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Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical malpractice is one of the most harrowing forms of negligence. It comes from those we trust with our lives – our doctors, nurses, and physicians. We never imagine those in charge of our health and well-being would engage in negligent or reckless practices that could threaten or even take our lives. Yet patients become victims of medical malpractice every year. These types of legal claims are often complex and difficult to prove. You need help from the Kansas City injury lawyers at Wendt Law Firm P.C. when taking on these cases.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

“Medical malpractice” occurs when a medical professional injures or kills a patient due to the failure to provide proper healthcare treatment. An honest mistake or foreseeable health complication is not medical malpractice. The courts must find that another reasonable and prudent medical professional would have handled the situation differently, preventing the plaintiff’s harms. Examples of medical malpractice include medication errors, misdiagnoses, surgical mistakes, and childbirth injuries.

Plaintiffs may be able to sue individual physicians or entire hospitals for an incidence of medical malpractice. Most doctors are independent contractors, meaning they are not employees of the hospital. If this is the case, the injured patient may only bring a claim against the individual doctor. If the defendant is an employee of the hospital, on the other hand, the courts may hold the establishment liable for damages. The hospital may also be at fault if it is guilty of a form of negligence, such as unsanitary premises or improper employee training.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

Medical malpractice happens more often than most patients want to believe. Mistakes happen every day that put patients’ lives at risk, despite federal laws holding physicians, caretakers, and healthcare facilities to the highest standards in terms of patient care. A John’s Hopkins 2016 study showed that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, taking an estimated 251,454 lives each year (accounting for almost 10% of all deaths nationally). Millions of others suffer nonfatal injuries and other damages from medical malpractice.

For example, misdiagnosis affects an estimated 12 million patients in the U.S. each year. Studies show that about half of these misdiagnoses have the potential to cause serious patient harm. The National Practitioner Data Bank shows that the state of Kansas recorded 528 medical malpractice claims in 2016. Claimants received 131 payments for medical malpractice claims in Kansas that year. Missouri reported 942 medical malpractice claims in 2016, resulting in 161 payments to patients. Talk to our compassionate attorneys if you’re an injured patient in Kansas City.

Medical Malpractice Laws in Kansas City

Medical malpractice laws are complex and require an attorney for assistance. These laws govern the definition of medical malpractice, when a patient may file, deadlines for filing, and other important rules. Understanding the laws surrounding your particular case can help you avoid missing a statute of limitations or making another mistake that could bar you from recovery. The laws will differ according to the state in which the incident occurred:

  • You have two years from the date of injury or discovery of injury to file your claim. Exceptions exist to this deadline. For example, child victims have two years from the date of their 18th birthdays, or 10 years from the date of injury, to bring a claim (whichever is later). To file, the plaintiff needs an affidavit of merit, or a document that states an expert agreed that the defendant was negligent.
  • A plaintiff also has two years from the date of injury to file a medical malpractice claim in Kansas. However, there is s a four-year statute of repose. This means that, regardless of when the patient discovered his or her injuries, the patient has four years maximum from the time the medical error occurred. Kansas does not require an affidavit or merit to file, but the courts will hold a medical screening panel to review the claim if either party requests this action.

There is a non-economic damage cap on medical malpractice claims in Kansas but not in Missouri. This cap is between $250,000 and $350,000 depending on when the case accrued. Navigating the medical malpractice laws in Kansas City can be grueling, especially if you’re also recovering from significant injuries. Working with a medical malpractice attorney can make the process much easier on you and your family. To get started with a malpractice lawsuit, contact us for a free consultation.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Comparing your case to other similar legal scenarios can give you an idea of what qualifies as medical malpractice in Kansas City. It can also help you determine whether or not a physician or healthcare center in KC has wronged you or a loved one. Medical malpractice can take many forms, as anything that falls outside of the medical standards of care, resulting in patient harm, can qualify. However, certain types of malpractice tend to result in lawsuits more than others. The following are a few frequent examples:

