A Kentucky Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help Recover Damages
Medical malpractice is a difficult claim for many victims to bring due to the respect we have for our medical professionals. However, if you or a loved one have suffered injury or even death due to medical malpractice, a Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer from Erdmann & Stumbo, PLLC, can help.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can occur in various ways, some of which are harder to recognize than others, especially when medical personnel attempt to hide their mistakes or when symptoms do not appear for days, weeks, or even months.
Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice include:
- Surgical Errors. There are many stories about surgeons operating on the wrong patient, the wrong limb, or leaving medical debris like sponges inside patients. These types of mistakes actually do happen. Other surgical errors include failing to provide proper post-surgical care or unsanitary conditions that cause serious infections.
- Failure to Prevent Infections. As mentioned above, infections are exceptionally dangerous if not promptly and properly treated. Hospital patients develop infections that can quickly become life-threatening at an alarming rate. Additionally, many modern infections are resistant to traditional antibiotics.
- Failure to Diagnose. One of the most frequent forms of malpractice is the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a serious condition that can cause serious harm. When a medical professional misdiagnoses a serious illness or diseases such as a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or cancer, the consequences can be fatal. This type of medical malpractice is particularly difficult to prove, as medical personnel is typically reluctant to support claims of misdiagnoses among their colleagues.
- Birth Injuries. Birth injuries may result when a doctor or other medical personnel makes an error during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Cerebral palsy is the most common type of birth injury, which may result when a newborn is deprived of oxygen during the birth process. Other mistakes that may cause birth injuries are failure to perform a necessary C-section or improper monitoring and misreads of pre-birth ultrasounds.
- Medication Errors. Another common malpractice claim involves errors in prescribing proper medication, such as the wrong drug or the wrong dosage. Additionally, a pharmacist may misread a prescription and provide the wrong medication to the patient.
- Anesthesia Mistakes. There is a good reason anesthesiologists are required to obtain medical doctor-type training. If an anesthesiologist makes a mistake, it can cause brain damage, permanent injury, or death. Many anesthesiology mistakes stem from a failure to review patient medical history or improperly monitoring vital signs.
Common Mistakes Made in Hospitals Explained by a Kentucky Medical Malpractice Lawyer
According to a Johns Hopkins study, hospital mistakes that often lead to medical malpractice claims result in about 250,000 deaths per year. Mistakes can happen in even the best hospitals in the country and are particularly frightening for patients, who are simply unable to look out for themselves in the hospital environment.
The best option for patients is to be aware of what types of mistakes are made most often so patients or family members may be able to look out for themselves more adequately. Some of these common mistakes include:
- Infection. As discussed above, hospital infections are always a risk and can quickly become severe and deadly, even though most are relatively minor and treatable.
- Falls. About a million people fall in hospitals each year, and roughly a third of those falls are preventable. Let the staff know if you have any conditions that may make you susceptible to falls, such as medications or general difficulty walking.
- Misuse of Antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics are unnecessarily or incorrectly prescribed up to 50% of the time. Ensure you understand why you’re prescribed antibiotics, and take them carefully and exactly as directed.
- Drug Errors. Hundreds of preventable medication errors happen in hospitals each day, typically when a patient is prescribed incorrect dosages. Be sure you know the exact name of all drugs you’re taking, why you’re taking them, and how to take them properly. Keep a list of all medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter supplements and vitamins, helping avoid unintended interactions.
Elements of a Kentucky Medical Malpractice Claim
The U.S. legal system is designed to encourage discovery and negotiations between the parties in a medical malpractice claim in the hope of resolving the claim without going to trial. The alleged injured patient must show the medical personnel acted negligently in providing care and that such negligence resulted in injury.
As a result, a claimant must show the following four elements:
- A professional duty was owed to the claimant,
- A breach of that duty; i.e., treatment, that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community,
- Injury caused by such breach, and
- Resulting damages.
Money damages, if awarded, typically take into account both actual economic loss and noneconomic loss, such as pain and suffering. So-called “Good Samaritan” laws often protect people who unsuccessfully attempt to render emergency aid to an injured person.
Determining if You Have a Medical Malpractice Case in Kentucky
Medical malpractice can be complicated to prove since medical professionals tend to clam up when confronted with questions about mistakes their colleagues may have made, presumably because they expect the same cooperation if they are ever accused of malpractice.
Medical personnel who testify against their colleagues often find themselves ostracized to the point of feeling they need to find employment at another facility, where their history may or may not follow them. Nonetheless, there are a few signs that indicate you may have a valid medical malpractice claim, including:
- Lack of Informed Consent. Most medical procedures come along with a certain amount of risk and possible complications. Medical personnel should thoroughly explain the risks and benefits of any medical procedure before such procedure is actually performed, so the patient knows exactly what to expect. Lack of informed consent is shown when a doctor performs a procedure the patient did not agree to or fails to explain the risks and benefits of the procedure sufficiently.
- A Healthcare Provider Informs You a Mistake was Made. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has developed a program called CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution) as a way for hospitals and healthcare providers to address medical errors. CANDOR recommends honesty with patients and/or their families when a medical error has occurred, an apology for any such mistakes, voluntary compensation for these mistakes, conducting an investigation regarding the cause of the mistake, and updating patients regarding the progress of the investigation. Although these principles are certainly commendable, CANDOR hasn’t caught on with all healthcare providers, many of whom prefer to simply avoid the issue altogether.
- Extraordinary Consequences. Medical personnel must explain the risks and benefits of treatment reasonably foreseeable but have no obligation to describe highly unusual risks. When a patient does experience a highly unusual outcome after treatment, that may be a sign a mistake occurred.
Medical Malpractice Leading to Wrongful Death
When a medical professional’s malpractice leads to a patient’s death, this may give rise to a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
The personal representative makes a claim on behalf of various survivors, which can include the spouse, children, parents, or other relatives depending upon the particular circumstances of each case. Proving medical malpractice is very similar to proving personal injury negligence, except the consequences are the loss of a loved one rather than a personal injury.
Essentially, you must show that more likely than not, the medical personnel committed the malpractice, that the malpractice was a significant factor in causing injury or death, and that there was damage. If you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, a Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer at Erdmann & Stumbo, PLLC, can help.
A Kentucky Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help Families Wronged by Medical Institutions and Professionals
If you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you find yourself in a difficult position. We are all taught to respect and trust the medical profession and its practitioners. Nonetheless, medical professionals are still only human, and mistakes are made, often as the result of near-impossible schedules and the weariness that comes with working 12-18 hour shifts, along with the constant changes due to the advancement of medical procedures which seem to change nearly every day.
Nonetheless, none of this is your fault, and you deserve to be compensated for your loss. We can help you recover all of the damages you are entitled to so you can focus on your recovery and grieving process. Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced attorneys.