Doctors are humans and make mistakes. Are medical errors always malpractice?Determining the difference between medical errors and medical malpractice can quickly become confusing. In many cases, seemingly minor medical errors and actions that involve malpractice overlap, so you need the skills of an experienced Kansas City medical malpractice attorney to help you process essential evidence and build a case. 

Is Your Injury an Honest Medical Error or Medical Malpractice?

A medical error is defined in multiple ways: 

  • Failure to complete a plan
  • An unintentional action
  • Deviations from health care standards
  • Acts of omission

However, medical errors are considered negligent and defined as malpractice when a patient suffers significant harm, which may include psychological and physical damage. Some of the most common medical errors include:

  • Adverse drug events
  • Fall injuries
  • Surgical errors or infections
  • Blood clots
  • Patient misdiagnosis 

But are these errors actual malpractice? That’s what needs to be proven, because in some cases, they fall in the middle, and are traced back to the medical professional, an unforeseen error, or the patient. For example, a patient may fall due to their own reckless actions. At the same time, a patient could fall when a medical professional fails to provide proper assistance. This is why understanding different terms for these types of incidents is important. 

Adverse event

An adverse event can be a preventable, unintended injury, or prolonged hospitalization caused by not following usual practices.

Latent error

Latent errors are often undetected errors caused by problematic equipment or organization that can lead to harm.

Active error

Active errors happen when a medical professional operates incorrectly or makes a mistake while performing a medical procedure.

Near miss

A near miss is an action that could have caused harm to a patient but didn’t. These may occur more often during complicated or quick procedures during emergency care.

Never event

Never events are medical errors that should never happen due to their severity. An example would be a wrong-site surgery.

Negligence or negligent adverse events

Negligent adverse events occur when a preventable outcome results in patient harm due to improper medical actions. In medical settings, physical harm can be: 

  • An exacerbation of symptoms
  • Failure to treat or resolve symptoms
  • Bodily injuries 

The types of harm suffered vary based on the cause, with surgical errors often resulting in the most severe bodily harm.

When You Can Sue for Malpractice

Knowing when you can sue for medical malpractice is about understanding what negligence means and what counts as malpractice. Negligence describes acts of commission or omission that result in harm to someone else. This can apply in or outside the medical profession.

Carelessness, recklessness, and deviations from the standards of care all have the same potential to cause harm to another person. When this happens to you as a patient, and the person responsible is a medical provider, you could be dealing with malpractice. Every medical professional must follow certain standards of care to protect patients from harm.

Medical malpractice happens when a relationship is established with a patient, and these standards of care are broken. That is when a medical professional like a doctor, nurse, or other staff member could be held liable for damages. To obtain compensation for damages you suffered from malpractice, you must prove certain elements of malpractice such as: 

  • Duty to you as the patient
  • Negligence
  • Damages
  • Causation

The duty to you as a patient is proven by demonstrating that a patient-doctor relationship existed when the damages occurred. This applies to a patient relationship with a doctor, nurse, or another medical team member. If you signed a consent form, then you entered a doctor-patient relationship.

Negligence is a careless action or failure to act that results in harm to others. This might be one of the hardest parts to prove in a malpractice lawsuit. Some medical professionals deny what happened; others may attempt to conceal evidence. 

Types of Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Economic and non-economic damages frequently include medical bills and lost wages, as well as:

  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Trauma
  • Mental disorders

Lastly, causation is the element that ties the negligent action to the outcome you suffered. In other words, you’re expected to prove how the negligent act caused any damages you claim to have suffered. Partnering with an experienced lawyer can help combine all of these elements to increase the chances of a successful lawsuit. Once hired, your legal team can take over the often tedious processes of collecting evidence, getting witness testimonies, building a lawsuit, and defending the lawsuit in court.

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