Four Key Steps to Proving Medical Malpractice

Four Steps MedicalSt. Louis is a state and regional hub for healthcare, with many well-known and nationally ranked hospitals.  As the home of two medical schools, Washington University and St. Louis University, the area also attracts patients from other continents for life-saving treatments.  All of this inspires confidence when we seek medical care.

Sadly, things can still go wrong when people seek treatment.  Two cases earlier this year show the range and complexity of medical malpractice suits.  In the first, a neurosurgeon was under scrutiny for 10 years by the Missouri medical board, a state commission and appellate courts before finally being placed on probation.  During that time he continued to practice medicine even though more than 50 lawsuits had been filed against him since 1987.   This one surgeon was responsible for causing pain and suffering over more than 20 years.

The second case was altogether different.  An experienced neurosurgeon with a good track record operated on the wrong side of a patient’s brain.  This type of error should never happen, and many procedures are in place to make sure it won’t.  In this case, the failure was not just the physician’s but also the whole system in place to prevent such horrific mistakes.

No two cases of medical malpractice are the same.  However, regardless of the specific facts of your case there are four standards to prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed.  Typically this is not hard to prove, but keep in mind that general advice given by a doctor outside the doctor-patient relationship won’t stand up to a malpractice suit.
  • The doctor was negligent.  Doctors are not liable for malpractice if you are unhappy with your treatment or results.  To be liable, the doctor must have been negligent and harmed you in a way another doctor would not have.
  • The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. This accusation requires testimony by medical experts.  The state of Missouri requires medical testimony to be filed within 90 days of the petition or the case will be dismissed – regardless of the facts of the case.
  • The injury led to specific damages.  The types of harm patients can sue for include:
    • Physical pain;
    • Mental anguish;
    • Additional medical bills; and
    • Lost work and lost earning capacity.

You need to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to assess your case, your chances of success and possible damage awards.  Call the Meehan Law Firm to guide your case to a successful conclusion.


Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 538, Tort Actions Based on Improper Health Care

Dozens of malpractice lawsuits cloud St. Louis neurosurgeon’s career.”  Jim Doyle,  April 28, 2013

Lawsuit accuses surgeon of operating on wrong side of woman’s brain.”  Jim Doyle,  April 30, 2013