Undergoing any type of medical procedure, whether planned or unexpected, is likely to be stressful. Patients expect that their medical team has the knowledge and experience needed to provide them with the care they deserve and that they will leave the hospital in better shape than when they arrived. When subpar care is provided, the consequences can be dangerous and even life-threatening. If you’ve been harmed by a medical professional, you can take legal action with a Lexington medical malpractice lawyer.
If you’re suffering from an injury that you suspect was caused by the negligent actions of your care team, you may be the victim of negligence. When negligence is caused by a professional who works in a field where a standard of care is in place, like in the medical field, this is considered malpractice. Seeking compensation with the assistance of legal representation can help you cope with the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of what you’ve been through.
This area of law is complex, which can make filing a claim difficult—especially if the party you are planning on going up against is an entire hospital. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the process alone. An experienced lawyer can ease the claim process for you and ensure you understand your rights and options every step of the way. Our experienced and understanding attorneys will make sure your voice is heard.
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
Malpractice 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 within 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 injury happened to file a claim. Missing the deadline will result in a dismissed case. Your lawyer will ensure all time restraints are met.
When Medical Negligence Leads to Terrible Mistakes
Medical mistakes can be caused by any member of your care team, at any time during your treatment. While doctor malpractice often refers to direct mistakes your physician makes that cause you harm, hospital negligence may arise if your injury was caused by a fault in the system used to keep track of what you’ve undergone. To prove how you were injured, your lawyer will need to develop an understanding of how you should have been treated versus the treatment you received. Common claims include medical errors revolving around the following:
- Surgical Errors. 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.
- Anesthesia Errors. Anesthesiologists are supposed to administer the correct type and dose of anesthesia for the patient. When they make an error, they could give the patient the incorrect type, which could potentially trigger an allergic reaction and put the patient at risk. When the dosage is too high, the patient is in danger of suffering from brain injuries which could affect their mental and physical functions. When they don’t receive enough, the patient could possibly wake up during surgery and feel high amounts of pain but are not able to communicate to doctors that they’re awake.
- 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. Another way they can fail to diagnose is from not using available medical tests. When you go to the doctor because something is wrong, they’re supposed to go through a series of tests or other measures to eliminate possible problems and figure out what is ailing you. Doctors may not use the options that are available to them to find out the source of your medical problem.
- Misdiagnosis. Similar to failing to diagnose, doctors can also diagnose a patient with the wrong condition or disease. They may arrive at this conclusion because they’ve seen a similar patient or similar symptoms, but this doesn’t mean that you have that ailment. Unfortunately, the doctor or health care provider may be convinced that you have a certain illness or injury when you really have another. This could lead to getting treatment for the wrong illness or injury, and their real problem is left untreated and could potentially worsen.
- 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.
- Emergency Room Errors. People go to the emergency room for all sorts of reasons, with some being more dangerous than others. Doctors need to recognize those possibly experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke and see them immediately. In serious health events, treating them early could possibly prevent permanent damage from occurring. However, negligence can occur if they fail to note the severity of these symptoms and instead put a healthy person with a cough in front of them.
- Birth Injuries. Malpractice errors can affect a pregnant mother or a baby during the pregnancy or labor and delivery. Negligent doctors could potentially give the mother medication that harms the baby. During delivery, the doctor may delay decisions that could have prevented an injury, or incorrectly use tools that harm the baby.
Now that you’re more familiar with the types of injuries that can happen, you’re probably wondering how they occur in the first place. There are a few common characteristics that often lead to medical negligence.
Causes of Medical Errors
The mistakes listed above do not happen without 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. Lexington 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. An issue like this could result in a claim for hospital malpractice.
- 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. This is always a form of doctor negligence.
When you’re wrongfully injured because someone was supposed to take care of you and failed to do so, our Lexington medical malpractice lawyers are to provide legal assistance. You can get the help you need.
Components of a Successful Medical Malpractice 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. Being unhappy 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. Evidence that helps this could be from copies of medical documents that detail your injury and what was needed to treat it.
- 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. Your Lexington medical malpractice attorney will ensure you do not jeopardize your claim in any way.
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. If you have health insurance, there’s a chance a portion of your bills will be paid; however, depending on your coverage, you could be left with substantial remaining expenses that should never have accrued in the first place.
- Lost Wages. While recovering, it’s likely you may be unable to return to work for a period of time. Missing out on wages that you rely on can make living day-to-day a struggle.
- Lost Earning Capacity. Catastrophic injuries resulting from a medical error can seriously impact a person’s ability to work. If you are unable to return to your previous position or are unable to work altogether, lost earning capacity can be calculated and included in your award.
- Additional Financial Loses. There are a number of expenses you could incur as a result of your injury. It can be expensive to travel back and forth to the hospital for treatments, and prescriptions can be costly.
Noneconomic damages include the following:
- Pain and Suffering. This refers to the physical consequences and pain you’ve had to experience because of the mistake made by your care team.
- Mental Anguish. A severe and unexpected injury is likely to have a psychological impact on the victim. Suffering emotionally can affect everyday tasks and make it difficult to find ways to cope with the injury.
- Loss of Consortium. When a person has been injured or killed because of a medical mistake, they may be unable to provide their family members with the benefits of a relationship. This can be especially difficult when a family has children.
There are no caps on medical malpractice damages in Kentucky, which means victims are able to recover all financial losses that can be attributed to the medical professional’s malpractice.
The Importance of Filing a Legal Claim
Going up against a hospital or other negligent health care professional can seem like a daunting task. You may think about the time it could take until you reach a settlement and decide it’s not worth it. But this is not the case. When you have Lexington attorneys by your side, you will always know what’s going on in your case and will have recommendations of what you can do to get the best possible outcome.
You may also need the settlement to cover financial costs of medical expenses and other losses from the injury. Not receiving a settlement could possibly mean not being able to pay those bills which could affect your credit. You shouldn’t have to stress about financial issues when you’re recovering from an injury. You need space and peace of mind so you can heal and start to get back to your everyday life. Part of that process could also include adjusting to your new normal.
Negligent health care providers should not get away with harming their patients. It’s vital that you stand up for yourself to show them that this was unacceptable. A lawsuit sends a message to the hospital that they cannot continue to operate like this and put people at risk of injury or worse. Your actions could make their goal to never have to go through a situation like this again. This could spark change with how the hospital operates. They could adopt stricter policies and procedures that protect their patients from terrible mistakes like the one you suffered from.
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 isn’t a wise decision. When you settle early, you may not know the full extent of your injuries or what the total cost of your economic and noneconomic damages are without a lawyer to calculate them. Deciding to settle early could leave you with less compensation than you deserve, and you won’t have an opportunity to fight for what you’re really owed. 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 and to ensure the negligent party is held accountable for their actions. 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.
Golden Law is a local, Kentucky Law Firm, attorneys/lawyers in Fayette County, Kentucky, working in the fields of personal injury, auto accidents, car and truck wrecks; medical malpractice: doctors, hospitals & nursing homes; senior living abuse: neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, dehydration, bedsores, catastrophic injuries, and broken bones. If you are considering a lawsuit, call us at 859.469.5000 for a free consultation. We are located at 771 Corporate Dr. Suite 800/ Lexington, Kentucky 40503. We handle cases all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We have represented and trained people in major insurance companies & major trucking companies. We have first hand experience and know the ‘inside of the insurance business’ … that’s a distinction that no other law firm can make. We’re Your Advocate. Dale Golden, Laraclay Parker.