a urologist can treat an enlarged prostate or remove tumorous growths.
- Kidney transplant surgery — urologists may also perform kidney transplants for patients who are in renal failure. They normally work cooperatively with other specialists in these cases because patients in need of a kidney have often been placed on dialysis and a group of physicians may be working together to facilitate his or her care.
- Biopsies — when a doctor wishes to learn more about an abnormality or suspects a tumor may be cancerous, he or she will perform a biopsy to extract some tissue from the area and have it tested. A biopsy isn’t solely for the purpose of cancer diagnosis and may be able to identify other conditions or masses such as cysts and polyps.
- Vasectomy procedures — any man wishing to undergo a vasectomy or reversal of an earlier procedure will have the procedure performed by a urologist. It is an outpatient procedure that usually results in few complications and only minor discomfort.
- Treatment of male infertility — men who are suffering from infertility may work with a urologist to resolve the matter or find an alternative method of conceiving a child with their partners.
Poor Decision Making and Human Error are the Causes of Urology Malpractice
The delayed diagnosis of many urological and sexual diseases can have dire consequences, from the loss of fertility to the spread and development of cancer and more. When determining whether any doctor acted in a negligent fashion, evidence needs to be presented proving that the physician breached his or her duty of care. In simpler terms, this means that the doctor must have acted in a manner that another more reasonable doctor would not have. Forms of urological malpractice can include the following.
- Failing to order tests in a timely fashion. Whenever a physician lacks conclusive information, he or she needs to order diagnostic tests in order to acquire the information needed to provide an accurate diagnosis. The result of a delayed diagnosis can be the advancement of cancer, the spread of infection or damage to the urinary tract or sexual organs.
- Misinterpreting test results. It is the responsibility of every doctor to review test results and question any information that seems suspect. While these tests are performed by radiologists or in laboratories, doctors should always communicate with the person performing the tests to come to a consensus concerning a diagnosis.
- Surgical errors. The many types of mistakes that can occur during surgery include the perforation of organs, operating on the wrong body part, making an unintended cut without repairing the damage, leaving materials or tools inside of the patient and improperly administering anesthetic medications.
- Failure to monitor patients properly during postoperative recovery. It is vital that patients are watched closely for signs of infection and other complications after any surgery and that preventative measures are taken to reduce the likelihood of a bacterial or fungal infection.
- Medication errors. Dosage mistakes, drug interactions and prescribing the wrong medication are all causes of serious side effects and injury. While the majority of these errors are minor, some can have devastating effects.
- Failure to educate patients on their conditions and the details of their treatment. Patients need to be given clear instructions concerning how and when to take medication in order to avoid injury and they need to understand the nature of their conditions in order to participate in their treatment plans.
When it comes to specialized care, doctors often work together as a team so that what one physician doesn’t catch, another will. Many of the cases of malpractice we’ve seen stem from poor communication and the failure of the doctor to order tests or seek a second opinion.
Sample Pulmonology Malpractice Verdicts & Settlements
$2,000,000 Settlement; Urology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This case arose from a relatively straightforward and common procedure. The patient was a middle-aged man. He visited a urologist for diagnosis related to urinary pain. The doctor elected to perform a TURP operation. That surgery attempts to relieve problems from an enlarged prostate. The operation went well. However, the urologist did not notice that the man was bleeding after the surgery. He did not get treated for it and the issue got worse. He went into cardiac arrest from the bleeding. He died not long after the surgery. His three adult children survived him. They brought a lawsuit against the urologist. They claimed he was negligent and liable for the wrongful death of their father. Their sought money for his pain, their loss, and the damages that arose including over $20,000 in medical bills and funeral costs. There was no real issue of fault in this case. The defendant urologist was clearly in the blame. The real focus was damages. After negotiations ended, the family received $2 million.
$1,810,000 Verdict; Urology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This case involved a lack of informed consent between the patient and urologist. The patient was a male in his middle thirties. He underwent a procedure to treat an inguinal hernia. During the course of that operation, the doctor decided the man’s only remaining testicle needed to be removed. He based his decision on a number of factors including its poor functioning and likelihood for cancer. The patient claimed the doctor did not have his consent to do this. He alleged this meant he could no longer have kids with his wife. Also, he said it led to reduced libido among other issues. The doctor shot back and said the consent form allowed him to enlarge the scope of the procedure if it was medically necessary. In the urologist’s view, it was medically necessary to do this. However, the jury did not agree. It awarded the plaintiff almost $2 million including $385,000 for pain; $1.25 million for disability; and $175,000 for disfigurement. This case highlights the need for urologists to obtain adequate and informed consent before every procedure. Failure to do can open them up to significant liability.
$1,808,075 Verdict; Urology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The patient in this matter was an elderly man in his early seventies. He saw his primary care doctor for a general check-up. Tests showed he had high PSA levels. This is normally an indicator for prostate issues such as cancer. The doctor referred him to a urologist. That doctor recommended a guided biopsy. That procedure carries the risk of infection because of E. coli in the rectum. Plus, the patient had many health issues that made it risky. If he got infected, he would have a hard time fighting it off. In fact, that is exactly what happened. The infection got into his blood system and urinary tract. Doctors attempted to remove the infected mass but that could not save him. He passed away not long after this chain of events. His family was left with the pain of his death and almost $500,000 in medical bills. They sued the urologist. Their complaint argued that a guided biopsy was inappropriate for a man of his age and health problems. They stated that the doctor should have run more tests first and properly warned them off the risks. The defendant urologist responded that she did warn them and that what happened was within the scope of foreseeable risks. The jury did not buy this argument. They awarded the family $1,808,075 for the wrongful death of their father. Of that money, $8,658 as for funeral bills; $429,418 was for medical bills; $200,000 was for disability; $1,070,000 was for pain and grief; and $100,000 was for lost society.
$511,837 Verdict; Urology Malpractice; Lake County, Illinois
This lawsuit involved surgical error on behalf of the urologist. The patient was a young man in his early thirties. He had to see the doctor because he had kidney stones. The urologist performed an operation to remove them. In the process of that procedure, the doctor cut his bladder. This caused an extravasation with his urine. This condition causes a buildup of urine. It creates a lot of pain and discomfort. The patient here also suffered neuralgia. This last for several years. It was not corrected until he had surgery over five years later. The man sued his urologist for the harm and expense of the ordeal. The defendant doctor said that this complication is standard for kidney stone surgery. Also, he responded that whatever errors he made did not contribute to the neuralgia. He remained committed to his defenses. A jury had to sort out the matter. They found for the plaintiff. They awarded him $62,000 for disability, $385,000 for pain; and $64,837 for medical bills.
Learn About Your Rights Urology Malpractice Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has helped thousands of clients recover the compensation they were entitled to after being injured at the hands of careless physicians. If you believe that your injuries were the result of malpractice, we would be happy to conduct an investigation to determine whether you have a case.
Contact us today to arrange your free consultation with one of our award-winning Chicago urologist medical malpractice attorneys. We can gather all of the information we need to begin working on your behalf. We will let you know more about your legal options and answer any questions you have about the legal process so that you know exactly what you can expect from working with us. Since we work on a contingency basis, you are also guaranteed that you will not be required to pay any upfront legal costs and our services will be free if we are unable to recover compensation on your behalf.