  • Surgery or anesthesia error. Mistakes during surgical procedures, such as administering too much anesthesia or leaving a cotton swab in the body, can easily be fatal. A patient might have a malpractice claim if a surgeon or operating room staff member makes a mistake that a reasonable, prudent party would not have.
  • Medication mistake. As stated above, medication mistakes are some of the most common errors in the industry. Medication errors such as prescribing the incorrect medication, giving the wrong dosage, or mixing up patients can lead to adverse outcomes and even death.
  • Diagnosis errors. Misdiagnosing a condition, diagnosing a condition too late to help the patient, or failing to diagnose a condition at all can result in the patient not receiving the treatment he or she needs. Diagnosis errors can worsen a patient’s prognosis, exacerbate injuries and illnesses, and lead to wrongful death.
  • Birth injury. Malpractice during pregnancy, labor, and delivery can harm mother and baby. Common mistakes during childbirth include failing to monitor vital signs, delaying cesarean section, and failing to diagnose and treat emergencies, resulting in harm to the baby such as brain damage.
  • Negligent patient care. Some forms of medical malpractice aren’t as glaringly obvious as a surgical error, yet still cause significant patient harm. Patient neglect can lead to lack of sanitation, bedsores, infections, worsened outcomes, and preventable post-surgery complications.

A patient may have grounds for legal action any time a healthcare professional or facility falls short of professional duties of care, resulting in patient injury, death, or other damage. Call a qualified medical malpractice lawyer when in doubt about whether or not your situation qualifies as a Kansas City medical malpractice claim.

Medication Errors

Medical malpractice comes in many forms, and medication errors can be some of the most damaging cases. Although many prescription medications share similar names to other medications, it’s vital for doctors and pharmacists to accurately write and fill prescriptions. Doctors must carefully examine a patient’s medical history before prescribing a medication to check for allergies or potentially dangerous interactions with other prescriptions. Pharmacists must accurately fill prescriptions and provide customers with instructions for proper use.

When medication errors happen, victims can suffer extreme or even deadly consequences. A patient who takes a drug that interacts poorly with other prescriptions could face severe medical complications or die. Additionally, if a patient receives the wrong medication, the patient’s medical condition will continue to worsen since he or she isn’t receiving appropriate treatment. When these errors result in patient illness and injury, victims can file medical malpractice claims to recover compensation for their damages.

Types of Medication Errors

Any error resulting in patient harm from medication could constitute a medical malpractice claim. A few examples of medication errors that might justify a lawsuit include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication to a patient.
  • Confusing the name of a prescribed medication for another and filling a prescription incorrectly.
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage.
  • Filling a prescription with an incorrect pill count, dosage size, or other inaccurate variable.
  • Failing to warn a patient of potential side effects and dangerous interactions.
  • Failing to instruct the patient on proper dosage (taking the pill with food, etc.)
  • Mislabeling medications.
  • Prescribing a medication to which the patient is allergic.

In some cases, a medication error may not manifest noticeable symptoms for some time, while in others, the issue will be immediately apparent. Missouri allows for a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, beginning on the date of injury or the date the patient discovered the damage from the medication error. Such an error could cause the patient’s condition to worsen, necessitating further medical intervention or corrective procedures and further expense. Patients may also experience negative reactions to the wrong medication, causing pain and suffering as well.

Proving Medical Malpractice

Proving a medical malpractice claim requires gathering certain pieces of evidence, building a strong case, and hiring expert witnesses. You must prove the following four elements as an injured patient:

Duty.

  • You and the physician had a doctor-patient relationship at the time of the incident. You may not be able to hold a physician or facility responsible for wrongdoing if you weren’t a patient at the time. For example, if a doctor misdiagnoses you while off-duty at a cocktail party, he or she did not bear the same duties of care to you as a physician in a healthcare setting. You must have hired the physician and he/she must have agreed to the position.

Breach.

