Medical Malpractice

What is the difference between medical malpractice and negligence?

In Kentucky, as in many other jurisdictions, the terms “medical malpractice” and “negligence” are closely related but are used in different contexts.

Negligence is a broader term that applies to many areas of law, not just medicine. It refers to a situation where a person (or entity) fails to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances, and this failure results in harm to another person. It’s the basis of many personal injury lawsuits, from car accidents to slip-and-fall cases.

Medical malpractice is a specific type of negligence. It refers to a situation where a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession, and this failure results in harm to a patient.

In other words, all medical malpractice cases involve negligence, but not all cases of negligence involve medical malpractice.

In a medical malpractice lawsuit in Kentucky, the plaintiff (the patient or the patient’s representative) has the burden to prove the following elements:

  1. Duty of care: The healthcare provider had a duty to provide care to the patient. This is generally established by the existence of a doctor-patient relationship.
  2. Breach of duty: The healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care. This often requires expert testimony to establish what the standard of care should have been and how the provider failed to meet it.
  3. Causation: The healthcare provider’s breach of duty directly caused harm to the patient. This often requires showing that the harm would not have occurred but for the provider’s actions or omissions.
  4. Damages: The patient suffered harm or damages as a result of the healthcare provider’s breach. These damages can be physical, emotional, and financial.

It’s important to note that Kentucky, like many states, has specific laws and procedural rules that apply to medical malpractice lawsuits. This includes a requirement to submit the claim to a medical review panel before filing a lawsuit in court. If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in this area of law in Kentucky.

What should I do if I experience medical malpractice or medical negligence?

If you believe that you have been a victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence, it can be an emotionally and physically distressing experience. Here are steps you should consider taking:

1. Seek Medical Attention: If your condition has worsened or you are still in harm’s way due to suspected negligence, it’s important to seek immediate medical care. Your health and safety should be your top priority. Consider going to another doctor or hospital for treatment.

2. Document Everything: Start a record of your medical treatment. Include dates, times, names of medical staff involved, medications prescribed, procedures performed, and any other relevant details. This documentation will be valuable if you decide to take legal action.

3. Request Your Medical Records: As a patient, you have the right to request a copy of your medical records. These records are crucial in a medical malpractice lawsuit as they document your medical condition and the treatment you received.

4. Keep Track of Expenses: Keep a detailed list of all expenses related to your medical care, including hospital bills, medication costs, fees for therapy or rehabilitation, costs related to transportation for medical visits, and any other related expenses.

5. Consult a Lawyer: Medical malpractice laws are complex and vary by state. It’s essential to speak with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case, explain your rights, and guide you on the best course of action.

6. File a Complaint: Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to file a complaint with the relevant medical board or health department in your state. Your lawyer can provide guidance on this.

7. Follow Statute of Limitations: Keep in mind that there is a deadline (known as the statute of limitations) for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Kentucky, for example, the statute of limitations is generally one year from the date the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered, but no more than five years from the date of the act or omission that caused the injury. There are exceptions, however, and an attorney can help you understand how these rules apply to your case.

Remember, every situation is unique, so it’s important to get legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Consulting a lawyer is a critical step in understanding your rights and determining whether you have a viable case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice Injuries