Three Common Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice ranks as the third leading cause of death in the United States, and statistics show that 700 preventable deaths occur every day through misdiagnosis, wrong or botched treatment or follow-up, or just medical negligence.
Still more individuals may suffer untoward consequences because of medical malpractice but live to sooner or later discover that the results weren’t what were expected or promised. In both of these types of situations, the person or their loved one may have a legitimate cause for filing a malpractice lawsuit.
Malpractice lawsuits total at least 20,000 a year, with some estimates ranging much higher. According to statistics compiled by Justpoint, 26% of claims stem from a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, 24% from surgery errors, 28.5% from improper treatment, and 5.1 % from adverse drug events.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a malpractice event in Missouri or Kansas, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at the Denning Law Firm, LLC. Medical malpractice is a complex and complicated part of the law, and we will work to secure the proper evidence for your claim to meet all legal requirements.
We proudly serve clients in Kansas City, Missouri, but also in the surrounding areas of Johnson County, Kansas and Jackson County, Missouri.
Understanding Medical Malpractice in Kansas and Missouri
For someone to file a medical malpractice claim, the medical professional in question must have somehow strayed from the standards of care established by the profession. As the claimant, you must be able to show this departure from accepted standards using the legal standards set forth in the state where you reside. Kansas and Missouri have somewhat different, but also similar standards that need to be met for a successful lawsuit.
In Kansas, screening panels are relied upon, in the words of the State Supreme Court, to provide for “the early resolution of many medical malpractice claims without the expense and delay of actual litigation.”
A panel can be convened by either plaintiff or defendant before or after a lawsuit is filed. The panel can also be empowered by a court. The panel is composed of a group of medical professionals who will meet to confer and determine whether the health care professional committed malpractice.
In Missouri, plaintiffs are required to submit an affidavit from another medical professional who works in “substantially the same specialty” asserting in writing that medical practice has been committed. Unless the affidavit is submitted within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the case will generally be dismissed, according to Missouri Revised Statutes Section 528.225.
Both states have statutes of limitations for filing such lawsuits. In each state, the statute expires at two years from the incident, but the statute can be extended under certain circumstances, for instance, if the result isn’t apparent until after the surgery or medical malpractice event. If the medical malpractice results in the death of a loved one, the three year statute of limitations for wrongful death applies.
Kansas also has a clause for fraudulent concealment, by which the defendant deliberately conceals evidence of the malpractice. In Missouri, there is a continuing treatment exception. Under this, the clock does not start ticking until treatment for the underlying condition ceases.
Three Common Causes for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
As noted earlier, some 26% of medical malpractice claims result from a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Because medical misdiagnosis is not all that uncommon, it must lead to improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all in order to be actionable in a court of law.
A second cause for medical malpractice lawsuits is failure to provide the proper treatment even if the diagnosis is correct, which actually represents a slightly larger percentage than misdiagnosis at 28.5%. Again, for a lawsuit to result, improper treatment must result in injury.
A third cause of action in medical malpractice involves surgical errors, which account for 25% of actionable incidents. We’ve all heard tales of sponges left inside a surgical cavity, or worse, even medical instruments left behind. These stories make headlines, but even more serious errors can occur without such visible signs.
Who Can Be Sued?
Generally speaking, physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, psychologists, and even chiropractors can be sued. Hospitals also can be sued under the principle of respondeat superior if an employee of the hospital, whether a physician or otherwise, is responsible for the medical malpractice event. However, if a physician is an independent contractor working in the hospital, the hospital cannot be held liable.
Elements of Proving Medical Malpractice
A medical malpractice lawsuit hinges on the principle of negligence, which applies to a variety of incidents and accidents that result in injuries or death to others. Even in an automobile accident, if one driver is negligent, he or she can be liable for adverse events occurring to others. Likewise, a physician or other health care professional is bound by the rules of negligence.
The first element of a claim of negligence is that the defendant had a duty of care toward you, which physicians and medical care professionals definitely do. The four elements of a negligence/medical malpractice lawsuit are:
A professional duty owed to the patient;
Breach of such duty;
Injury caused by the breach; and
What Damages Available Are Available?
If successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can obtain compensation for the expenses involved – what you paid for your course of treatment – as well as lost wages. Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering and even loss of consortium are also available.
Caps on damages may pertain. In Missouri, noneconomic damages are capped depending on the severity of the injury or whether the malpractice resulted in death. In Kansas, damages are capped in malpractice actions which resulted in the death of a loved one.
Turn to the Denning Law Firm, LLC for Help
As you can see, a medical malpractice claim has some hurdles in the legal process that may not be present in other types of lawsuits. Generally, another medical professional must assess what happened and testify to whether it amounts to medical malpractice. For this, you’ll need the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney to navigate and expedite the legal process.
If you’re in the Kansas City area on either side of the border, rely on the attorneys and legal team at the Denning Law Firm, LLC to investigate your claim, assemble the professional assessment necessary, and then pursue your claim. Reach out immediately if you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice.