Because we usually have complete faith in our healthcare providers, we rarely expect them to make an error. Unfortunately, a doctor or surgeon’s error can have dangerous and possibly life-threatening consequences. Negligent medical errors can make you miss work and cause painful injuries that require further expensive medical attention. It’s also likely you’ll be frustrated that you have to go through a recovery process that wasn’t planned.
Filing a claim can be difficult, as this area of law can be complex; but you don’t have to go through this alone. An experienced Lexington medical malpractice lawyer can ease the claim process for you.
At Golden Law Office, we believe in defending your rights and fighting to get the compensation you need and deserve. We’re ready to serve the citizens of Kentucky and handle their claims with care and tenacity. You can rest assured that someone is looking out for your rights, and our goal is to get you the best settlement possible.
Defining Medical Malpractice in Kentucky
Med mal cases arise when a healthcare professional is medically negligent and injures a patient. When the level of care falls below the industry standard, harm is possible. In Kentucky, any health care provider that is licensed or certified to perform medical treatments or services may be found to have acted negligently if they do any of the following:
- Fail to diagnose or misdiagnose
- Fail to treat or unacceptably treat
- Prescribe the wrong medication or dosage of medication
- Cause birth injuries during treatment
If you believe you’ve been injured as a result of medical negligence, you should consider contacting a med mal attorney as soon as possible to determine if you have grounds to take legal action. It’s important to remember if taking legal action, you need to do so with the legally established statute of limitations. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes section 413.140(1)(e), victims have one year after the cause of the action accrued to file a claim. Missing the deadline will result in a dismissed case.
Common Negligent Medical Mistakes
Medical malpractice can be done by any medical professional treating you. You probably think the most likely people to commit med mal mistakes are doctors, surgeons, or nurses, but there are more people who can commit malpractice. People who run the hospital, own the hospital, and pharmacists can also be held liable. All it takes is for one of these parties to not pay attention for one moment and their negligence causes you harm.
Common medical malpractice claims include mistakes revolving around the following:
- Surgical Error. Surgeons may do the wrong operation on a patient, perform surgery on the wrong spot or “wrong-site surgery,” and even perform unnecessary surgery on a patient. In other cases, surgical tools or gauze may be left in the surgical site, which can cause infections and pain. The patient would then have to have additional procedures to remove those tools.
- Failure to Diagnose. A negligent doctor may not recognize symptoms to point to a definitive diagnosis, while others in their medical profession would. This can be especially dangerous if they do not recognize symptoms of a heart condition or issues with the brain, both vital organs that need the correct treatment as soon as possible.
- Misdiagnosis. Similar to failing to diagnose, doctors can also diagnose a patient with the wrong condition or disease. This could lead to getting treatment for the wrong illness or injury, and their real problem is left untreated.
- Misreading Test Results. Failing to read a scan, test, or lab result correctly could mean the patient doesn’t get the treatment they need or serious conditions go unnoticed.
- Failure to Inform Patient of Risks. Medical procedures all have risks. Patients are supposed to be clearly informed of what is going to happen and what could possibly happen if they go through with a procedure. Failing to inform patients means they have given their consent without knowing all the facts. After hearing about certain risks, they may decide to not go through with a procedure – which is their legal right.
- Improper Medication. Doctors can prescribe the wrong medication and pharmacists can also fill the wrong prescription. This could have disastrous effects on the patient’s health because the drug could interact with other drugs the patient takes, their diet, and other pre-existing conditions. Improper dosage is also an issue that can put the patient’s health and wellbeing at risk.
Medical malpractice can sometimes lead to the wrongful death of a loved one. If you’ve lost someone because of a medical professional’s negligent actions, we may be able to help you get justice with a wrongful death claim.
You may be eligible to receive compensation if you depended on your loved one for financial support or if you ran a household together. This includes lost wages, lost companionship, and loss of future earnings. Other areas of compensation include funeral expenses, medical expenses, and their pain and suffering. You may also be able to get compensation for punitive damages, which is meant to be a financial punishment for the guilty party.
