What is Medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider treats a patient in a manner that deviates from the medical standard or care, and the patient suffers harm as a result.
What is the medical standard of care?
The issue with many medical malpractice claims is determining what the standard of care is. It is defined as the level of care that a reasonably competent health care professional in the same field would have provided. This definition leaves room for interpretation which usually takes an expert medical witness to testify to the standard of care.
Are there different types of medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice claims can fall into a few common categories.
- Mistakes in treatment
A surgeon operating on the wrong leg is an obvious mistake but some missteps aren’t as clear to the average person. For this reason, testimony from an expert witness is usually needed.
- Improper diagnoses
If a patient dies from a disease that was improperly diagnosed, but the patient would have died just as quickly with a proper diagnosis, the doctor will likely not be liable for malpractice. Alternatively, the doctor may be liable if a proper diagnosis could have extended the patient’s life.
- Lack of informed consent
Medical professionals must disclose all relevant facts in order for the patient to make an informed decision on what treatment they will receive.
- Treatment against patient’s wishes
The patient has a right to deny care, even if it’s not in their best interest. If a doctor proceeds with treatment without consent, they may be liable for malpractice, regardless of the outcome of treatment.
Medical malpractice law assumes that patients in emergency situations who are incapable of providing informed consent would consent to life-saving treatment if they were able to do so. Therefore, patients who receive treatment in emergency situations generally cannot sue their doctors for failure to obtain informed consent.
How is a claim filed?
While there are some cases that can be handled without a professional assistance, medical malpractice can be more complicated. Malpractice cases generally require expert witnesses in addition to medical records and the opinion of a medical review panel.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney has the know how to properly investigate and prepare the claim. Kentucky has a statute of limitations where a claim must be filed within one year of the date on which the injury should reasonable been discovered.