Lexington Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Doctors, nurses, technicians, surgeons, dentists, pharmacists, and other medical professionals and their teams have a legal obligation to treat patients with a certain standard of care to help them to the best of their abilities and ensure mistakes do not happen. If you or a loved one has suffered because of an error made in any type of medical setting, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the professional or institution.
In the state of Kentucky, you can do so with the help of a Lexington medical malpractice lawyer. Filing a claim may allow your family to recover from a painful incident that shouldn’t have happened. Whether you were prescribed the wrong medication and suffered as a result, neglected in a hospital or emergency room, or suffered after a surgical mistake was performed on you, you should know that legal help is available.
Filing a lawsuit may let your family receive financial compensation that can go toward recovery costs, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and more. In addition, it helps send a message our state’s hospitals and doctor’s clinics cannot ignore. Patient safety must be made a priority. Mistakes by medical professionals should not be tolerated.
How Often Do Medical Errors Occur?
While our hospitals are often places of treatment and healing, there are too many instances of medical malpractice. A staggering number of those incidents result in fatalities. According to a 2016 study by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are the direct result of a medical error, which equates to ten percent of all deaths.
Those numbers make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the country. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not report on this because the deaths are unintentionally excluded from national health statistics.
The study attributed the majority of mistakes to a broken system. In order to decrease the instances of fatal errors, the study claims changes need to be made to how care is coordinated, insurance networks, safety nets, and how doctors are held accountable for their actions.
Why Do Medical Professionals Make Mistakes?
It’s a simple fact that most hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical clinics are woefully understaffed in the state of Kentucky and throughout the United States. Understaffing comes with consequences, unfortunately, and so do other poor hospital/hiring procedures and policies such as inadequate employee training and supervision.
When hospital employees are overworked due to understaffing, it becomes easier for mistakes to happen. Understaffed medical facilities also tend to cut corners in other ways such as staff supervision, training, and one-on-one patient care. When a conversation between a patient and doctor only lasts two to five minutes, it becomes easier for a doctor to omit vital details or fail to ask questions regarding medication history, allergic reactions, etc. This makes it possible for information to slip through the cracks.
If a medical error happens due to poor training procedures, for example, or a nurse fails to check if a patient is allergic to a medication, these errors are the type that are 100 percent preventable. If a surgeon amputates the wrong foot due to a nurse or technician failing to mark the right limb, this is a mistake that is easily avoidable. Cases like these are prime examples of medical malpractice and are a direct result of medical negligence.
Negligence is a term we use to describe careless, reckless, or otherwise wrongful actions that do not follow the expected standards of care. In a medical setting, all medical professionals and team members are expected to pay proper attention to their patients and make sure they’re doing everything to help them make a recovery. To do otherwise is negligent—and unprofessional.
If a hospital staff member becomes distracted, for example, and makes a mistake or performs actions which lead to a mistake, we say this is an example of negligence. If a pharmacist gives a patient the wrong dosage of medication despite the prescription stating the correct amount, this is also negligence. Errors that result from negligence are preventable.
Understanding Standards of Care
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s likely your doctor, nurse, or other provider was not acting within the accepted standard of care. Understanding this concept is crucial to proving your claim. Standard of care is not a medical term, but a legal term. It refers to the degree of skill and care the average health care provider will provide patients with. It’s how physicians in any specialty would customarily act when faced with similar situations.
In addition to determining how a reasonable physician would react to a situation, the standard of care also refers to informal or formal guidelines that are accepted in the medical community for treatment of a disease or condition.
If you believe your physician or medical provider acted negligently, your lawyer can speak with other physicians in similar specialties to determine how those individuals would have acted. If there are significant differences, you may be able to hold the doctor accountable for their actions.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
The scope of potential medical malpractice claims is rather wide. Essentially, any type of error or mistake which results in injury, harm, or lasting suffering may count as malpractice. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice cases we see include the following situations:
- Surgical Errors. Prior to a procedure, the surgical team is supposed to verify your identity and the surgery you’ll be undergoing. In the event communication is poor or someone neglects to check your chart, you could end up undergoing a procedure on the wrong side of your body. In the most severe cases, a good organ or limb could be removed. There’s also the chance you could have a surgery that was meant for a different patient.
- Misdiagnoses. A misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is told they have a different condition than what they actually have. Negligence comes into play if the doctor did not follow exam protocols or if they hastily diagnosed you. Delayed diagnoses are also an issue. If a patient is experiencing symptoms that are not treated efficiently, their condition could significantly worsen.
