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Are Medical Errors Always Malpractice?

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Categorized as Legal Updates

Medical errors happen all the time and many go unnoticed. When medical errors are noticeable, they might be deemed medical malpractice. Knowing when you are dealing with a minor medical error or medical malpractice is important for knowing when you could be eligible for compensation. Talk to a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney if you have questions about any of this.

Medical Errors or Medical Malpractice?

Differentiating between medical errors and medical malpractice can quickly become confusing. In many cases, medical errors and actions that involve malpractice can overlap. Medical errors that do not result in harm to a patient are not generally considered medical malpractice. For medical malpractice to work, a patient needs damages to sue for.

Errors that do involve medical malpractice are the types of mistakes that cause psychological or physical harm to a patient. In medical settings, physical harm can look like an exacerbation of symptoms, failure to treat or resolve symptoms, and bodily injuries. The types of bodily harm suffered varies based on the cause with surgical errors often resulting in the most severe cases of bodily harm.

Some of the most common medical errors fall in the middle and include adverse drug events, fall injuries, surgical infections, blood clots, surgical errors, and misdiagnosing patients. These fall in the middle because in some cases they can be 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. These types of medical errors can be broken down into:

  • Adverse eventAre Medical Errors Always Malpractice?
  • Latent error
  • Active error
  • Medical error
  • Negligence or negligent adverse events
  • Near miss
  • Never event

An adverse event can be a preventable, unintended injury or prolonged hospitalization caused by not following usual practices. Latent errors are often undetected errors caused by problematic equipment or organization that can lead to harm. Active errors happen when a medical professional operates incorrectly or makes a mistake while performing a medical procedure.

A medical error is defined in multiple ways such as a failure to complete a plan, an unintentional action, deviations from healthcare standards, and acts of omission. Medical errors may turn into negligence when a patient suffers significant harm. Negligent adverse events occur when a preventable outcome results in patient harm due to improper medical actions.

A near miss is an action that could have caused harm to a patient but did not. These may occur more often during complicated or quick procedures during emergency care. Never events are medical errors that should never happen due to their severity. An example would be a wrong-site surgery.

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 like:

  • 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 can mean a patient relationship with your 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 will deny what happened and others may go further and attempt to conceal evidence. Consider contacting a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer to explore ways around this.

Damages include any physical or emotional harm you suffered from the negligence committed by a medical professional. These can take the form of economic damages like medical bills and lost wages or non-economic damages like:

  • 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 will be expected to prove how the negligent act caused any damages you claim to have suffered. Depending on the circumstances, this can also be difficult to prove in court, especially when the medical professional is working against you.

Working with an experienced lawyer can help put all of these elements together to increase the chances of a successful lawsuit. Once hired, your lawyer can take over the often tedious processes of collecting evidence, building a lawsuit, and defending the lawsuit in court. A lawyer can help you gather witnesses and expert witnesses to testify for your case.

You do not have to do this alone. One of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help you start building your malpractice claim today. We are prepared to defend your claim in court and will find ways to maximize your compensation. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns related to medical malpractice.

Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney

Figuring out whether the harm you suffered from a medical professional was due to negligence can be difficult. Feel free to call Peterson and Associates P.C. by dialing (816) 888-8888 to speak with a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer for a consultation today. Our team of attorneys can help you obtain compensation for physical harm, pain and suffering, and medical bills associated with malpractice. We can be found in Kansas City, Missouri.