Imagine you are hurt playing sports or engaging in other physical activity. Your doctor determines the injury is severe enough to warrant surgery and you go under the knife. After the operation is over and you have done physical therapy, you realize that your injury hurts more than before.
A follow-up examination shows that your operation actually worsened your injury rather than healed it. Making matters worse, your new physician tells you that you never really needed the initial surgery but you now need another one. In that case, your previous doctor recommended an unnecessary operation and then made a mess of it. Under this fact pattern, your previous doctor may have committed medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a doctor strays from the accepted “standard of care” when treating a patient. Standard of care refers to what a reasonably sensible doctor/medical provider would or would not have done under similar circumstances. The standard of care owed to a patient is the level of skill, expertise, and care practiced by physicians in the same or similar community, and under similar circumstances. Your medical malpractice attorney needs to show that your doctor breached the standard of care and that breach caused you damages. Medical malpractice cases are very tough to win and most of them do not warrant a lawsuit unless the damages are high enough. In essence, medical malpractice happens when a medical provider acts irresponsibly when treating an illness or injury and the patient was injured as a result.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice may occur in various fields of treatment. The following are some more common cases of medical malpractice lawsuits:
- Wrong site surgery (believe it or not this happens)
- Failure to correctly explain a medical treatment or procedure
- Anesthesia errors
- Improper surgery
- Failure to diagnose
- Delay in treatment
- Improper treatment
- Prescription errors or dosage related errors
Four Steps to Filing a Successful Medical Malpractice Case
Contact the Medical Provider and Gather All Medical Records
To get your medical malpractice case started, contact the medical provider or doctor who attended to you before you actually bring the claim. Gather all your medical records related to the supposed malpractice. Your aim is to understand what might have gone awry and allow the medical provider to determine whether they can resolve the problem.
Know How Much Time You’ve Got to File a Case
All civil cases, including medical malpractice claims, have time limits called a statute of limitations. Different states have different time limits for filing medical malpractice claims. For example, in both Kansas and Missouri, you’ve got two years after injury to bring a medical malpractice case. The statute of limitations starts when the date of the injury took place. There are certain exceptions to this rule as well (for instance, if the malpractice involved a child).
Obtain an Affidavit
In Missouri, it is a requirement to have an affidavit from a health care provider that states they have reviewed the medical records and determined that it is their opinion that the health care provider in question failed to use the standard of care as a reasonably prudent and careful provider would have under similar circumstances and that such failure directly caused or directly contributed to cause the damages claimed in the petition. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 538.225. We can file this on your behalf and verify that you consult a medical expert. This has to be filed with the court within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Consider Settling Out of Court
A medical malpractice claim can be time-consuming and costly. If you get the chance to settle it outside the courtroom, you need to talk to your lawyer about the pluses and minus of settling your claim. If you think you have got a concrete case, consider taking the case to trial rather than settling. However, you just never know what a jury is going to do – even in the best cases.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Case? Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Finding a reliable medical malpractice attorney can be all the difference between getting just compensation and walking away with nothing. An experienced Missouri medical malpractice attorney will discuss the pros and cons of your claim and guide you on what to do moving forward. Please contact Foster Wallace today to set up a free, initial consultation.