Physicians and other healthcare providers have a responsibility to provide ethical and responsible care to the patients they treat. Medical negligence or medical malpractice laws exists to allow patients to hold them accountable for the services they provide.
There are many reasons why a patient might need to file a medical malpractice claim, including failure to diagnose, performing procedures without consent, misreading x-rays, medication errors, failure to warn patients of the risks or side effects of treatment, and other actions or inaction. A doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider could be held liable if they fail to maintain a level of caution and exercise the proper standard of care for a patient.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, data released by the National Practitioner Data Bank showed that the 28.8 medical malpractice suits per 100,000 Missouri residents were the 12th highest rate in the nation. A total of $66.9 million was paid out in medical malpractice cases in Missouri during a single recent year.
Becker’s also reported that Kansas ranked 29th in medical malpractice suits per 100,000 residents with 19.7 per 100,000 Kansas residents. A total of $23.3 million was paid out in medical malpractice cases in Kansas.
Did you suffer catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed by the negligence of a physician or other medical professional in the Kansas City area? We have five office locations throughout communities in Kansas and Missouri in the greater Kansas City region. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to your home or your hospital room to meet with you. You should know that you have rights and we will help you understand them.
Edelman & Thompson understands the fear that many people face when they have been the victims of medical malpractice, but our firm is not afraid to take on doctors, clinics, and major health care providers for the harm they’ve caused you. You can discuss your legal options with our lawyers as soon as you call us or contact us online to take advantage of a free and confidential consultation.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In Missouri or Kansas, the first required element of any medical malpractice claim will be evidence of a doctor/patient relationship. Most people generally have several years of medical records with their primary physician, so this is usually not a difficult requirement to satisfy. Certain cases can involve medical treatment by specialists or other professionals that were unique, first-time visits. These appointments will also require a consent form or other paperwork that creates a doctor/patient relationship.
As far as the actual medical malpractice claim itself, your action will need to prove four things:
- Duty of Care — The medical professional or entity had an obligation to the patient to maintain a standard of care.
- Breach of Duty — The medical professional or entity breached that duty of care by departing from the standard of care.
- Causation — That breach of duty caused the patient to suffer injuries.
- Damages — The patient’s injuries resulted in damages.
Proving medical malpractice can often be tricky for most people, which is why you need to work with an attorney who has experience investigating these types of claims and uncovering evidence of medical negligence.
Process for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Kansas Statute § 65-4901 provides that when a petition is filed in a district court for medical malpractice, a party to the action can request a medical malpractice screening panel. A judge also has the power to convene a medical malpractice screening panel on their motion.
The membership of the screening panel is to be mad up of a healthcare provider designated by the defendant, a healthcare provider designated by the plaintiff, a healthcare provider selected jointly by the plaintiff and the defendant, and an attorney selected by the judge of the district court. Within 180 days, the panel will make written recommendations on the issue of whether the healthcare provider departed from the standard of care. The panel’s recommendations can be used at trial, and the members may be asked to testify.
When a medical malpractice action is filed in Missouri, the victim needs to file an affidavit of merit within 90 days. An affidavit of merit must contain the opinion of a legally qualified healthcare provider who supports the claim of a provider departing from the standard of care.
A legally qualified healthcare provider is defined under Missouri Revised Statute § 538.225 as “a health care provider licensed in this state or any other state in the same profession as the defendant and either actively practicing or within five years of retirement from actively practicing substantially the same specialty as the defendant.” The legally qualified healthcare provider will usually need to testify during any trial.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Some of the most common kinds of medical malpractice claims include:
- Anesthesia Errors — Delayed delivery of anesthesia, error in the anesthesia dosage, and failure to monitor anesthesia are common anesthesia errors.
- Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis —A failure to diagnose occurs when a disease or condition is not correctly diagnosed at the time it should have been, while a misdiagnosis is an incorrect diagnosis – either a missed diagnosis or a “false positive.” Cancer, stroke, and heart attacks are some of the conditions most commonly involved in these cases.
- Medication Errors — A physician may prescribe a medication that proves unsafe for a patient. Similarly, a pharmacy could provide the wrong medication or dosage to a patient.
- Surgical Errors — Surgeries that are performed on the wrong location of the body, surgeries that leave foreign objects inside patients, or operations that result in possible nerve injuries are some typical kinds of surgical errors.
