Medical Malpractice Claims
When we are injured or ill, we trust physicians, nurses and other members of the hospital’s medical staff with our well-being, our health and our very lives, and most often these professionals strive to provide quality care.
Unfortunately, though, some patients will receive care from a medically negligent healthcare provider: Physicians who provide medical care while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who fail to follow protocol, who operate on the wrong body part or perform the wrong procedure. When medical negligence occurs, the patient and his or her family may wonder who will cover their medical expenses and how the income that is lost as a result of a permanent disability or death will be replaced.
If you have been hurt as a result of medical negligence, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation. Christopher Dixon has helped thousands of injury victims fight for the reimbursement of their harms and losses. Chris is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association and provides aggressive legal representation for the injured.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Today’s hospital system places profits ahead of people in many instances. Good doctors are forced to see large numbers of patients to increase the hospital systems bottom line. This factory like system causes unnecessary errors. In 1999, a now-famous report released by the Institute of Medicine revealed that as many as 98,000 hospital patients were dying each year as a result of medical errors.
Some of the most common categories of medical malpractice lawsuits are:
- Wrong diagnosis or misdiagnosis
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors
- Injuries sustained during delivery.
To be held liable for the injuries, a physician, nurse or hospital staffer must be found to have deviated from the standard of care provided by those with similar training and experience.
Surgical Errors by Doctors
A patient undergoing surgery must trust that the surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses and other medical professionals will carry out the procedure with the appropriate care. Unfortunately, this trust is sometimes misplaced: Preventable surgical errors in the operating room do occur. According to one recent study, surgeons operate on the wrong part of the patient’s body at least 40 times a week in the United States.
Experts cite several causes for surgical errors:
- Mixing up the right side and left sides of the body
- Operating on a patient who was accidentally given another patient’s test results
- Marking the wrong vertebra for spinal surgery
- Failing to mark the surgical site altogether
- Increased time pressures
- Failure of surgeons to follow checklists
It is well knows that surgeons typically value their autonomy. As a result, they resist working in teams and following checklist protocols. Moreover, many surgeons underestimate their capacity for error; therefore increasing the incidence of medical malpractice. However, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons warns that an orthopediss has a 25 percent chance of making a wrong-site error during his or her career.
In 2004, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued rules meant to reduce such surgical errors as:
- Amputating the wrong body part
- Performing the wrong procedure
- Operating on the wrong patient
Despite the increased awareness of surgical errors and these efforts to reduce their incidence, the rate of wrong-site surgeries has increased, according to a story published jointly by the Washington Post and Kaiser Health News.
Misdiagnosis by Doctor or Health Care Professional
When you’re sick, the first step toward getting better is figuring out what’s wrong. When a doctor misdiagnoses an illness, a patient not only loses the opportunity to heal quickly but also runs the risk of complications and even death. After all, the best treatment regimen in the world is not going to help if it is the wrong treatment.
Incident of Misdiagnosis
In one study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, incorrect diagnoses accounted for 17 percent of medical errors – and in a survey performed by the National Patient Safety Foundation, 40 percent of respondents believed that their illnesses had been misdiagnosed.
Under the law, physicians and other health care professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. This means that the professional must act in a reasonable manner consistent with that of a medical professional of the same training who receives the same information about the patient. A doctor who acts unreasonably on the basis of the information provided may be sued for medical malpractice.
What is considered a wrong diagnosis?
Misdiagnoses involve a variety of scenarios:
- Diagnosing a disease or disorder in a healthy person. This error may result in unnecessary or even harmful treatment.
- Failing to diagnose a disease or disorder in someone who is sick. In some instances individuals with cancer have been told that they’re healthy, allowing the disease to advance untreated and unchecked until it’s at an advanced stage.
- Diagnosing the wrong disease in someone who is sick. A classic example is a woman experiencing a heart attack who is told that she is simply suffering from heartburn or indigestion.
What are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases?
Several medical conditions are often missed or misdiagnosed:
- Bacterial meningitis
- Breast cancer
- Heart attack
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Pulmonary embolism
How can you protect yourself from an incorrect diagnosis?
Patients rely on the expertise of their physicians, but even without a medical background patients can take certain measures to protect themselves from a misdiagnosis.
- Ask Questions. Once a doctor provides a diagnosis, ask what other diseases are possible in light of your symptoms. This will allow you to conduct additional research after an appointment.
- Get a Second Opinion. This is important if you have been told that you are healthy but still feel there is something wrong or if you have received a diagnosis that will involve extensive treatment.
- See a Specialist. If a general practitioner provides a diagnosis, you may want to seek a second opinion from a specialist who is better able to determine whether your symptoms match the diagnosis. A specialist can also provide additional information on your treatment options.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Missouri
The time allowed under Missouri law to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is limited. Generally a medical malpractice case must be filed within two years of the date of occurrence. If the medical negligence claim involves a foreign object that was left in the body, the suit must be filed within two years of when the object was discovered.
If a loved one dies as a result of medical malpractice, Missouri law requires that the wrongful death lawsuit be filed within three years of the death.
Within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Missouri, the plaintiff must file an expert affidavit stating that a written opinion has been obtained from a legally qualified healthcare provider regarding the defendant’s negligence. The expert must conclude that the defendant failed to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful healthcare provider would have under similar circumstances and that such failure to use such reasonable care directly caused or directly contributed to cause the damages claimed in the petition (RSMo. Section 538.225 ).
Compensation available in medical malpractice lawsuits is often divided into compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages typically cover such items as past and future medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is considered willful, wanton or malicious.
We offer free consultations to all injury victims and the families of those wrongfully killed. To discuss your case, contact Chris Dixon as soon possible to prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed. Our personal injury lawyers are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 314-409-7060, or Toll-Free at 855-402-7274.