It is human nature that as a patient we trust any doctor with our lives, but doctors and healthcare facilities can make mistakes, after all they are human, too. Unfortunately, their mistakes can lead to devastating, irreversible injuries. Surgical malpractice, miscommunication, lack of sanitation, negligence, and/or incompetent physicians can all cause harm to patients who had faith in their abilities. As a physician, it is their responsibility to meet or exceed the standards set before them as they provide care to their patients. Anything beneath the accepted standard that causes harm or death to a patient is considered malpractice.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice In Kentucky?
In Kentucky, medical malpractice occurs when a physician or healthcare professional fails to meet the accepted standards of care in the field, which in turn leads to the harm or death of the patient in their care. When a doctor or hospital’s negligence or carelessness results in an injury or death of a patient, the victim or their family has legal grounds to file a civil claim against the party (or parties) responsible. A doctor, anesthesiologist, nurse, dentist, hospital, urgent care center, birthing center, or any other healthcare professional or facility can serve as the defendant in a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice claims in Kentucky may result in a payment for any damages or expenses, including medical bills or pain and suffering, pertaining to the claim.
Why Should You Hire An Attorney In A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice claims are not easy to battle alone. Understanding laws like the statute of limitations, expert witness assistance, mandatory medical review panel, and additional complicated aspects of the case will need the assistance from an experienced attorney. A Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer will be able to help you cover all aspects of your claim so that you can spend your time recovering and healing. Your lawyer will prioritize making sure that the hospital or doctor responsible does not take advantage of you as settlement negotiations are being made– and they are ready and willing to take your claim to court if it becomes necessary for you to receive the compensation you are entitled to.
How Frequently Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
Most patients are apt to trust their doctors without hesitation. They could never imagine that the physician caring for them would be capable of such extensive negligence that would result in serious illness, injury, or their unsuspected death. However, medical malpractice is more common than you might realize. According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the country. But studies have implied that in reality, it is actually medical mistakes that are the third leading cause of death. After analyzing eight years of medical death rate data, it was discovered that more than 250,000 deaths happen each year due to medical malpractice in the United States. This discovery unseats unintentional injuries on the leading causes of death list. But what led to this disparity? Health statistics do not differentiate between medical mistakes and other causes of death on death certificates. Change should be made to better classify medical malpractice so there is a more accurate understanding of the leading causes of death. Because there are no standardized methods to accurately collect medical malpractice statistics, most patients are not able to fully understand how risky even simple procedures can be. Although there are many doctors that are cautious and pride themselves in offering the best care, there are also many that may not. However, most medical mistakes derive from problems within the system including uncoordinated care, miscommunication, and the lack of safety nets. These errors result in tens of thousands of patient deaths annually in the US alone– in fact, medical malpractice can be to blame for nearly 10% of all deaths in the United States every year.
What Will You Need To Prove To Win A Medical Malpractice Case In Kentucky?
Even those claims where there was undeniable, blatant medical malpractice, Kentucky laws put a burden of proof on the victim and the lawyer representing them. It is left up to the plaintiff to prove the defendant’s carelessness in order to receive financial compensation. Being able to prove your case is less complicated when you have the help of an experienced attorney.
Your attorney will be asked to demonstrate, through extensive evidence, these four main elements to win your claim.
- #1: A duty to exercise a reasonable standard of case existed for the injured or deceased: Your medical malpractice attorney will need to provide evidence that a patient-doctor relationship existed at the time when the medical malpractice event occurred. This relationship shows that the defendant was expected to provide you with a professional level of medical care.
- #2: The defendant violated the standard of care for the injured or deceased: Your attorney then needs to establish that the defendant failed to meet their expected duties of care through an act or omission. You may need testimony from a medical expert to validate that the physician or hospital was negligent to prove this element.
- #3: The defendant’s negligence was directly responsible for the wrongful death: Your lawyer will then need to establish the connections between the defendant’s negligence and the injuries that are being questioned. Unfortunately, the negative outcome is not enough to prove your case on its own. Your attorney will need to have clear proof of a connection to the defendant’s breach of duty.
- #4: There is evidence of real damages occurring: Your attorney will need to use your medical expenses, medical experts, and depositions that prove you suffered extensive damages as a result of medical negligence. These damages can include physical pain and suffering, disability, emotional distress, loss of income, hardship, and medical bills. In addition, the plaintiff and their attorney will have to navigate a complicated web of medical malpractice laws as determined in the state statutes,
Each state has their own rules and requirements for bringing medical malpractice claims and Kentucky is no exception. Working with a Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer enables you to have a complete understanding of such rules and to follow them carefully which can help expedite the entire process and increase the chances that you will be able to get the settlement you are entitled to.
