Medical Malpractice

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims in Joplin

Medical malpractice is a specialized type of personal injury claim that is usually based on some type of negligence at the hands of a health care professional. These types of claims can include surgical errors as well as general medical treatment issues. As any personal injury lawyer in Joplin can tell you, medical malpractice claims can be difficult to prove because most procedures have at least some risk, and those risks may be expected. In fact, your physician should explain all of the risks to you.  However, when an issue is solely the result of a health care provider not doing what is expected of them, there may be a legal claim. Here are some of the common types of medical malpractice claims. General medical malpractice law in Joplin Every medical malpractice claim requires proof of certain facts in order for the victim to be entitled to compensation. Because some complications are expected with most procedures, you must be able to show that the injury you suffered was the result of malpractice. You must first prove that the health care provider owed you a duty to follow a certain “standard of care.” The standard that applies to your claim depends on different factors and can be established through the testimony of another comparable health care professional. You must then show that the health care provider breached that duty by falling below the applicable “standard of care.” Additionally, you must prove that the provider’s breach actually caused your injury. The final necessary element of your claim is that you were actually injured, which is referred to as damages. Malpractice claims based on anesthesia errors When you undergo a surgical procedure that requires you to be either numbed or put to sleep, you will be administered anesthesia. In cases where anesthesia is administered improperly, there can be serious consequences. For example, if you receive too little anesthesia you may either feel pain during the surgical procedure or wake up too soon. More serious cases involving anesthesia could result in paralysis. Excessive anesthesia could lead to permanent medical issues and even death. Malpractice claims based on diagnostic errors Diagnostic errors typically fall into two categories: failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis.  Both of these types of claims can result in severe injury. When a medical condition goes undiagnosed, especially for an extended period of time, the consequences can be severe, including death, due to the lack of necessary treatment.  On the other hand, misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor affirmatively gives you the incorrect diagnosis. As result, the existing medical condition goes untreated. To complicate matters, you could also suffer additional injury caused by the unnecessary medical treatments or procedures for a condition you don’t have. How gross negligence is different from general negligence A claim for gross negligence may be more appropriate in cases where the breach of the standard of care is so obvious that even a layperson would recognize it as being improper. In those cases, expert testimony as to the standard of care is often not necessary. For example, if a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or performs the wrong procedure when there was no confusion as to the diagnosis, the error is so obvious that proving the standard of care is not necessary. Although these types of claims are rare, if you have been a victim, contact a personal injury lawyer in Joplin to discuss your situation. Lack of informed consent When a patient undergoes surgical or medical procedures, the health care provider is usually required to obtain your “informed consent,” except in certain emergency situations. This requires an understanding of what the procedure or treatment involves. Failure to obtain a statement from the patient that they agree to allow the provider to perform a procedure or treatment can be a very serious grounds for a lawsuit. In many cases, this type of claim can be brought as an intentional tort. It is important to remember that, even if the procedure or treatment is successful, you might be entitled to recover. Objects left inside after surgery Unfortunately, this is a rather common type of malpractice claim. It is not that rare for a surgeon or their surgical staff to lose track of tools and materials during a lengthy surgery. As a result, they may unintentionally leave items like surgical sponges, gauze, or even metal tools inside of a patient when closing them up after surgery. These mistakes are often not discovered until sometime later. As a personal injury lawyer in Joplin knows, these types of medical malpractice cases are usually allowed more time to file. This is referred to as Missouri’s “discovery rules.” If you have questions regarding any type of personal injury claims in Missouri or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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Medical Malpractice

What Happens When a Loved One was Misdiagnosed as Brain Dead?

It is a very unfortunate situation when a loved one has been seriously injured and the family is informed by the doctors that they have done all they can, but the person is “brain dead.”  The family is left with the impossible decision about whether to take them off life support.  But, what happens when the doctors are wrong?  A misdiagnosis of brain death happens more often than you may think.  When it does, there may be a basis for a personal injury claim, so talk to your medical malpractice attorney to see what steps can be taken. Medical malpractice cases are far too common Unfortunately, medical lawyers are keeping busy with an increase in malpractice cases.  One of the reasons medical malpractice have become so common is the fact that health care providers have become more and more reliant on medical technology and electronics. Hospitals are set on becoming paperless by computerizing their systems, including patient records, utilizing automatic orders and electronic patient monitoring devices.  Inadequate training and malfunctioning devices can result in malpractice and injury. Basic elements of a medical malpractice claim There are four elements required to be proven in every medical malpractice claim, regardless of the type of injury that was sustained. First, a doctor-patient relationship must be demonstrated.  Next, it must be shown that the doctor in question was negligent and that negligence caused your injuries.  Finally, you must show that the injuries you suffered resulted in the damages for which you seek compensation. What does the diagnosis “brain dead” actually mean? The medical term “brain death” is commonly defined as “death based on the absence of all neurologic function.”  Brain death does not mean that the person no longer has any biological function, however.  In most cases, a patient is not classified as brain dead until examined by a neurologist.  However, not every hospital or medical facility requires a diagnosis by a neurologist in order to rule someone brain dead. In reality, only about 33% of all hospitals require a neurologist to make the diagnosis. Regrettably, hospital policies regarding the diagnosis of brain death are highly inconsistent, which opens the door for widespread errors. The doctor’s negligence caused the injury Another important element of a medical malpractice case is establishing that whatever the doctor did or didn’t do, actually caused the reported injuries or damage.  The reason this can be an important issue is that most patients are sick or injured when they first come to see the doctor, so it must be proven that the doctor’s actions were the real cause of your injuries. In other words, if a patient dies, it must be shown that illness or injury that the patient was already suffering was not the real reason for the death.  An expert witness is typically required to establish this element as well. Examples of incorrect brain death diagnoses A young girl at the Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa was pronounced brain dead.  Her parents were told they needed to make arrangements to take her off life support. They were preparing to donate her organs, but before they could begin harvesting, she awoke from her coma. Similarly, a woman in New York was pronounced “brain dead” by doctors, and later awoke unexpectedly as they were preparing to remove her organs for donation.  A man in Texas was pronounced brain dead by doctors at the Tomball Regional Medical Center. When they attempted to disconnect him from life support, the man’s father threatened to shoot himself if they did. The young man woke up later that evening and subsequently made a strong recovery. Negligent conduct by the doctor One common misconception many patients have is that simple disagreement with your treatment or its results is grounds for a medical malpractice claim. That is not the case. No matter how unhappy you may be with your treatment or your doctor’s bedside manner, if he or she was not negligent in providing your medical treatment, you do not have a claim.  Specifically, you must have evidence that the doctor failed to use the “reasonable skill and care” a competent doctor under the same circumstances would have used.  This is the most important element of a medical malpractice case and often the most difficult to prove.  Nearly every state requires that the patient offer an expert to establish both what the appropriate medical standard of care is and how the doctor deviated from that standard. If you have questions regarding medical malpractice claims, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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