- Failure to Treat/Diagnose. This can happen if a patient is discharged too early from the hospital without an official diagnosis. If a doctor believes the patient is fine but another doctor would have picked up on symptoms pointing to a condition, the first physician should be held accountable for their negligence.
- Medication Errors. It is incredibly important that patients receive the proper amount of medication based on their needs and what their bodies can handle. There are multiple people who can be held accountable if you’ve suffered as a result of a medication error. Doctors write the scripts, pharmacists ensure the script is filled, and nurses generally administer the medication – depending on what it is.
- Emergency Room Delays. It’s no surprise that emergency rooms are busy places. When an understaffed hospital starts to make mistakes, it’s possible a person with flu symptoms or a migraine could be seen before a person experiencing severe chest pain or trouble breathing.
- Birth Injuries. Expectant mothers assume they will receive the best care during pregnancy and labor. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If the doctor makes a mistake early on in the pregnancy, a condition could go unnoticed. If a mistake is made during delivery, the child could sustain serious, life-long injuries.
- Defective Medical Devices. Manufacturers of medical devices are supposed to ensure their products are safe for people. When defective products, like hip replacements or heart valves, are surgically implanted into patients and it’s later discovered the device is causing ill effects, it’s likely another surgery will need to be done to correct the issue. This can be time-consuming, painful, and expensive.
- Anesthesia Errors. Prior to surgery, it’s an anesthesiologist’s job to determine how much anesthesia a patient will need. While the procedure is happening, they’re supposed to watch the patient and ensure no complications are arising because of the anesthesia. When these medical professionals make mistakes, the consequences can be severe. Too much anesthesia could result in brain death, while too little could result in awareness or pain.
What Must Be Proven in a Kentucky Medical Negligence Claim?
Medical malpractice claims differ from state to state. In the state of Kentucky, the following points will need to be proven before a claim will be accepted by the court:
- A patient-doctor relationship or similar duty of care was established.When you go to the hospital, you must first see a doctor before a concept called “duty of care” can apply to your case. This is when a doctor meets with you, tells you their plan of care, and establishes what should happen next. If this step never happens, a medical malpractice claim may not be possible.
- That duty of care was breached.This is where you prove the malpractice occurred. If, for example, you’re admitted into the hospital and unknowingly given a prescription that triggers a serious allergic reaction you had warned your doctor about, your attorney will need to prove that the doctor failed to make note of the reaction or that a nurse failed to see your record.
- The breach of duty caused direct injury.This is often the most difficult part to prove in a medical negligence case. Your lawyer will need to prove that the complication or injury you’re experiencing is directly tied to the mistake that happened. Your case will require expert testimony to succeed.
- The injury was serious enough to have lasting effects.Injury lawsuits like medical malpractice suits require the victim to have suffered from a serious loss in quality of life. It must be proven that you and your family suffered before you will be rewarded with damages. The damages (compensation) you receive will go toward improving your quality of life.
What Compensation Is Available for Med Mal Victims?
It’s likely you’ll have a variety of expenses related to your injury. Whether you’ve had time away from work or have had to undergo additional procedures, the bills can pile up quickly. You may be able to seek compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses. This will include bills you’ve incurred from the time the incident occurred to the present. You may also be able to seek monetary awards for future care, depending on your injury.
- Lost Wages. If you’ve had to take time off work to deal with your injury, it’s likely that time was unpaid. You may be eligible for compensation to cover the time you were away.
- Lost Earning Capacity. If your injury has changed your life to the point you’re no longer able to work, you can seek compensation for the money you would have earned. This includes employee benefits.
- Pain and Suffering. In Kentucky, there are no caps on noneconomic damages. Pain and suffering is often valued based on what the jury thinks of the plaintiff and defendant, how the case is presented, and whether or not the jury understands what has happened.
It’s important to remember that to be eligible for compensation, you must file your claim in time to meet the statute of limitations. In Kentucky, victims have one year from when the injury was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered to file their claim. In the event you neglect to do so, it’s likely your case will be dismissed without review. Your attorney will help you make the deadline, so you don’t lose out on collecting the damages you’re owed.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve
Medical malpractice claims are incredibly complex and often difficult to fight in court due to their complicated nature and the fact that most hospitals and medical facilities boast powerful legal departments that will try and heavily dispute any claims brought forward. The Law Office of Todd W. Burris is prepared to handle intricate injury claims and can help you and your family get the compensation you need to move forward.
We handle every case on a personal basis and understand that compassion is often just as integral to a personal injury claim as proven legal experience. We’re proud to offer both. To learn more, get in touch today.