Understanding Medical Malpractice Laws
In order to validate your medical malpractice claim in a Kentucky Court, you will need to follow all the procedures and rules for filing. There is a specific courtroom that will hear your case depending on its value. However, this process will require you to go through a lot of red tape and paperwork in order to get your medical malpractice claim filed against the doctor, hospital, or other medical personnel or facility.
Two of the most important laws in Kentucky for medical malpractice attorneys are:
- #1: Filing deadline for your medical malpractice claim: While some states allow victims in medical malpractice suits to wait as long as five years to file their claim, Kentucky’s statute of limitations is only one year. From the day your injuries are discovered, which might not be the day they occurred, the countdown is on. For example, if the surgeon who performed your operation left a needle or sponge in your body after five years, you will have one year from the date of discovery to file your claim– not the date of the surgery. This is just one reason why hiring an experienced attorney to handle all the fine print will work to your benefit.
- #2: Medical review panel requirement: It is only possible to get your medical malpractice claim heard in a Kentucky court if you first file a complaint document with a medical review panel. This panel of professionals will look at all of the facts from the case, assess the patient’s medical history, hear expert testimony, and then provide their opinion about the merit of the claim. The only way you are able to avoid this step is if all involved parties agree to skip it.
Filing a formal complaint with the panel levees the countdown for the statute of limitations. In addition to the medical review panel, having an expert witness willing to testify in support of your medical malpractice claim can offer you a major advantage in the courtroom. Your expert witness should be a medical professional who is currently working in the same or a similar capacity as the defendant as they can most accurately prove a sensible and cautious professional would not have done what the defendant in your case did that led to your injuries.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Medical Malpractice Claims?
Medical malpractice refers to nearly everything that falls outside of the realm of responsibility of a medical professional and/or medical facility that causes injury to a patient, or in extreme cases, their death.
- Delayed Diagnosis or MIsdiagnosis
- Emergency Room Errors
- Anesthesia Errors
- Surgical Errors
- Injuries during Birth
- Medication Mistakes
Anesthesiologist Negligence And Medical Malpractice
An anesthesia error is considered a form of medical malpractice. This means that a sensible and cautious medical professional could have likely prevented it from occurring under the same circumstances. Not all anesthesia related injuries are the result of negligence, but many are. Your anesthesiologist has a duty to conduct a full patient interview before any surgical procedure. They will review your medical history, current medications, weight, and other factors in order to accurately calculate the dosage needed. During your procedure, your anesthesiologist has to monitor you very carefully to ensure everything is going as planned. They are watching for any signs that something is not going right, such as an increased heart rate or a decrease in oxygen to the brain. Both of these scenarios should send your anesthesiologist into action to fix the problem and keep you from being harmed. If the anesthesiologist fails to attend to any of these job-related duties, and as a result you are injured, it is medical malpractice. In Kentucky, medical negligence claims often involve general anesthesia, local anesthesia, or regional anesthesia.
Risks Associated To Anesthesia Errors And Medical Malpractice
Anesthetics may be toxic and are only effective with careful dosage, close monitoring, and regulation. The slightest mistake can make anesthesia incredibly dangerous or even deadly to an unsuspecting patient. If, for any reason, your anesthesiologist is distracted, is not well trained, miscalculates your dosage, does not monitor you during your procedure, multitudes of injuries can happen.
Some of these may include:
- Brain Damage: If your brain is not receiving adequate oxygen as a result of too much anesthesia or another error, it can lead to permanent brain damage.
- Intubation-Related Injuries: Tracheal damage, amongst other injuries, may happen if a medical professional improperly intubates the patients as they prepare for anesthesia.
- Cardiovascular Damage: A stroke or heart attack might happen under anesthesia due to improper dosage.
- Birth Defects: If an expectant mother undergoes surgery in the first or second trimester, there is an increased chance that the developing fetus might suffer from birth defects. Exposure to harmful anesthetic gasses have been known to cause birth defects or miscarriage.
- Anesthesia Awareness: Not enough anesthesia might cause a rare state known as “anesthesia awareness” in which the patient is aware of everything that is going on but is unable to move or speak. Some patients who have experienced this report psychological trauma.
