What To Do If You Suspect Medical Malpractice
Written by Cooper and Friedman on May 7, 2019
While having surgery always comes with it’s fair share of risks, and many illnesses share similar symptoms, we often look to our health care professionals to maintain a high standard of care when treating us. However, mistakes are made more often than we would like to realize. A misdiagnosis, an incorrect prescription or dosage, and a surgical or anesthesia error are among the most common medical malpractice cases.
According to a study out of Johns Hopkins University, medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in America. While not all instances of medical error end in a wrongful death case; many result in non-fatal injuries that cause pain and suffering, medical expenses, or the loss of wages and or one’s ability.
In order to effectively prove medical malpractice, it must be established that a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare professional caused injury, harm or death to a person either by negligence or omission. There must also have been a history of medical care or a relationship that established the healthcare professional’s legal duty to the patient to provide a high standard of care. An unfavorable outcome is not enough to show medical malpractice. The error made must have played a substantial factor in the harm done to the patient.
What should you do if you suspect medical malpractice?
1. Get a second opinion.
Your health is of the utmost importance, so if it is at all in question, it is recommended that you see another doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible. A second opinion will also help establish what should have occurred had there been no medical error.
2. Request medical records.
In order to make your case in court you’ll need to request your medical records. These records show your complete medical history including reported symptoms, tests performed, medication prescribed, visits to the hospital or doctor’s office, and help to establish a timeline of events. This should be done before filing to ensure all the original and accurate information is in tact.
3. Document the fallout.
In addition to your medical records, be sure to document any time taken off work as a result of the medical error, as well as medical expenses and pain and suffering. A paper trail of this nature will also be helpful in creating a timeline and illustrating cause and effect.
4. Seek the help of an experienced attorney.
Because physicians have vast resources at their disposal to help protect them from medical malpractice, one must consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who has a history of positive results. Medical malpractice cases are known to be complex and it’s important to know your rights.
For example, all medical malpractice cases must be filed within the statute of limitations in order to be heard by a court of law. Kentucky only hears medical malpractice cases if they are within a 1-year mark of the injury being discovered or when it should have reasonably been discovered.
Kentucky’s medical malpractice laws however, have recently changed. Prior to actions taken by the Kentucky Supreme Court, those who made medical malpractice claims were subjected to a medical review panel. This panel consisted of one attorney and three healthcare providers. The panel was tasked with reviewing medical records, hearing testimony, and evaluating evidence before issuing an opinion within 30 days. While the panel’s expert opinion was not considered conclusive, it was admissible in court.
However, the law was found in violation of the state’s constitution requiring that everyone has access to the courts without delay. Now medical malpractice cases are no longer handed off to a review panel.
5. Do not contact anyone related to the case.
When claiming medical malpractice, it’s imperative that you do not contact the healthcare provider, facility or their insurance representatives throughout the process. Instead, your experienced attorney will help guide your through the process and have your best interest at heart.
Damages vary from case to case. They can be both compensatory in nature (related to medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering) or punitive (meant to punish and prevent future mistakes). Either way, there is no current cap on medical malpractice damages to be received in Kentucky.
If you feel that you have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Cooper & Friedman today by calling 502-459-7555 or visiting our Contact Us page. Cooper and Friedman, Attorneys at Law, have over 45 years of combined experience in medical malpractice law. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars for victims of medical malpractice in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Contact us for a free case consultation.