We seek the help of medical professionals to stay healthy and to get well again after an injury or illness. Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen and the providers we trust actually cause additional injury or even death. In fact, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. When doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospitals and other parties engage in this type of professional negligence, they may be liable for medical malpractice and thus, responsible for financially compensating the victim for damages.
Medical malpractice is an act or omission by a health care provider that deviates from accepted standards of practice, resulting in serious injury or death. Common medical malpractice causes include Sentinel Events, defined by The Joint Commission as, “not primarily related to the natural course of the patient’s illness or underlying condition,” as well as 29 Serious Reportable Events (Never Events), defined by the National Quality Forum. Insurance companies and programs, such as Medicare, use these events as guidelines for identifying medical errors. If one occurs, the event should be reported to the appropriate agency right away, and patients and their families you should seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to:
- Stage III and IV Bed Sores
- Patient Falls
- Air Embolism
- Misdiagnosis of an Illness or Condition
- Insufficient Warning of Risks
- Improper Medical Procedure or Treatment
- Surgical Error
- Birth Defect Due to Malpractice
- Error in Prescribing or Administering Medication
- Failure to Monitor Patient
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum is uniquely positioned to successfully investigate and try complex medical malpractice cases. Our team of St. Louis medical malpractice attorneys is joined by Kelly Casey, a registered nurse with more than 15 years of clinical and management experience. As a member of our team, Kelly attends meetings with clients, evaluates cases, stays current on medical care standards and acts as a liaison with medical experts. Her involvement has helped us successfully recover millions of dollars for clients.
Notable Medical Malpractice Cases
In a medical malpractice lawsuit for an eight-year old girl who sustained a brain injury due to negligent medical treatment. Her hospital and treating doctors, including her pediatrician and a geneticist, were liable for a misdiagnosis of congenital hypothyroidism as a result of the hospital losing her Newborn Screen Test, which tests for congenital hypothyroidism.
For the family of 45-year-old man who died as a result of failure to diagnose bacterial meningitis.
For the death of a man who suffered an air embolism after undergoing a cardiac catheterization.
Can I file a claim?
A patient who is injured while under the care of a doctor can file a claim, and in situations where the injured person is a minor, a parent or guardian may bring the case. If the injury resulted in the death of the patient, then a wrongful death suit may be initiated by the surviving family.
How much money can be recovered from a medical malpractice case?
Injuries are typically serious and can have lasting effects, but an exact dollar amount cannot be placed on a case until it has been extensively reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Generally, the amount starts with economic losses that can be calculated to the dollar, such as medical bills and lost wages. Then general damages that don’t have an exact monetary value are added in, such a loss of consortium, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of function, and more. For additional information about what your medical malpractice case is worth, consult with a medical negligence attorney.
What goes in to a medical malpractice case and how long will it take?
There are many factors that can cause medical malpractice cases to be lengthy, such as complex medical issues, multiple liable parties, numerous witnesses, and large sums of money at stake. At Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum, we always anticipate that our cases will go to trial and therefore handle all aspects of the case as such. However, our goal is to recover the highest compensation for clients in the quickest amount of time, which can often be accomplished through mediation or settlement.
The initial investigation of a medical malpractice case and evaluation for merit can take up to six months. Once a case is filed with the courts, the litigation process begins and can take at least two years. Litigation includes gathering information; evaluating evidence; deposing all parties, witnesses and experts; attending mediation and settlement meetings; and trying the case in court. Throughout the process, clients are expected to attend meetings with their attorney, and be present for the entire length of the trial.
How is it determined if someone is a victim of medical negligence?
Every case has its own set of facts and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if the medical provider deviated from the standard of care, if there is damage, and if negligence caused or directly contributed to the damage or injury. This is often done by examining medical records, collecting evidence and consulting medical experts. If the case goes to trial, a jury will ultimately determine if there was medical negligence based on the defined standards of professional agencies.
Is there a time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Missouri medical malpractice claims have a statute of limitations that is two years from the date of the negligent act. However, this filing deadline varies from state-to-state, and in some cases the date may not be obvious, so it is important to contact a medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate your situation as soon as you believe you have a claim.
If I recover damages, do I have to pay back my health insurance company?
The health insurance company may have a right to come back and ask for repayment of the amount they paid if it is related to the damage suffered by the negligent act. When calculating damages for a medical malpractice case, the amount owed to the insurance company is added in as part of the expenses that a law firm seeks to recover. If Medicaid or Medicare is the insurer, the law mandates that they be notified of any malpractice claim where they covered medical expenses.
Can I bring a claim against my doctor if I didn’t follow instructions?
It is important for patients to follow the guidelines set forth by their health care providers because not doing so may contribute to the cause of additional injuries or damage. However, all cases are different, and even if the patient did not follow specific instructions, a medical provider may still be liable due to negligence. It is recommended to contact a medical malpractice attorney to determine if there is a case.
What documents should I hold on to?
There are many pieces that go together to pursue a successful medical malpractice claim. Patients should keep track of everything related to the case, for example documents, photos, lists of prescriptions, insurance records and bills, as well as keep track of timelines and conversations with medical and insurance personnel.
How much does a medical malpractice lawsuit cost?
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum is a St. Louis medical malpractice law firm that practices throughout Missouri and Illinois. We work with clients on a contingency fee basis, which means our clients don’t pay us anything unless we recover damages. The client is then responsible for paying back expenses incurred during the litigation process, as well as a percentage of the settlement or judgment agreed upon prior to starting work on the case. If you believe you or a family member is a victim of medical malpractice, contact our offices today to see if you have a claim.