- Birth Injuries — A birth injury is a condition caused by medical negligence, which is much different from a birth defect, which is a genetic condition. Brachial plexus injuries, forceps injuries, and cerebral palsy are some of the most common birth injuries.
Not all types of medical malpractice fall neatly into these categories. When you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact an attorney to help determine the best way to handle your claim.
How Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help You
Edelman & Thompson has recovered more than $500 million settlements and verdicts for our clients. We have been rated No. 1 in Kansas City jury verdicts by the Kansas City Jury Verdict Service (Most Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury Jury Verdicts, 2012-2017).
Ron Edelman was named a Top 100 civil litigator by the National Trial Lawyers Association and is licensed in both state and federal courts in Missouri and Kansas. He is a member of the Kansas Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Trial Lawyers Association, the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Workplace Injury Litigation Group.
James Thompson is a member of the Kansas City Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the United States Supreme Court Bar, the Federal Court Bars in Kansas and Missouri, the American Association for Justice, and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, for which membership is limited to attorneys who have secured million or multi-million-dollar verdicts or settlements.
You won’t have to worry about how you can afford an attorney because Edelman & Thompson represents clients on a contingency fee basis. This simply means that we will charge you only if and when you receive a monetary award.
We charge only 33 ⅓ percent in most cases – far less than the 40 to 50 percent charged by many other law firms. Our fee is deducted from your final award, meaning you never have to pay a legal fee directly out of your pocket.
Our firm is prepared to start an independent investigation to collect all the evidence relating to your case, determine how the malpractice occurred, and identify every potentially liable party. Edelman & Thompson can negotiate to seek a settlement that covers the expenses and losses you have incurred and will incur because of your injuries. Our firm will also be prepared to file a lawsuit to seek everything you deserve if the defendant is unwilling to agree to a satisfactory amount.
Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case
A victim who can prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence can be awarded compensatory damages, which are usually some combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are for a victim’s financial losses, such as lost wages and medical bills. Noneconomic damages are more subjective and include awards for disfigurement, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages can also be awarded in Kansas and Missouri, but they are rare in medical malpractice cases. Kansas, for example, requires a person to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant acted with willful conduct, wanton conduct, fraud, or malice.
Missouri has a limit of $350,000 on damages in medical malpractice wrongful death cases, and Kansas Statute § 60-1903a sets the same limit for nonmonetary losses in wrongful death actions at $250,000.
Statute of Limitations on Med Mal Claims
In either Kansas or Missouri, a person generally has two years to file an injury claim. With medical malpractice cases, one significant exception is the discovery rule.
With the discovery rule, a person may be able to have their limitations period tolled (delayed) because they were not immediately aware that the malpractice occurred. For example, an item that was left within a person during surgery may not be discovered until several years later.
Kansas Statute § 60-513 provides that a person must file a medical malpractice action within two years of the date the malpractice occurred or the date the person learned of the malpractice, but no action can begin more than four years after the date of the cause of action.
Under Missouri Statute § 516.05, there are three exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations:
- When a foreign object is left in the body after surgery — The person has two years from the date the negligence is discovered or should have been discovered.
- Failure to inform a patient of medical test results — The action must be brought within two years of the date the person discovered or should have discovered a failure to inform.
- Cases involving a minor — A medical malpractice victim who is a minor has until they turn 20 years of age to file a claim.
Missouri Statute § 516.05 also institutes a 10-year statute of repose, which means no action can be filed for an act that occurred more than 10 years ago. Kansas also has a 10-year statute of repose on personal injury claims.
Contact a Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you believe that you have been the victim of negligent treatment or that your treatment was wrongly prescribed, turn to a legal team that has extensive experience with medical malpractice claims. At Edelman & Thompson, our team of trial attorneys has a successful track record of helping victims of medical negligence seek the full and fair compensation they deserve.
We know that attention to detail and timeliness is crucial in these cases. The rules and timelines regarding the statute of limitations, review board presentations, and other requirements must be strictly followed, otherwise your case could be dismissed.
Hiring an attorney who is well versed in medical malpractice laws will give you the peace of mind you need as you recover from your injuries or illness. You deserve to focus on your health and the wellbeing of your family, while we focus on pursuing the answers and compensation that you deserve.
The law firm of Edelman & Thompson has been helping people throughout the Greater Kansas City area since 1994. Call us or contact us online now to set up a free and completely confidential consultation about your legal rights and options.
*Kansas City Jury Verdict Service; Most Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury Jury Verdicts (2012-2017)