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What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional fails to provide a patient with a certain standard of care.

Below, our Louisville personal injury attorneys discuss forms of medical malpractice and the serious injuries that may result.

Forms of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs whenever a medical practitioner makes a mistake that another similarly qualified professional would not. As such, there are a variety of errors that may be considered medical malpractice.

Delayed Diagnosis

Many medical malpractice claims result from a delayed diagnosis. A delayed diagnosis occurs when a doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient properly leads to the patient’s delayed treatment or no treatment at all. This can result in a worse prognosis for the patient or even their death.

Doctors have a responsibility to listen to patients’ descriptions of their symptoms and take their concerns seriously. They must explore all avenues that may explain why the patient is experiencing their symptoms.

When a doctor dismisses a patient’s concerns or does not order the appropriate tests to address their symptoms, the doctor may be held responsible for any preventable illnesses or injuries that result from this negligence.

Birth Injuries

A birth injury involves harm to a baby before, during, or immediately after birth. Doctors are required to identify potential problems during a woman’s pregnancy or delivery and respond to them appropriately.

During a woman’s pregnancy, her doctor must prescribe the appropriate medications to ensure her health and that of her baby. During a woman’s labor and delivery process, her doctor must monitor the baby for signs of fetal distress and take action to mitigate the issue.

When doctors fail in this duty, it may qualify as medical malpractice.

Surgical and Anesthesia Errors

While all surgical procedures come with certain risks, doctors are expected to use their years of education and training to resolve issues when they arise.

Surgical errors can lead to complications, infections, disfigurement, and even death. Examples of surgical and anesthesia errors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Unnecessary surgery

  • Instruments and devices left in the patient

  • Removal of the wrong organ

  • Amputation of the wrong limb

  • Severed arteries

  • Oversedation of an anesthetic

Medication Errors

Medication errors are a common form of medical malpractice. From the wrong type of medication to the wrong dose, patients often receive an erroneous prescription that later causes them harm.

Examples of medication errors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ordering the wrong drug dosage

  • Incorrectly administering a dosage

  • Misidentifying the appropriate drug

  • Causing an allergic reaction due to drug interactions

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

In order to prove medical malpractice, you and an experienced personal injury attorney must demonstrate what’s known as the “four D’s of medical malpractice.” These include the following:

  • Duty: The doctor had a duty of care to the patient.

  • Dereliction: The doctor failed to uphold the duty of care.

  • Damages: The patient was injured.

  • Direct cause: The doctor’s failure to uphold the standard of care directly led to the patient’s injury.

Due to this required burden of proof, it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect your rights while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

Large hospitals and insurance companies have near-limitless resources at their disposal, so trying to take on these entities by yourself if never a good idea.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

When filing a medical malpractice claim, you and your attorney will take the following steps:

  • Gather copies of your medical records. Your attorney will analyze your medical records and may solicit opinions from other medical professionals.

  • Notify medical providers and insurers. Some states require you to complete this step before you can file a lawsuit. You may find that the hospital and insurance company will offer you a settlement during this step. It’s up to you and your attorney to determine whether the offer is acceptable.

  • File the complaint. If the hospital and insurance company’s offer is unacceptable, you and your attorney will file the claim, which includes formal allegations against the negligent medical practitioners. At this point, the lawsuit will begin.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

As with most personal injury claims, you only have a certain amount of time to file a medical malpractice claim. This timeline varies from state to state. In Kentucky, you have one year from the date the malpractice occurred to file a claim.

There are a few exceptions to this timeline. For example, if the malpractice resulted in the patient’s death, the decedent’s family may have up to two years to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party.

Harmed by Medical Malpractice? We’re Here to Help

If you or someone you love has been harmed by a medical provider who should have known better, our Louisville personal injury attorneys are here to help.

Big cases require big resources, and we have the experience and financial resources needed to take on large hospitals and insurance companies. At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, we take on a small number of cases so each client receives the individualized attention they deserve.

Contact us today at (502) 242-8872 to learn how we may assist you.