  • A breach of duty occurred. Physicians, hospitals, emergency rooms, and other healthcare workers and facilities owe patients the highest standards of care. Doctors must be “reasonably skillful and careful” in treating patients. You must show that the defendant breached a duty of care to you to have a malpractice claim. A “breach” can be anything that results in the defendant failing to fulfill his/her/its duties of care to you as a patient.

Causation.

  • The defendant’s breach of duty caused your injuries. You must have proof of proximate cause between the physician’s actions and the injuries or wrongful death for which you’re bringing the lawsuit. Proximate cause means that the breach of duty of care must have “more likely than not” caused the patient’s harms. Having a medical expert in the same field as the defendant testify can typically help with this burden of proof.

Damages.

  • The act of malpractice caused real, compensable damages. You must have suffered real damages as a result of the defendant’s actions to have a claim that qualifies. “Real damages” can refer to economic and noneconomic losses, including lost wages, hospital bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. You can also list damages such as funeral and burial costs if a loved one died from medical malpractice.

You have the foundation for a medical malpractice claim with these basic requirements. However, knowing if Kansas City medical malpractice laws cover your specific case takes looking at special requirements, discussed below.

Do Medical Malpractice Laws Cover My Case?

More than two years must not have passed from the date you discovered your injuries in both Kansas and Missouri. You have a maximum (“statute of repose”) of 10 years in certain cases in Missouri and a maximum of four years in Kansas. You also need to obtain an “Affidavit of Qualified Health Care Provider” verifying that you have a claim in Missouri. You may have to undergo a “medical screening panel” in Kansas. The purpose of these requirements is to weed out unfounded claims early in the legal process. A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you with all of these tasks and burdens of proof.

Filing a Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice in Missouri

Unlike some other states, Missouri does not uphold any caps or limits on damages a plaintiff may receive in a medical malpractice case. Missouri also has specific laws in the event of joint damages, or cases involving two defendants against one plaintiff. For example, a doctor prescribes the plaintiff the wrong medication for his or her condition, and the pharmacy fills the erroneous prescription incorrectly as well with a larger dosage than intended. In this situation, both the doctor and the pharmacist would absorb some measure of fault for their mistakes if they resulted in harm to the plaintiff.

If you intend to file a lawsuit for a medication error or any other kind of medical malpractice in Kansas City, you will need an affidavit of merit signed by a medical professional, as mentioned above. This affidavit will essentially act as sworn testimony from the practitioner that your claim has merit. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you build a strong case for your medication error claim. If you succeed in your claim, you can recover compensation for any medical expenses resulting from the error as well as compensation for your pain and suffering.

The Wendt Law Firm team has helped many clients in the Kansas City, MO area secure compensation for their damages in a variety of civil claims. We understand the damage a medical malpractice situation can cause and we want to help: our lawyers are not afraid to handle complex medical malpractice claims. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll review your claim and see how our firm can help.

Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Kansas City, MO

Medical malpractice lawsuits are notoriously complex and difficult to win in Kansas City. Working with a qualified lawyer to prove your medical malpractice claim, even though the law permits you to represent yourself, can help secure the financial compensation you deserve. Only a legal professional has the resources, knowledge, and prowess to prove malpractice and your damages. Hiring a lawyer comes with the following advantages, any of which could make the difference in your claim:

  • Thorough investigation of your claim
  • Easily gather evidence and documentation
  • Skillful navigation of state medical malpractice laws
  • Filing your claim on time and according to requirements
  • Assertive negotiation with major insurance companies
  • Using the law to your advantage during negotiations
  • Experience and success with similar claims in the past
  • The ability to take your claim to court if necessary
  • The power to maximize your compensation award
  • Peace of mind during the entire legal process

The qualified team at Wendt Law Firm P.C. can review your case for free and let you know if we believe you have the elements of a lawsuit. We can help you file your claim in the correct Kansas City courts right away, if so. We have everything you need to start and finish a medical malpractice lawsuit right here in KC; contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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