Medical negligence can result in serious injuries and even death. What qualifies as negligence? It could be an error such as using latex gloves even though the patient disclosed an allergy to latex. Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis a serious disease or illness is another type of medical malpractice that can limit treatment options and significantly reduce life expectancy.
In a medical malpractice case, it is generally necessary to prove four things:
- Duty of care – that a doctor or nurse owed a patient a duty of care. The exact nature of this duty may vary based on a specialty or the size and location of the clinic.
- Breach – It is necessary to explain just how a healthcare provider breached this duty. For instance, did a doctor fail to correctly read a mammogram?
- Causation – The breach needs to be the proximate cause of an injury.
- Injury – There must be a connection between the alleged negligent act and the injury.
Usually, in a medical malpractice claim, an expert will need to explain what the healthcare provider did wrong. The expert testimony must also establish that the negligent act most likely caused the injury.
An example of negligent conduct
Negligence in the treatment and delivery of infants is especially serious. In one Kentucky case, parents of a two-month old baby brought their child to the emergency room when the child started wheezing, coughing, and had difficulty breathing. The emergency doctor decided that intubation would help the infant’s breathing. The doctor left the room after performing the procedure and no one monitored the child to make sure the infant was breathing through the tube. The child suffocated while waiting for transportation to a larger hospital.
The parents alleged that the physician did not perform the procedure correctly and the clinic failed to provide adequate supervision of the doctor. The defendants in the case argued the infant died from an enlarged heart and any error in the placement of the tube was not the cause of death.
After a trial, the jury found that the doctor and clinic’s negligence were the cause of the death. The jury awarded approximately $6 million in damages for funeral expenses, past medical bills, pain suffered, and loss of companionship and affection.
Statute of limitations
In Kentucky, the time to file a claim for medical malpractice is very limited. State statute requires a plaintiff bring a claim for negligence against a doctor, dentist, or hospital within one year.
The one year time limit starts at the point that the “cause of action accrued.” What does this mean? For a person injured during a surgery who has immediate complications, it is easy to determine the starting date for the limitations period. For something like a misdiagnosis, it is much harder to establish when the limitations period begins. It will usually comes down to when the person knew or should have known about the misdiagnosis.
When a case is filed too late, the court may dismiss the case before it can get to trial. A summary judgment motion filed by the defendant can effectively deny the victim a remedy. For this reason, it is very important to immediately speak with a medical malpractice attorney if there is any indication that medical negligence caused a serious injury or death. Gladstein Law Firm has experience with medical malpractice cases. For committed and experienced assistance, contact Seth Gladstein today by calling or using the contact form.