Did you know that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in Kentucky? The only things that kill more people are heart disease and cancer.
How does this happen? Doctors, nurses and other health care providers can make serious errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or during any phase of managing your care.
If the healthcare professional is negligent by providing treatment that falls below accepted standards of care, and causes harm to you, that’s medical malpractice.
You only have a certain amount of time to file your medical malpractice lawsuit in Kentucky. Let’s talk about what medical malpractice is and the statute of limitations.
What is the “Accepted Standard of Care?” for Medicine?
The medical standard of care is usually defined as: The level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances leading to the alleged malpractice.
What are the Most Common Medical Errors?
Fortunately, medical mistakes are relatively rare, but certain types of errors crop up more often than others.
The doctor and hospital mistakes that cause most medical malpractice lawsuits include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. These account for the largest percentage of medical malpractice complaints. If a doctor misdiagnoses a condition or fails to diagnose a serious disease in time, you might miss treatments that could have prevented serious harm or death.
- Negligent Prenatal Care & Childbirth Injuries. Negligent medical treatment provided during pregnancy can harm the mother or fetus or both. These include:
- Failure to diagnose a condition of the mother, like preeclampsia, Rh incompatibility, hypoglycemia, anemia or gestational diabetes
- Not identifying birth defects
- Failure to identify an ectopic pregnancy
- Failure to diagnose a disease that is contagious to the fetus, such as genital herpes or neonatal lupus.
- Failure to anticipate complications of birth, such as a baby’s large size or a tangled umbilical cord
- Not responding to signs of fetal distress
- Not ordering a cesarean section when it was needed
- Incompetent use of forceps or vacuum extractor
- Medication Errors. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in the United States alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error. Many think that these numbers are low and don’t accurately reflect how often medical errors lead to death.
- Anesthesia Errors. Even a small error can result in permanent injury, brain damage or death. There are many areas to make a mistake, including not investigating possible complications, not informing the patient of risk or giving too much anesthesia.
- Surgery Errors. Some medical malpractice claims come from mistakes made in the operating room. A surgeon might be negligent during the operation by puncturing internal organs, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments in the body, or the nursing staff might be negligent in administering post-op care.
How Long You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Suit in Kentucky
The statute of limitations in Kentucky to file a medical malpractice suit is within one year of when the injury was discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.
There are many considerations and these are fact specific determinations, but it is generally accepted that Kentucky operates with a “discovery rule” system requiring medical malpractice cases to be filed within one year of when the injury should have been discovered.
There are a few exceptions to the one-year limitation if: You have a “legal disability” at the time of the medical error, the clock starts ticking when the disability ends. Also, in Kentucky, you would be considered under a disability for being under 18 or of unsound mind. Finally, the statute typically doesn’t start to run until you are no longer under the care of the doctor that committed the negligent act.
Our advice, don’t wait – if you believe an act of malpractice occurred, see an experienced injury attorney immediately.
If this sounds complicated, it is. And it gets worse.
Expert Witnesses are Required
When you file a medical malpractice suit in Kentucky, you’ll likely need expert testimony to prove your case, unless the facts themselves establish a prima facie case of negligence. A prima facie case is one in which the injury could not have occurred absent negligence, like a surgeon leaving a foreign object in your body and that caused your injury.
If you file your Kentucky medical malpractice suit after the statute of limitations has passed, the healthcare provider will ask the court to dismiss the suit.
In medical malpractice cases, there are many moving parts and pitfalls. An expert personal injury attorney can navigate the system for you, hire expert witnesses and prepare your case for the medical review panel. Don’t risk further damaging your health or suffer needlessly. And don’t risk getting the compensation you deserve.
Trust McCoy & Sparks – Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Nelson County
Recognized as Nelson County’s best law firm for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results. Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draw upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions. You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 1-844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys today.