Kentucky patients expect that their doctors and hospitals will treat them with care, competence, and respect. But sometimes, medical providers fail to do their jobs—and they end up hurting their patients more than helping them.
When this happens, it can lead to a lifetime of pain, health complications, and outrageous medical bills for the victim. If you believe you have been hurt by medical malpractice in Kentucky, you should understand what makes a winning case, how our courts work in Kentucky, and when you should contact an experienced malpractice attorney.
What is medical malpractice?
Simply put, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or lab technician, causes harm to a patient. It can happen when a professional actually doessomething that hurts a patient (like when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part) or fails to do something, which then leads to suffering (like when a technician misses a clear sign of cancer). These kinds of mistakes and errors are examples of medical negligence.
When a negligent medical professional fails to deliver the standard of care that other professionals would give their own patients in similar circumstances, and the mistake results in harm to the patient, it is likely a case of malpractice and you should contact an attorney with medical experience.
Do I have a case?
If you received medical treatment in Kentucky and the outcome wasn’t what you expected, it may not necessarily be a result of medical malpractice. Some undesirable outcomes are due to the risk factors involved with a certain procedure or treatment. For instance, if you undergo hip surgery and experience numbness afterward, this may just be one of the risks involved with the surgery.
In Kentucky, there are four basic elements of negligence that must be present to prove you were hurt because of medical malpractice:
- There was an established duty to the patient.
Once you have created a relationship with a doctor, his or her duty is then to treat you based on the standard of care that similar doctors would follow.Example: When a pregnant patient goes to the hospital to delivery her baby, she expects her doctor to carefully supervise the birthing process and intervene if any complications arise.
- Someone breached their duty to the patient.
When your doctor fails to provide you with proper care, he or she has not upheld their duty to you.Example: During a pregnant patient’s delivery, the baby begins to show clear signs of distress and needs an emergency C-section. Despite a duty to act on the emergency, the doctor fails to perform the procedure.
- The breach in duty caused direct injury.
The doctor’s failure to provide acceptable care must have directly injured you. This is often the most difficult piece to prove in a medical malpractice case because there are often a number of reasons why a patient might experience unexpected outcomes.Example: As a result of the doctor failing to perform a timely C-section, the baby develops a lifelong birth injury like cerebral palsy. In order for this to be a case a medical malpractice, there must be proof that the birth injury was a direct cause of the delayed C-section, not some other condition or circumstance.
- The injury must significantly impact quality of life.
The mistake or error may leave you unable to work and provide for your family, you may be faced with a lifetime of expensive medical treatments, or your life expectancy may be substantially shortened. The court will need clear evidence of these circumstances in order to figure out how much you may be owed.Example: A child with a birth injury like cerebral palsy will lead a difficult life. He will need expensive treatments to help overcome developmental delays or disabilities, he may miss out on a lifetime of work, and his lifespan may be significantly shorter. Clearly, the medical mistake will severely impact his wellbeing for a lifetime.
If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, we encourage you to contact an experienced attorney who can review your case. As both a physician and lawyer, Dr. Jack Tolliver has the medical and legal knowledge to personally review a client’s medical records to evaluate his or her case.