Facing medical issues is understandably unnerving. Whether you’ve known your doctor for years or you’re meeting a physician for the first time, it can be difficult to feel as though you really understand what’s going on with your health. Medical professionals have a responsibility to ensure their patients receive the best possible care and treatment. When mistakes are made, you may benefit from hiring a Louisville medical malpractice lawyer.
In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine released a comprehensive study on medical errors. The study determined that more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States result from healthcare mistakes. It’s clear that instances of medical malpractice are common. Because of this, our attorneys stay abreast on malpractice law, so we can provide our clients with the best possible legal representation.
If you’ve been injured by a healthcare professional and are looking to hold the entity accountable for their actions and seek recovery from the damages you’ve incurred, we are here for you. Let’s take a look at some common med mal mistakes.
Examples of Negligent Medical Mistakes
Medical negligence occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional who fails to provide proper healthcare treatment in a reasonable amount of time. There are a number of different types of medical malpractice that can have devastating consequences for patients. Below you’ll find the most common.
- Misdiagnosis. When a doctor wrongfully diagnoses a serious condition, the patient might miss opportunities for treatment that could have prevented serious harm or even death. Diagnoses can also be delayed or missed altogether. If a patient is not treated in a reasonable amount of time based on their symptoms, their condition could worsen. If their illness isn’t diagnosed at all, the consequences could be deadly.
- Surgical Errors. Medical malpractice claims can arise from errors that are made during surgery. Some of the mishaps that could occur during surgery include puncturing internal organs, wrong-site surgery, leaving surgical instruments or sponges inside the patient’s body, or fires.
- Birth Injuries. Trauma during childbirth could cause serious injuries for the baby including brain injuries, broken bones, and nerve damage. Conditions like cerebral palsy can develop. Such injuries are entirely preventable and are often caused by a physician’s or obstetrician’s negligence. Negligent prenatal care or lack of proper diagnosis of certain conditions could also lead to problems during or after labor.
- Medication Errors. Medication errors harm millions in the United States each year. These mistakes occur when the prescription is inaccurate or when the drug is improperly administered. One of the most common medication errors involves dosage, when a patient gets too little or too much of a drug. Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are all responsible for ensuring patients receive the proper medications.
- Anesthesia Mistakes. Even a minor error made by an anesthesiologist could result in permanent injury. Anesthesia errors often made during surgery include improper dosage, failure to properly intubate patients, and failing to monitor the patient. If a person receives too much anesthesia, they can suffer from oxygen deprivation and brain damage. Too little anesthesia can result in waking up during surgery or experiencing unnecessary pain.
Causes of Medical Malpractice
The examples above often result from the same negligent patterns. The actions or inactions that lead to malpractice are entirely preventable, which is why victims deserve compensation to aid in their recovery. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons malpractice occurs.
- Communication Errors. While the running joke goes that doctors have poor penmanship, something as minor as an illegible chart can have serious consequences. If a patient’s medical team isn’t all on the same page as far as treatment plans, the patient may not receive the care they need. Miscommunications also occur when established protocols aren’t followed.
- Understaffing. Hospitals are notoriously understaffed. As a result, patients may receive delayed care, or medical staff may be tasked with procedures they’re not prepared for.
- Inadequate Training. When a doctor is pressured to perform a procedure they haven’t done or do not know how to do, they may do so to not risk seeming incompetent; however, this puts patients’ lives at risk. The procedure or surgery could quickly go wrong if the doctor doesn’t know how to correctly follow through. Even if the procedure goes well, the patient could suffer consequences later on.
- Fatigue. Because of the understaffing, healthcare professionals are often overworked. This can quickly lead to fatigue. Doctors and nurses will not be able to treat patients properly if they’re feeling tired.
- Drug or Alcohol Abuse. While rare, there are instances where doctors or other staff choose to work with patients while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible, and always puts patients’ lives in danger.
No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your medical injury, if negligence was involved you deserve justice. We understand that many medical errors can result in lifelong, debilitating conditions. We also recognize how expensive it can be to manage something like that. We’re here to work for you, so you can reestablish yourself in a way that works for you and your family.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Kentucky
In order to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, you’ll need to be aware of the Kentucky-specific laws that will pertain to your case. These procedural rules need to be obeyed in order to receive the outcome you’re looking for. At Thomas Law Offices, we stay up-to-date on any and all law changes to ensure we’re providing you with the best legal representation. Let’s take a look at some of the most applicable laws surrounding med mal cases.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a set limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Kentucky’s med mal time limit is established under the Revised Statutes section 413.140. According to that section, the case must be filed within one year after the action that caused the injury took place or was discovered. If the lawsuit is not filed within the year, it will likely be dismissed without review.
There is also a larger, catch-all filing deadline in Kentucky. This statute declares any medical malpractice claim must be filed within five years of the error. Once those five years have passed, the court can dismiss the case, even if you didn’t know or couldn’t have known you were harmed.
As you can see, it’s incredibly important to abide by the statute of limitations. The right attorney will be able to determine when your time to file starts or started, so you don’t run out of time.
Medical Review Panel Process
In 2017, Kentucky Legislature determined a medical malpractice lawsuit could only be filed if the proposed complaint was filed with a medical review panel and the panel issued an opinion on the alleged negligence.
The panel, complete with one attorney and three healthcare providers, is tasked with reviewing medical records, witness testimony, and other applicable evidence brought forward. They are required to determine whether the evidence supports negligent actions and if the medical professional harmed the patient as a result. They have 30 days to do this. If nine months have passed without an issued opinion, the lawsuit can proceed in the court system.
If a patient files a report with the medical review panel and they agree negligence took place, their opinion is not considered a ruling. The lawsuit will proceed. In some cases, a complaint does not need to be filed. This may be the case if all parties are willing to forgo the process, all parties agree to submit a binding arbitration, or if the lawsuit was filed before March 2017.
While a number of states have imposed caps on the amount of compensation a party can receive from a med mal lawsuit, this is not the case in Kentucky. The injured patient is free to recover for all financial losses that can be traced back to the malpractice.
Injured parties may be able to receive compensation for past, present, and future medical bills, lost wages from time off work, pain and suffering, and more.
Proving Negligence with a Med Mal Lawyer in Kentucky
Med mal cases are often incredibly complex. Not all medical errors result in malpractice cases. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in order to prove malpractice, the following elements need to be present:
- Duty. This refers to the obligatory standard of care medical professionals are supposed to comply with when treating patients.
- Dereliction. This occurs when a doctor or nurse neglects to provide the standard of care.
- Damages. The patient needs to show that they were injured or suffered in some way.
- Direct Cause. There needs to be a connection made between the dereliction and damages.
If you believe your case meets those elements, you may be able to seek compensation for what you’ve been through. Our Louisville medical malpractice attorneys can examine your claim and determine what the best course of action is for you based on your circumstances. We understand the emotional and financial challenges you may be facing due to no fault of your own. You should not have to pay for someone else’s incompetence or carelessness. Contact our law firm today for more information.