A proctologist is a medical specialist who has the ability to treat numerous conditions affecting the intestines, colon, rectum and anal canal. These surgeons receive extensive training in the areas of general surgery and colorectal medicine so that they can accurately diagnose and treat serious conditions using medicine or surgical procedures. They are also responsible for performing routine examinations which may uncover complications or diseases suspected by other members of a patient’s healthcare team. The Chicago proctologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent the interests of people who received inadequate medical care or were injured due to mistakes in diagnosis or surgical errors.
Colorectal Surgeons Require Comprehensive Training and Experience
Anyone looking to enter a career in surgery needs to first dedicate a decade and a half to his or her medical training. Medical and technological advances also require them to commit to continued training in order to remain up to date on the latest procedures and medical treatments. The first step an aspiring proctologist must take is to complete medical school and earn a doctor’s degree in medicine or osteopathy. From there, they must enter a residency program; where they are paid while receiving instructions and experience working with real patients.
Most medical residency programs last three years or less, but surgeons must spend at least five years and up to six years working in residency before entering a fellowship program in their desired areas of practice. The general surgery residency teaches students how to operate on all areas of the body, so it is able to prepare all participants before they enter into specialized surgical fields.
A colorectal surgery fellowship program lasts up to two years and proctologists must become board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. Board certification requires a successful completion of a thorough examination which will test the knowledge and skills of the applicant. In order to maintain certification, proctologists must agree to take continued courses and retake the examination at routine intervals.
Colorectal surgeons command extremely lucrative salaries and the average proctologist will earn over $407,000 per year. Considering how difficult it is to become a surgeon and the expectations for the position, this pay scale is fair. It is reasonable, however, to expect these specialists to be accountable for the harm caused due to their errors in judgement.
The Role of Proctologists in Patients’ Care Plans
In most cases, a patient seeing a proctologist has already received a diagnosis from his or her primary care physician or another medical specialist or is referred for the purpose of further diagnostic evaluation. Proctologists use testing procedures such as ultrasounds, colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies to learn more about the nature of their patients’ medical concerns and to develop an appropriate course of treatment. Many of the conditions they treat will require some form of surgical procedure and include the following.
- Inflammatory bowel disease — this condition results in chronic digestive upset and other discomfort. It may also be referred to as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Irritable bowel syndrome — those with IBS may suffer from the frequent need to go to the bathroom, frequent diarrhea, upset stomach and nausea. It is often related to stress, but can also be due to problems in the digestive tract.
- Bowel incontinence — as the name suggests, this condition is defined as the inability of the sufferer to control his or her bowel function, resulting in embarrassing accidents.
- Colon polyps — when performing a colonoscopy, a proctologist can locate growths in the colon and remove them. These polyps are then evaluated to assess the patient’s risk for cancer and other conditions.
- Hemorrhoids — using techniques such as hemorrhoidal banding and excising procedures, colorectal surgeons can remove and treat the causes of hemorrhoids.
- Trauma to the digestive tract — injuries resulting from trauma may cause damage to the intestines or bowels and a surgeon may need to repair the damage to either save the patient or to address complications that are arising from the original injury.
- Colorectal cancer — most colorectal patients receive a combination of treatments that can include chemotherapy and radiation before and after the surgical removal of the tumor. In some cases, the patient will require a colostomy, which allows the evacuation of the bowel through a bypass and into a bag for disposal. While some patients are able to have the colostomy reversed, others must live with it for the remainder of their lives.
Proctologists usually serve as members of larger healthcare teams and need to maintain constant communication with the other doctors evaluating the patient’s health and progress. It is also important that they obtain the right information about their patients’ medical histories, current medications, lifestyles and past examinations. Without accurate or complete information, it is possible for doctors to perform the wrong procedures, prescribe the wrong medications and fail to order the right tests.
Forms and Causes of Colorectal Surgeon Malpractice
Colorectal surgery is considered high-risk and most patients are informed of the risks before agreeing to proceed. Our Chicago colorectal surgery malpractice lawyers handle many cases that are the result of poor follow up, failing to recognize complications and injuring the patient during the surgery. Proctologists can also influence diagnoses when they perform diagnostic tests such as colonoscopies and their failure to accurately interpret the results may result in serious harm.
Here are the main forms and causes of proctology malpractice.
- Poor understanding of patient’s medical history. This can stem from poor communication with the patient or with the healthcare team in general and may have devastating consequences.
- Poor communication with patient concerning his or her treatment plan and expectations. Patients need to be involved in their treatment and recoveries, but they need to be educated in order to do their part. Many injuries are due to the failure of doctors to let their patients know when and how to take medicines, what lifestyle changes need to be made during and after recovery and how to notice and report complications.
- Errors while performing a surgery. Surgeries do not always go as planned and it is possible for surgeons to perforate organs while operating on their patients. It is extremely important that they notice these errors because there are plenty of things that can be done to repair the damage and prevent further complication as long as the issue is noticed before the surgical wound is closed. It is far more likely for the patient to suffer serious or permanent injury when the error goes unnoticed.
- Failure to provide adequate aftercare following an invasive procedure. High-risk procedures carry with them the likelihood of complications and many of these complications can be addressed if the healthcare team is aware of them. The failure to monitor patients and perform routine follow up appointments opens the path to a wide range of issues and increases the chances that the patient will be readmitted to the hospital.
