Urologists are instrumental in the treatment and prevention of diseases that affect the urinary tract and are capable of performing surgical procedures when required to remove obstructions, treat cancer or for the treatment of male infertility. They are responsible for helping patients manage their conditions while promoting ways to prevent further complications. Their failure to properly diagnose or treat patients can have devastating consequences, however, and the Chicago urologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are committed to representing the rights of those who suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to preventable medical errors or missed diagnoses.
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 they enjoy lucrative salaries and benefits, but 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 and students may choose a path in medicine or osteopathy before entering a five year long residency program in urology. Surgical skill and knowledge is 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 and 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, and 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 and 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 women will have one at some point in their lives and they may spread the infection to their sexual partners. An 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 an 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 an 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 an 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 an 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.
Learn About Your Rights during a Urology Malpractice Case Review
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers 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 so that 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.