- Coma or Death: A traumatic brain injury or brain damage can lead to a coma or even death to a patient as a result of avoidable anesthesia errors.
Who Is Responsible For Medical Malpractice?
In Kentucky, different parties may be held accountable for medical malpractice. This includes everything from medical professionals to medical facilities such as doctors and surgeons to hospitals and nursing homes. All factors in your case will determine who is responsible; different individuals that played a part in a malpractice case can be held accountable for any damages that were caused.
The following facilities and professionals could be held responsible:
- Medical Hospitals
- Psychiatric Hospitals
- Urgent Care Centers
- Nursing Homes
- And more..
Can More Than One Party Be Held Accountable In A Medical Malpractice Case?
Absolutely! Multiple individuals and the facility where the injury happened can be held responsible in medical malpractice cases. There are certain situations where one party is not completely responsible for the damages that were caused. When multiple parties are responsible for these kinds of claims, each party should be held accountable for their role. Kentucky operates under comparative fault– Kentucky Revised Statute 411.182 (2) says that: “In determining the percentage of fault, the trier of fact shall consider both the nature of the conduct of each party at fault and the extent of the causal relation between the conduct and the damages claimed.” Depending on the percentage of fault attributed to one party, the party that is determined to be partially responsible for the damages caused to the victim will be held accountable for their part of the damages or injuries. In comparative fault states, like Kentucky, fault may be applied to multiple parties. Depending on the severity of the damages that each party was found responsible for, a percentage of fault could be assigned to each of the parties involved based upon their role in the damages caused.
How To Prepare For A Medical Malpractice Suit
While your Kentucky medical malpractice attorney will handle the majority of the preparation for your claim on your behalf, you can reduce the costs and potentially shorten your case’s timeline by assisting your attorney where you can. Knowing how to prepare for your initial consultation with your attorney, your first deposition, and mediation or a medical malpractice trial will help you arrive completely prepared and ready to get your case settled. Preparing the necessary documents, records, and statements can help your attorney get started.
Here are important documents your attorney will need to start fighting for your compensation:
- Medical Records: You will need to contact the hospital or medical facility where the malpractice occurred and request copies of your medical records. These records might contain evidence of the malpractice, such as your complaints of chronic pain or additional signs/symptoms after a surgeon negligently left a foreign object behind, as well as x-ray images that show said object. Your medical records can help your attorney get a clear picture of your medical history and your current state.
- Hospital Bills: Keep all of your hospital bill statements as they are delivered to you and any record of payments you make. You should keep all receipts and billing statements pertaining to your case, this includes your gas receipts for getting to and from the doctor’s office, any hotel or airbnb stays near your specialists, payments for necessary prescription medicine, the cost to make any needed vehicle or home modification to accommodate your disability, and bills for in-home care.
- Proof of Loss of Income: If you were forced to take time off as a result of your medical malpractice incident to go to doctor’s appointments, undergo surgeries, or recover, you need to gather copies of your time-off requests, paystubs, and any emails or letters between you and your employer. If your employer offered you a lower-level job with less pay to accommodate your injuries, keep a copy of this offer or any communication about it. Evidence of lost wages will help you get fair compensation for such losses.
- Record of Important Details: As soon as you suspect a medical malpractice case, you need to begin documenting your experience. Keep a record of important details like the date and time of the malpractice incidence, the name of your physician, as well as anyone else that was in the room, the name of the medical facility, what happened, what your doctor or hospital had to say about the incident, and your personal experience, including pain and suffering. The more details you can provide your attorney with, the more likely you will be able to receive fair compensation.
In addition to these important documents, records, and statements, include photographs of your injuries and copies of any correspondence with your insurance company to help prove your claim. When you meet with your Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer for the first time, they will be able to help you understand what information is helpful to have on hand. The law office you work with will conduct their own investigation and collection of your evidence on your behalf.
Contact (859-746-0500) Michael O’Hara, PLLC for a Consultation
About Michael A. O’Hara, PLLC
When you have to deal with the justice system – whether related to a civil or criminal matter – you need more than the truth on your side. You need a skilled attorney who can employ sound legal strategies to produce the results you are hoping for. I am attorney Michael A. O’Hara, and I am licensed to practice in Kentucky and Ohio at the state level, as well as in Federal District Court and the Federal Court of Claims. I have been representing clients in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area since 1994.