Countless Lexington, KY residents go see a doctor or another health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner, chiropractor, dentist, mental health therapist, or optometrist, trusting that they’ll receive top-notch care. That doesn’t always happen, though. They leave those appointments or surgical procedures far worse than when they showed up for help. Some individuals even die due to the treatment they receive.
These adverse outcomes occur because doctors are humans and make medical mistakes like the rest of us. The errors medical professionals make can come at a high cost, though. This is why Kentucky law allows individuals who’ve been hurt by licensed health care providers to hold them accountable for their medical negligence that violated the duty of care they’re required to uphold. Our state’s laws allow residents to file medical malpractice lawsuits against a provider who left them with catastrophic injuries or otherwise harmed them.
Filing a medical malpractice claim or a lawsuit isn’t easy, though. Medical malpractice claims are quite complex. Filing medical malpractice lawsuits requires knowledge of Lexington, KY court rules and procedures. This is where a Lexington medical malpractice lawyer from our Kentucky law firm, Thomas Law Offices, can help. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling personal injury cases like yours.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
There are various examples of physician or other healthcare professional negligence that may constitute medical malpractice, including:
Either mom or baby may suffer injuries during childbirth, resulting in adverse health consequences, some of which are temporary and others permanent. Childbirth injuries may even result in a mother, fetus, or newborn prematurely losing their life.
Some of the most common birth injuries that affect newborns include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus injuries
- Erb’s palsy
- Bruising and lacerations
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
Pregnant mothers run a high risk of suffering the following injuries during the birthing process:
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
Doctors who fail to adequately monitor pregnant mothers for high-risk pregnancy risk factors or their vital signs have a stronger likelihood of becoming involved in a troubled childbirth incident. Obstetricians who opt to use forceps, vacuums, and other assistive devices during labor and delivery are more likely to harm babies as they’re being born than those who do not.
Misdiagnoses and Delayed Diagnoses
A misdiagnosis can occur because a doctor fails to ask the right questions, perform the right diagnostic testing, or order the necessary imaging to render an accurate diagnosis.
A delayed diagnosis is a scenario in which a doctor assigns a patient a diagnosis that they believe correctly fits the symptoms a patient is complaining of, yet it ends up being incorrect. A patient may ultimately receive an accurate diagnosis, but only after undergoing treatment for the incorrect condition for some time.
Inaccurate diagnoses are common emergency room errors. A letter to the editor published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that it’s not unheard of for emergency room doctors to misinterpret symptoms, resulting in patients being sent home with brain injuries or heart attack symptoms, who die soon thereafter.
It’s critical that patients receive timely and correct diagnoses in order to adequately treat their condition before it spreads. A patient’s health may significantly decline due to receiving an improper medication or treatment and undergoing the wrong medical procedure. By the time they receive the correct one, their medical condition may be irreversible, or they may have already died.
Radiologic or Pathologic Interpretation Issues
Additional types of medical malpractice associated with diagnoses are radiology imaging or pathology sample identification issues. If a radiologist misreads an X-ray or a pathologist misidentifies a biopsied sample taken from a patient, then it leaves them vulnerable to receiving the wrong diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
There’s an expectation that prescribing physicians and pharmacists have a healthy understanding of the medications that they’re ordering a patient to take or dispensing to them. A doctor is supposed to have an understanding of medical conditions a prescription medication treats, appropriate dosages, side effects, contraindications, or potential drug interactions.
If a physician fails to ask the necessary questions to find out if a patient is an ideal candidate to take a drug, it can affect their health or claim their life if they take it. Similarly, if a nurse or other healthcare professional charged with administering a medication to a patient isn’t cautious in double-checking to make sure what they’re giving out is the right drug and right dosage for that patient, it can hurt or kill them.
Thousands of patients undergo surgical procedures, both inpatient and outpatient, in Lexington and other parts of Kentucky every day. While most of them go off without a hitch, that’s, unfortunately, not the case with some of them.
One of the worst surgical mistakes that can occur is if a doctor operates on the wrong patient, or perhaps the correct patient, but the wrong body part. Aside from operating on the wrong person or performing a wrong site surgery, another surgical error that falls into the category of “never events” is when a surgeon operates on the right patient but performs the incorrect procedure on them.
Doctors can avoid making such mistakes by performing a time-out procedure before making their initial surgical incision, but even if hospital protocol requires them to do this, many surgeons don’t, which can put a patient’s health and life at risk.
Surgical mistakes may also stem from a medical professional:
- Not using a proper infection control protocol, leading to the onset of a hospital acquired infection
- Inaccurately accounting for gauze or surgical tools before closing up a patient
- Not having adequate training to perform a scheduled procedure
- Members of the surgical team not doing their part to ensure a safe medical procedure (such as monitoring vital signs)
Closely related to surgical mistakes are anesthesia errors. Anesthesiologists are supposed to look at patient data, including their age, weight, and medical history, which should reveal whether they have any allergies, whether there are any contraindications against using certain medications on them given their condition, and other details.
