Illinois Supreme Court Must Strike Down Flawed Ruling Pertaining to Jury Instructions!

July 6, 2021

In a recent medical liability case in Illinois, a jury found that four physicians and a hospital were not negligent in their care of a woman who came into the emergency department for treatment, left the hospital against the recommendations of the healthcare professionals, and later passed away.

During the trial, the trial judge denied the plaintiff’s requests for the jury to consider instructions on:
  • Whether there was “lost chance” at a better medical outcome, which would allow the patient to ask for compensation if alleged medical negligence diminished the chance of survival. 
  • Informed consent as applied to the patient’s discharge, which would allow jurors to consider whether the patient was given enough information about what would happen if she went home rather than remain at the hospital.

The estate of the woman appealed, and the First District Appellate Court declined to follow longstanding Illinois precedent and reversed the trial court, ruling that the plaintiff should be given a new trial so that the jury can be given the two instructions to consider. The defendants appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Should the Illinois Supreme Court uphold the decision of the First District Appellate Court, it could have a chilling effect on the ability of Illinois physicians to effectively defend themselves at trial because it will result in lower legal standards for medical negligence claims, and will encourage speculative litigation when a patient succumbs to a disease. Stay tuned!
The Illinois Supreme Court ruling will be covered in a future edition of ISMIE News.

If you have questions, please contact the ISMIE Legal Division by email
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