Statistics by the National Practitioner Data Bank report that medical patients in Missouri reported 467 adverse events, and 173 patients received payouts for medical malpractice. In Kansas, 493 adverse events and 109 medical malpractice payouts were reported.

These numbers may be significantly lower than the actual occurrences of medical malpractice. A study by the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine concluded that an estimated 161,250 avoidable deaths occur annually in U.S. hospitals.

Medical malpractice represents a serious breach of trust. The Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Brown & Crouppen are committed to holding negligent health care providers accountable and ensuring patients and their families are compensated for the resulting injuries.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when health care providers fail to exercise the standard of care expected of a reasonably prudent medical professional with equivalent qualifications, given the circumstances. A successful case proves the following elements:

  • Duty of care – A patient/provider relationship has been established.
  • Breach of duty – The provider fell short of the reasonable standard of care.
  • Causation – The breach of duty caused an injury that would not have occurred except for the breach.
  • Proximate cause – The breach of duty and not something else is the cause of the injury.

What qualifies as medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice can occur at the hospital, the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, and even over the phone, such as during telemedicine visits. Medical malpractice can be a harmful act or a failure to act, also known as an omission.

Diagnostic Errors

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose

Surgical Errors

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Foreign objects left inside the body
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Performing procedures improperly
  • Failure to properly manage adverse or unanticipated events during surgery
  • Inadequate sterilization

Medication Errors

  • Administering the incorrect dosage
  • Dispensing the wrong drug
  • Prescribing an inappropriate drug or dosage
  • IV errors

Birth Injuries

The following adverse events during childbirth can lead to birth injuries:

  • Deprivation of oxygen
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
  • Failure to provide a timely C-section
  • Improper prescribing during prenatal visits
  • Improper use of anesthesia

These adverse events can be life-threatening and may result in lifelong complications, such as the following:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Hypo-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Neurological disorders

Nursing Home Malpractice

Two out of three nursing home staff admitted to having abused patients during the past year when surveyed during a 2020 study by the World Health Organization. This includes overt acts of abuse and neglect by nursing home staff.

Nursing Home Abuse

  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Nursing Home Neglect

  • Failure to provide necessary food and water
  • Failure to provide necessary medication
  • Failure to reposition to prevent pressure ulcers
  • Failure to maintain hygiene
  • Failure to provide necessary supervision

How much is the average medical malpractice settlement?

The Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance reported that the average medical malpractice award in Missouri in 2020 was $499,035. However, every case is unique, and this number is not an indication of how much can be expected in any individual case. Medical malpractice awards can range from a few thousand to millions.

Medical malpractice damages in Kansas City may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages depending on the facts of the case.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are verifiable monetary damages that include medical expenses and lost wages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are subjective losses that stem from the injury, such as pain and suffering. These losses can also include losses of life activities and relationship benefits. Non-economic damage awards can be significant. State laws limit non-economic damage awards. 

These limits are variable for Kansas City patients, depending on where your case occurs. The damage cap in Kansas is set at $350,000 as of July 1, 2022, according to Kansas statutes.

Missouri patients were initially subject to a $400,000 limit unless the patient died or suffered a catastrophic injury because of the malpractice, in which case the state law raised the limit to $700,000. However, the Missouri Department of Insurance adjusts this amount annually for inflation. As of 2022, the caps are $450,098 and $787,671, respectively.

Punitive Damages

Unlike other types of damages, punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant rather than compensate the victim. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant’s injurious conduct was intentional or flagrantly reckless. 

In Missouri, punitive damages are only awarded in medical malpractice cases when the plaintiff can prove that the injury was intentionally inflicted. 

Kansas state law limits punitive damages to the lesser of $5 million or the defendant’s annual gross income during any of the five years immediately preceding the injurious act.

If the court deems this amount inadequate, the court may award up to 50 percent of the defendant’s net worth instead.

Who is liable for medical malpractice?

Any licensed health care provider acting in their licensed capacity is liable for negligence. This includes the following:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Therapists
  • Home health aids
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes

This is not an exhaustive list.

What is the statute of limitations on medical malpractice?

The statute of limitations varies for Kansas City residents depending on the state where your claim is filed. 

In Missouri, the statute of limitations is based on when you knew or should have known about your injury. This is known as the discovery rule. However, the statute of repose states that in no case can a lawsuit be filed more than ten years after the incident.

The Kansas statute of repose is only four years from the date of occurrence.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is not always straightforward. There are many exceptions in the laws of both states. 

Medical malpractice cases require thorough preparation and review. Your medical malpractice attorney will need ample time to ensure this can be done well ahead of the deadlines. For this reason, Kansas City medical malpractice claimants should contact an attorney as soon as possible after their injury becomes known.

How to Start a Medical Malpractice Claim

Filing a medical malpractice claim requires specialized knowledge in the medical field and legal fields

  1. Gather and review medical records.
  2. Gather and review medical bills.
  3. Document your injuries.
  4. Identify the correct defendants.
  5. Obtain a letter of causation from a qualified physician if filing in Missouri.
  6. If filing in Kansas, obtain a medical expert for testimony as required by Kansas statute. 
  7. File the case in your local jurisdiction.

How can Brown & Crouppen help with my medical malpractice case?

Obtaining and reviewing medical records can be a complex and expensive process. Health care providers are not always eager to turn over these records, and finding physicians willing to write a letter of causation that may work against other physicians can be challenging and expensive.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney has the knowledge, skills, and resources to easily obtain all the information needed to prepare and file your case.

How much does a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney cost?

Brown & Crouppen operates on a contingency fee, which means you only pay if you win. Your fee will be a percentage of the compensation you recover.

Why should I choose Brown & Crouppen to help me with my medical malpractice case?

When you hire Brown & Crouppen, you get access to a team of award-winning attorneys that have been recognized as leading attorneys in the nation. Several of our attorneys are nationally recognized by our peers for their extraordinary client care and achievements.

Awards and Recognition

  • Super Lawyers
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Missouri Lawyers Media “Winningest Plaintiff Attorney”
  • Missouri Lawyers media “Diversity and Inclusion Leader”

Our law firm is a leader in promoting equality and building more inclusive communities where we work and live. We actively participate in community outreach efforts and partner with local organizations that promote equality and diversity.

We are actively involved in numerous local charities, including Habitat for Humanity and local food banks. We work with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, participate in the Top Golf Kansas City fundraiser, and support the Huntington’s Disease Society of America through Kansas City Love Local.

With a Brown and Crouppen attorney on your side, you can expect results. Below are just a few examples of the remarkable results our attorneys have achieved for our clients during their greatest time of need:

  • $19 million verdict for a woman whose son suffered a brain injury due to medical malpractice
  • $40 million settlement against a drug company that concealed a medication’s dangers
  • $2 million in the wrongful death of a boat mechanic

If you have been injured by a negligent health care provider, you may be entitled to recover significant compensation. The clock on the statute of limitations is running. Consult a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer at no charge before time runs out.

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