Medical Error vs Medical Malpractice

When you go to a hospital or the doctor’s office, you expect expert advice from a professional whose years of study and practice should yield positive results for whatever ails you. Sometimes the medication or other course of action they prescribe in this endeavor not only fails to provide a cure, but makes your symptoms worse.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a serious offense for the doctor and the hospital for whom they work. For a malpractice case to be relevant, a few things must be true:

An experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about medical malpractice is necessary, whether or not your claim goes to court. Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet has handled numerous cases such as these; if your doctor prescribed an incorrect course of treatment, or if they made a mistake during surgery that should have been avoided, you deserve fair compensation.

Malpractice involves the negligence described above, but it could also entail their intentionally hiding a potential side effect. This could involve the hospital or the pharmaceutical company that provided the medicine too. It’s well documented that a doctor will sometimes feel pressure to prescribe a certain drug even though it might not be right for that patient. This is where a lawyer can do the investigative work to figure out exactly why you were prescribed the drug and if there was any manipulation going on behind the scenes.

What Is Medical Error?

Sometimes an allergic reaction to a medication is unavoidable, or an unforeseen complication to anesthesia happens during surgery. This is what’s known as a medical error; accidents happen in all areas of life, including the medicinal field. Medication error affects 1.5 million people every year, and is the third-highest cause of deaths in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer.

Just because a treatment did not work, this does not mean that there are grounds for a malpractice claim. Treatments fail a lot, and just means that something else needs to be tried. Medical error falls under a fairly broad definition, so a claim for damages could still be filed, but in most cases, medical error encompasses unforeseen or unavoidable accidents in treatment or operation.

What’s the Difference Between Medical Error and Medical Malpractice?

The general question here is: “Would a reasonable person have made the same prescription or diagnosis?” If the answer is yes, then it is likely just medical error and not malpractice. Malpractice happens when a doctor should have known of an adverse side effect, prescribed a medicine that another doctor would not have, or failed to properly diagnose an illness. Negligence or intentional misconduct applies to malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, you generally have two years to file a medical malpractice claim. The clock starts, so to speak, upon the initial injury. However, there are a few instances in which you may be able to be granted an extension. This is known as the “discovery rule.” For example, if it were to be discovered that a surgeon left a foreign object inside your body, then the two year statute would start on the date that this was discovered, not the date of the actual surgery.

If you were prescribed an incorrect medicine, which caused harmful side effects, you would have from the date of discovery in this case, rather than from the date which the medicine was initially prescribed. Also, if you were younger than 18 when the malpractice occurred, then you would have two years from the date you turn 18 to file a claim.

If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you’ll need a competent attorney who can negotiate with insurance, gather all necessary information and shows compassion for your case. Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger offers free consultation, so you can explain every detail without charge. Call today to set up an appointment.