Causes of Medical Errors
The mistakes listed above do not happen for no reason. There are often specific causes that can be linked back to the error and harm that occurred.
- Communication Errors. A patient is typically assigned a team of doctors and medical staff. Those individuals need to communicate frequently regarding treatments, medications, and progress, to ensure the patient is receiving the best possible care. If, for example, a nurse forgets to record when a dosage of medication was given, another nurse could come in and administer an extra dose without knowing it. The complications could be severe depending on the medication.
- Fatigue. It’s no secret that doctors and medical professionals work long hours; however, there are restrictions in place to ensure employees receive the rest they need. If a doctor decides to avoid taking a break or takes extra shifts, they are putting their patients at risk. Preventable mistakes are much more likely to occur when a doctor is tired. Focus and decision-making are significantly impacted by fatigue.
- Understaffing. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities often find themselves to be understaffed. This can be incredibly dangerous. If one person is assigned too many patients, they’re likely to make mistakes. Understaffing also encourages working longer hours – which can result in fatigue.
- Inexperience. A medical professional may be willing to perform or recommend a new treatment without the experience or background knowledge needed in order to not look incompetent. This can be particularly dangerous during surgery.
- Drugs or Alcohol. The medical profession is one of the more stressful career paths. As a result, some health care providers may result to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Treating patients while under the influence of any substance is unethical, irresponsible, and illegal.
Components of a Successful Med Mal Case
For your malpractice claim to be successful, you need to be able to prove several essential points. Your lawyer will be able to help you obtain evidence to build the strongest case possible.
- Proof of a Doctor-Patient Relationship. You need to show that you went to the doctor or medical professional to treat you and they agreed to be hired.
- Proof of Negligence. Not being happy with your treatment doesn’t mean medical malpractice occurred. Negligence is when the medical professional didn’t meet the standard of care—or how a competent medical professional would have acted had they been treating you. You wouldn’t have been injured if this doctor hadn’t been the one to treat you.
- Connect the Negligence to the Injury. Clearly show how the doctor’s negligence directly caused your injury.
- The Injury Caused Harm. It’s also important to show how the injury affected you. This could be from how it caused pain, prevented you from working or living your everyday life, and caused suffering.
You can go on to prove that this injury cost you additional medical expenses that you should never have had to deal with in the first place.
While you need these points for a medical malpractice case, you also need to make sure you’re not doing anything to possibly jeopardize your claim. One thing to stay away from is posting about your case on social media. These posts can be used against you as evidence that your injuries aren’t as severe, or your situation isn’t as bad as you claim. When this happens, you may not get full compensation.
Compensation for Medical Malpractice Errors in Kentucky
Depending on your circumstances and the type of injury or loss you’ve sustained, it can seem overwhelming to try to place a dollar amount on it. To determine what equates to fair compensation, damages are broken down into economic and noneconomic categories. Economic damages are those that can be calculated exactly. Noneconomic damages are the opposite and can be more difficult to determine.
Economic damages include the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Additional financial loses
Noneconomic damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
There are no caps on med mal damages in Kentucky, which means victims are able to recover all financial losses that can be attributed to the medical professional’s malpractice.
Seek Legal Guidance From a Golden Law Office Attorney
Medical malpractice claims can be expensive and complex. Without legal aid, you may feel pressure to settle the matter as early as possible, but this could leave you with less compensation than you deserve. A case like this needs experts who know the law and what you need to get a full and fair settlement.
At Golden Law Office, you’ll be paired with a skilled and compassionate Lexington medical malpractice lawyer who is ready to go above and beyond to get you the results you deserve. We’re here to fight for you and ensure nothing is overlooked. You won’t have to worry about any harassing calls from insurance adjusters or any other party trying to get an official statement, so they can minimize your settlement and end your case. Your attorney will take those calls while you focus on recovery.
Schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss the merits of your case and how to proceed. We’ll work together to find the best path for you.