Kevin Etzkorn Law

UNCOVERING MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS AS A PATIENT IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Introduction

Medical malpractice is a serious concern for patients in St. Louis, Missouri, where seeking medical care is a fundamental aspect of maintaining health and well-being. While healthcare providers are expected to adhere to high standards of care, instances of medical malpractice can and do occur, leading to significant harm for patients. Recognizing the signs of medical malpractice and understanding how to protect your rights as a patient is crucial for ensuring accountability and seeking justice. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what constitutes medical malpractice, how to recognize it, and the steps you can take to safeguard yourself as a patient in St. Louis.

Understanding Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide treatment that meets the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. This can encompass a wide range of errors, including surgical mistakes, misdiagnoses, medication errors, birth injuries, and much more. It’s important to note that not all negative outcomes in healthcare constitute malpractice, but when there’s a deviation from the standard of care leading to harm, legal action may be warranted.

Recognizing Medical Malpractice

Identifying medical malpractice can be challenging, especially for patients without a medical background. However, there are common signs that may indicate malpractice:

  1. Unusual Complications: If you experience unexpected complications following a medical procedure or treatment, it’s essential to question whether proper protocols were followed.
  2. Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: Errors in diagnosis can have serious consequences, delaying necessary treatment or leading to unnecessary procedures. If you feel your condition was misdiagnosed or diagnosed late, it’s worth investigating further.
  3. Lack of Informed Consent: Patients have the right to make informed decisions about their healthcare. If you were not adequately informed about the risks and alternatives of a treatment or procedure, it could be a sign of malpractice.
  4. Medication Errors: Administering the wrong medication or dosage can have severe consequences. If you experience unexpected reactions to medication, it’s important to explore whether an error occurred.

 

What to Do in the Event of Possible Malpractice 

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect your rights. Here are steps you can take:

  1. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of your medical history, including diagnoses, treatments, prescriptions, and any communication with healthcare providers.
  2. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: Seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases. They can evaluate your situation, explain your rights, and guide you through the legal process.
  3. File a Complaint: Consider filing a complaint with the appropriate regulatory bodies, such as the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts or other relevant agencies. This can help bring attention to the issue and prevent similar incidents in the future.
  4. Act Promptly: Statutes of limitations apply to medical malpractice cases, so it’s important not to delay seeking legal assistance. The sooner you take action, the better chance you have of protecting your rights and obtaining compensation for your injuries.

 

What is the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Cases?

Patients have a limited amount of time in which to file a complaint in Court against a healthcare provider. The length of time will vary from one jurisdication to another. In MIssouri and Illinois, the general rules is that a patient has two years after the alleged malpractice in which to file a medical malpractice claims. However, there are nuances to those rules, including a continuing care exception, a foreign body exception, and with regard to cases involving malpractice in the care of a child under the age of 18. Additionally, Missouri wrongful death cases that result from medical malpractice have a 3-year statute of limitations, one year longer than a medical malpractice case that does not involve death. 

What are Damage Caps?

The Missouri legislature aggressively campaigned for tort reform over the course of several decades. At one point, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a cap on non-economic damages was unconstitutional. As an end-run around this Court ruling, the legislature re-wrote the law on medical malpractice cases. There is now a cap on non-economic damages in Missouri medical malpractice cases. That amount increases every year by statute, 538.210.8. Specifics are available on the department of insurance website, insurance.mo.gov/industry/medmal.php. 

For 2023, the cap on non-economic damages for “catastrophic injuries” is $801,061. R.S.Mo. Section 538.205 defines “catastrophic injuries” to include an injury resulting in quadrplegia, paraplegia, the loss of two or more limbs, significant and permanent cognitive impairment, irreversible failure of a major organ, or significant loss of vision. All other injuries are considered “non-catastrophic.” And for 2023, the cap on non-economic damages for “non-catastrophic” injuries is $457,749.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue that can have profound effects on patients and their families. By knowing how to recognize and respond to medical malpractice, you can protect your rights and seek justice. If you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice in St. Louis, Missouri, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance. Our experienced personal injury team is here to help you navigate the complexities of medical malpractice law and fight for the compensation you deserve. Together, we can work towards holding negligent healthcare providers accountable and ensuring that you receive the justice and closure you need to move forward.                    

 

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