Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider behaves negligently and causes a preventable injury or illness to a patient. Medical negligence consists of failing to meet the standard of care expected of them, which can be committed by any healthcare provider, such as doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, etc.
Grounds for a medical malpractice case in Missouri will hinge on what the expected “standard of care” was in your case and prove the medical provider deviated from it. By law, patients have the right to expect the same level of care collectively recognized by health professionals in the same field. However, an honest mistake, being unhappy with the care you were given, or suffering from inherent risks associated with treatment, does not necessarily mean medical malpractice occurred. Testimony from a medical expert will typically be needed to establish the standard of care in your specific case and how it was violated.
There are generally four elements that must be proven to pursue a case of medical malpractice in Missouri successfully:
Duty of Care
A doctor/patient relationship must have existed. This means records show you saw the defendant (at-fault healthcare provider) in a professional capacity to receive medical treatment.
Breach of Care
The defendant breached their duty by violating the expected medical standard of care. In other words, another reasonable healthcare professional in the same field would have done something different if in a similar situation.
The medical provider’s breach of care (negligence) directly led to your injury or illness, and it would not have occurred otherwise.
Your resulting injury or illness caused damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.)
There are many types of cases that can fall under medical malpractice, such as:
Misdiagnosis / Failure to Diagnose
When a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition or the wrong one, that patient may not receive the treatment they need or may receive unnecessary treatments, leading to injury or wrongful death.
A patient can be severely injured or killed if they receive the wrong medication, one they are allergic to, or interacts dangerously with another medication they are taking. In these cases, the prescribing physician or a pharmacist is often liable.
A surgeon and other medical providers (e.g., nurses) can be held responsible if the wrong patient is operated on, for operating on the wrong part of a patient’s body, or for leaving a surgical instrument behind.
The anesthesiologist may administer too much or too little anesthesia, the wrong type of anesthesia, delay anesthesia delivery, fail to prevent or recognize an adverse drug reaction, fail to monitor a patient under anesthesia properly, etc.
Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
Under Missouri law, patients must be given the information they need to make an educated and informed decision about their medical treatment. If a healthcare provider takes away a patient’s right to make an informed decision or fails to disclose the risks of treatment, they can be liable for any resulting harm.
Any mistake by medical staff or defective equipment can cause devastating injuries to an infant or mother during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or the postpartum period.
Successful medical malpractice cases against healthcare providers in Missouri can compensate victims for their medical expenses related to their injuries or illnesses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.