An anesthesiologist who fails to review patient data may put a patient at risk of receiving too much or too little of a sedative or one that they may adversely react to. If given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of it, they may struggle to wake up as expected, or if the dosage of the anesthesia administered isn’t just right, be more alert than the surgeon anticipated and thus be able to hear and feel everything that’s happening.
Informed Consent Issues
While many conditions can be treated with medication without additional testing, further imaging, an in-office procedure, or surgical treatment is necessary to properly diagnose or treat others. A physician must secure a patient’s informed consent before carrying out any treatment that entails:
- Clearly defining for a patient what their diagnosis is
- Letting the patient know of their treatment options, including the one that they’re recommending, any others, and also about the option of doing nothing at all
In terms of the latter, doctors must also share the side effects and prognosis associated with pursuing each of the treatment options discussed.
Physicians administering the informed consent must ensure that the language they use in speaking with their patients is easily understandable to them, and must also give them ample opportunity to ask any questions they may have about their options. A failure to inform a patient of what to expect may result in what they perceive as medical errors, resulting in a doctor facing a lawsuit.
If any of the scenarios described above are similar to something you have gone through yourself, then you may have a valid medical malpractice claim under Kentucky law.
Responsibilities Medical Providers Have When Treating Kentucky Patients
Patients entrust their health and wellbeing to medical professionals. This is why the legal system here in Kentucky requires a medical professional to meet certain duty requirements and standards, such as the following, when treating patients:
Doctors and Other Clinicians Must Uphold a Duty of Care
Medical students take what’s called a Hippocratic Oath before starting clinical rounds with patients. “Do no harm” is central to this oath. It’s a reminder to aspiring doctors of their responsibility to hold a patient’s health in the highest regard so that they don’t suffer any harm at a physician’s hands.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), all physicians have a legal duty to their patients. That duty is to provide a certain standard of care to their patients.
A doctor must first establish a formal doctor-patient relationship to owe that legal responsibility to the person they’ve agreed to serve.
Physicians Must Adhere to a Standard of Care When Treating You
A standard of care comes into play when alleged medical negligence has occurred. A medical malpractice victim must be capable of showing that the care extended to them by their healthcare provider deviated from the norm.
The way in which your Lexington medical malpractice attorney helps you do this is by showing that a physician or other provider in the same geographic area with similar training would have handled your situation differently (in a professionally acceptable way that wouldn’t have caused you harm).
Some examples of the standard of care violations include:
- A doctor misdiagnosed you
- The surgeon operated on the wrong body part or left a surgical tool in your body and stitched you up
As you might have surmised by reading over the examples of violations of standards of care above, not all scenarios that result in an adverse outcome constitute medical negligence. There are risks associated with taking most medications or undergoing most surgeries. However, there are typical red flags Lexington medical malpractice lawyers here at Thomas Law Offices look for when evaluating potential negligence claims. If those exist in your case, then it’s indicative of the fact your provider may have violated the standard of care.
Proving Medical Malpractice Occurred
You or your Lexington medical malpractice lawyer must establish various elements to meet your burden of proof that negligence occurred. Those elements include that:
- You and your physician shared a doctor-patient relationship and thus you were owed a duty of care
- Your doctor or another medical professional acted negligently, breaching their duty of care
- The medical provider negligence resulted in you suffering harm, such as causing a worsening of your illness, an injury, or a loved one’s wrongful death
Proving medical negligence occurred can be complicated, even to the trained eyes of our personal injury lawyers who handle countless medical malpractice cases annually.
This is why medical malpractice lawyers in Lexington like ours at Thomas Law Offices often bring in medical experts to review your medical records. These medical experts comb your medical records to identify when a physician’s or another provider’s actions deviated from the appropriate protocol.
Your Lexington medical malpractice attorney may also call on medical experts as witnesses to testify as to your physician’s negligent behavior at trial if the case ends up being tried in a courtroom.
What To Expect From Thomas Law Offices
It’s not uncommon for medical malpractice lawyers in Lexington to initially pursue a medical malpractice claim by trying to work with a doctor or health care facility to address hospital negligence much like any other business litigation matter. However, if insurance disputes surrounding liability emerge after the filing of that medical malpractice claim, that’s not where your case ends.
In rarer instances in which it doesn’t appear possible to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic damages through the filing of medical malpractice claims, a Lexington medical malpractice attorney from our law office will continue to fight to ensure you receive quality legal representation and can recover compensation.
The lawyer from our Lexington, KY medical malpractice law firm that you develop an attorney-client relationship with will continue to provide you with legal aid necessary to hold any negligent parties responsible for the medical errors they caused, whether a single physician, multiple doctors, or someone or something else. This aggressive approach to pursuing justice is what you need any Lexington attorneys you choose to work with to have when a medical error has left you facing continued medical treatment and mounting medical expenses and lost wages.
Your legal counsel at our Lexington law firm is committed to seeing your serious injury case through to completion to ensure you get the fair compensation you need to cover past medical bills and any medical expenses associated with the further medical treatment you require. Schedule a free consultation with Thomas Law Offices to better understand what it’s going to take to recover fair compensation for what you’ve gone through by getting in touch with us.