Thousands of Americans suffer from the consequences of medical malpractice every year. We have represented many clients in Kentucky and Tennessee whose lives have been impacted by the shortcomings of medical professionals.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider breaches the standard of medical care owed to the patient. The standard of care depends on the location and specialty of the medical provider.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Martin Makary from John’s Hopkins University, there are 250,000 deaths annually in the U.S. as a result of medical malpractice. In 1999, the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine estimated that medical errors accounted for 98,000 deaths annually. Dr. Makary’s recent estimate more than doubles that number and NASA toxicologist John James estimates that the number could be as high as 440,000 deaths per year.
Many deaths due to medical malpractice are not detected or reported. Death certificates require the input of a disease code as cause of death but Dr. Makary believes “people don’t just die from billing [or ICD] codes.”
A recent USA Today article placed medical malpractice as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., just behind heart disease and cancer. It concluded that “Death certificates in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and more than 100 other countries rely on what’s known as International Classification of Disease (ICD) code, so human and system errors can’t be recorded, according to the World Health Organization.”
How do I Know I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you have suffered injuries while under the care of a physician, a hospital or another medical provider, a free consultation with our medical malpractice attorneys can determine if you have a case. Our experienced attorneys can obtain your medical records, consult with experts and determine if medical practice occurred.
What Kinds Of Medical Malpractice Cases Does Hughes & Coleman Handle?
Medical malpractice can occur in different ways. Some of the commonly seen types of malpractice are:
A medical professional might make a mistake during a surgery such as operating on the wrong body part, puncturing an organ or blood vessel, or leaving surgical tools inside the patient.
If a condition is misdiagnosed, it could lead to medical treatment that would be inappropriate or harmful to the patient. It could also potentially lead to unnecessary progression of a disease left untreated.
Doctors, nurses and mid wives can directly or indirectly contribute to a baby’s injury if they do not strictly adhere to the high standards of care. Although most delivery complications occur for reasons other than medical errors, medical malpractice is responsible for devastating injuries to babies and mothers. For more information regarding birth injuries, please visit our birth injuries page.
Failure to diagnose
Failure to diagnose a condition can lead to a delay in treatment that may have halted further progression of the disease or condition. Often, cases involving failure to diagnose involve but are not limited to various forms of cancer, diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks.
The most common medication errors occur when a doctor prescribes the wrong dose of a medication. A doctor may also cause harm to a patient by prescribing the wrong medication, failing to notice a contraindication or medication allergy, or failing to notice a dangerous drug interaction. Pharmacists can also make errors in filing out the patient’s prescription.
Anesthesia errors often lead to devastating injuries. Even a slight miscalculation by an anesthesiologist, for example, can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Sadly, in some cases, the negligence of a medical provider can cause the patient’s death.
What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed for Medical Malpractice?
Damages in medical malpractice cases depend on the circumstance. Patients injured by a medical provider may be able to claim the following damages:
- Cost of past medical care
- Cost of future medical care
- Loss of income
- Loss of the ability to earn income in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
In some cases, a patient may be able to recover punitive damages if the conduct of the medical provider was grossly negligent or intentional.
Who is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice can occur in a variety of ways and liability can sometimes be shared by multiple parties. A hospital is typically liable for the actions performed by their employees, such as nurses, while on the job. A doctor may also be directly liable for negligence or error. However, doctors are not always employees of the hospital or the facility in which they work. Often, both doctor and hospital are liable for the malpractice. Our experience in medical malpractice combined with careful research into each individual situation will allow us to determine who should be held liable.
How Long do Medical Malpractice Cases Take?
The answer to this question depends upon the unique facts of each case. Most cases take more than one year. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average time between the occurrence of medical injury and the closing of a malpractice case was 5 years. A variety of factors have a bearing on the amount of time such a case may take including:
- the complexity of the medical issues involved;
- the complexity of the legal issues involved;
- whether a legal precedent for this type of case has been set;
- number of witnesses including expert medical witnesses;
- number of possibly responsible parties
Our firm can discuss the expected duration of your case and will keep you updated on the progress of your case throughout the entire process.
What Does A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?
A medical malpractice lawyer helps clients pursue damages from doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers for claims arising out of medical malpractice. In order to pursue a malpractice case, your attorney will likely obtain all medical records and depose the medical providers in your care under oath. Your attorney will consult with medical experts for information about the medicine and the standard of care. Experts will also be consulted to prove your damages, such as your future medical treatment and your economic losses because of the injuries sustained. Medical malpractice cases can be settled by agreement of the parties or a trial may be necessary. If the case is tried, jurors will hear the evidence and decide the case based on the law.
What Should I do If I Want to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case?
Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss the details of your potential case immediately. There is a strict time period in which you must pursue the case, referred to as a statute of limitations. The time limit is different in every state, but it is often only one year after the malpractice occurs.
Hughes and Coleman can help you determine if you have a case and what the statute of limitations is. Our team includes attorneys who have devoted most of their careers specifically to medical malpractice cases for clients in Kentucky and Tennessee. Let our knowledge and experience help you during this difficult time.