By: Emily Stringer
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What You Need To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical professional when they fail to perform their medical duties.
Each state has different medical malpractice laws and statues of limitations. You can learn more about Kentucky’s here. The basics of a medical malpractice lawsuit are almost always the same regardless of where the injury occurred. If you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice, here are a few considerations before you get started.
Prove the doctor-patient relationship
To successfully file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you first must prove your patient-doctor relationship as you can only file a malpractice lawsuit against a doctor who treated you. This is easy to prove with medical records.
The doctor was negligent
If you are unhappy with your results, you cannot file a suit for malpractice. This is usually in regard to cosmetic surgery. The doctor must have been negligent in your treatment or diagnosis. To sue, you must prove that the doctor harmed you in a way that a competent doctor would not have in a similar situation. Care and bedside manner of the doctor is not enough to file a suit as the care is not required to be the best, but must be “reasonably skillful and careful.”
The doctor’s lack of “skill” and “carefulness” is what can lead to a lawsuit. Almost all states require the patient filing the lawsuit to present their case to a panel of medical experts. The panel then discusses the medical standard of care and shows how the doctor did not uphold that standard.
Injury was caused by the doctor
Since medical malpractice cases involve sick or injured people, the cause of the injury or illness is often questioned. If a patient dies after fatal diagnoses or injury, and the doctor was negligent, it could be difficult to distinguish whether the negligence of the doctor or the fatal illness. In these cases, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor caused the injury.
Even if the doctor did not perform their medical duties properly, patients cannot sue if they did not suffer any harm. To move forward with the suit, the patient must have suffered harm as a result of the doctor’s malpractice.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Many situations can lead to a medical malpractice claim. When suing for malpractice, these are the most common types/causes:
- Failure to diagnose
If another doctor had correctly diagnosed the patient or made a different diagnosis, the malpractice might not have occurred. Improper or failure to diagnose which leads to an injury is a viable claim.
- Improper treatment
This is when a doctor treats the patient with incorrect medicine or in a way that a competent doctor would not. Improper treatment is also when a doctor treats a patient correctly and does not administer it completely.
- Not warning patient of risks
Doctors have a duty of informed consent and must warn patients of potential risks of a medical procedure or medication. If a patient is not warned of risks and goes through with a treatment or procedure, and are injured, they can sue for malpractice.