- Failure to take a proactive approach to the prevention of infections. All surgical procedures open the patient up to the possibility of getting an infection. It is fortunate that many infections can be treated through regimens of medications with little complication. Undetected infections can cause huge problems, however, including damage to major organs and the spread of the bacteria into the bloodstream.
- Performing a procedure on the wrong location. In addition to failing to address the original concern, operating on the wrong location can have catastrophic consequences.
When patients do not receive the quality of care that is expected of highly skilled medical specialists, they may be able to file claims for medical malpractice. This can allow them to recover the compensation they need to recoup medical expenses, account for lost wages, pay for out of pocket costs and cover the costs of adjusting to a new quality of living. Patients’ pain and suffering is also considered when evaluating the value of a claim.
Proctology Malpractice Awards
$4,500,000 Settlement; Proctology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The patient here was only fifty-nine years old. He visited with his colorectal doctor on a number of occasions. Apparently, he needed to reverse and undo a prior colostomy. During the course of these visits, the proctologist told his staff not to put any instrument or anything else into his rectum. Despite these warnings, nurses put a thermometer into his rectum over twenty times. On one of these occasions, they cut his colorectal anastomotic line. This had a number of immediate and important consequences. He developed sepsis and organ failure. Then, he died a few days later. His wife and several children survived him. They sued the doctors, nursing staff, and facility. They argued that but for their negligence, he would not have died. He had a long life to life. He was happily employed with the CTA. They wanted justice and compensation for this loss. In the end, they did receive a large settlement. The hospital gave them $4.5 million. Much of that (over $500,000) was to cover his lost wages. The rest was for grief, suffering, and related losses.
$2,897,000 Verdict; Proctology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This case was a matter of a wrong procedure. The plaintiff was a 62-year-old female. She needed surgery to fix her prolapsed rectum. The doctor performed a laparoscopic anterior resection. He removed some of her rectal reservoir. That led to a number of problems. She had bowel incontinence. She had to get a permanent colostomy. Still, her bowel was obstructed. These issues kept her from work and she was eventually let go from her job. She sued the doctor. She claimed that he should have done a rectopexy (also called a proctopexy). Her complaint listed various damages including lost wages (over $50,000), medical bills (over $500,000), pain, disability, and disfigurement to name a few. The defendant doctor argued that he performed the procedure reasonably. He also replied that it was a fine choice for the circumstances. He took these objections all the way to a jury but it did him no good. They found for the woman and awarded her over $2 million for pain ($250,000), suffering ($250,000), lost normal life ($500,000), distress ($500,000), disfigurement ($250,000), medical bills ($1 million) and lost earnings ($147,000).
$1,367,500 Verdict; Proctology Malpractice; Winnebago County, Illinois.
The plaintiff in this case was twenty-five. Doctors performed a laparoscopic procedure but failed to remove the laparatomy pad. The patient came back nearly six months later complaining of pains around the area of surgery. Doctors performed a CT-scan and identified the problem. The issue though was that this had triggered ulcerative colitis. The plaintiff later claimed that this condition would a cause a lifetime of pain and require lots of medical care. The defendants disagreed and would not settle. After a trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff more than $1 million. Of this amount, $50,000 was for disfigurement; $260,000 was for medical expenses; $314,000 was for distress; $467,250 was for suffering; and $276,250 was for lost normal life.
$750,000 Verdict; Proctology Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The plaintiff in this lawsuit was fifty-seven. He had resection surgery performed on his colon to remove a tumor. During the procedure, the doctor clipped a nerve. That caused the patient to be impotent. He suffered from erectile dysfunction and could not have sexual relations with his wife. They sued the doctor. They alleged he negligently diagnosed and performed the operation. Consequently, the man suffered extreme pain and the woman experienced lost relations. The defendant doctor replied that this was a known risk. Also, he argued that he operated within the proper standard of care. However the plaintiffs disagreed. They refused to settle. Fortunately, the jury agreed with them awarded the man and his wife $750,000. Of that total, $250,000 was for lost normal life; $250,000 was for suffering and pain; and $250,000 was for lost consortium.
How Our Proctology Malpractice Lawyers can Help
If you were injured and believe that your doctor is at fault, your choice of legal representation will have the greatest impact on the outcome of your case. It is important that you consider lawyers with specific experience on cases similar to your own so that you are confident they have the ability to win or settle your case with your best interests at heart. This will ensure you have the greatest chance of not only winning your case, but recovering the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a leading personal injury law firm serving clients throughout all of Illinois. We have a medical law team dedicated solely to representing clients who have been injured due to medical malpractice and have access to resources such as experienced medical experts who can determine whether your doctor was liable for your injuries and provide valuable insights and testimony. We can also connect you with quality specialists who can treat your injuries and help you facilitate your physical recovery.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our award winning Chicago proctologist medical malpractice attorneys so that we can gather all of the information we need to launch an investigation. From there, we can review your legal options and let you know what you can realistically expect if you choose to pursue a case. In order to ensure that anyone who needs our services can have access to an attorney, we work on a contingency basis, which means we only accept payment after collecting compensation on your behalf. If we fail to do so, our services are free of charge.