Can I sue a doctor in Kentucky if a loved one’s surgery led to death?

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Answered by: Scott Powell

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If you have ever been in the hospital or had surgery, you feel vulnerable. Whenever you are in the hospital, you place your faith in the doctor, the nurses and the hospital. You depend on the medical staff to provide the best care possible. Everything, including your life, depends on the attention you get from the medical staff. When you are hurt or a loved one dies because of medical malpractice, you feel betrayed.

If a loved one died after a surgery in Kentucky, you have the right to sue. These deaths often happen as a direct result of the medical staff’s negligence. Maybe they did not do what was required or did not provide proper care. There might have been miscommunication, or the hospital might have been understaffed.

You have one year from the time you knew (or should have known) about the medical malpractice that caused the injury or death to file your lawsuit. There is also a law, introduced in 2017, that makes it more difficult for medical malpractice victims to succeed. These cases must be evaluated by a medical review panel. The panel reviews the facts of the case and decides if the suit can go to court. If your loved one died, you should hire a medical malpractice attorney immediately for help.

The three leading causes of death in America, in order of the number of people who die from them each year, are heart disease, cancer and medical malpractice. Depending on which study you believe, anywhere from about 250,000 to more than 450,000 people die because of medical malpractice each year.

There is debate between medical professionals and the groups that conducted the studies about the validity of those statistics. Doctors and hospitals say those numbers are too high. However, one thing is certain. If even one person dies (and that person is your family member), that is one death is too many.

According to the World Health Organization, one in every 10 patients is hurt while receiving hospital care. Nearly half of the injuries are preventable. They can stop many of them by simply following the rules and regulations and doing what is required.

The four d’s of Medical Malpractice

The facts of your medical malpractice claim will depend on the four D’s. Understanding them could make a difference if you and your personal injury lawyer can prove that the doctor, nurses or hospital was negligent in the care they provided.

They include:

  • Duty: It is the medical staff’s professional responsibility to provide proper care. They have strict rules to follow, and they are expected to treat patient’s competently.
  • Dereliction: Did your doctor violate their professional responsibility and expectations? Maybe the doctor amputated the wrong limb or removed an additional organ during surgery. They might have caused an infection because the surgery area was not properly sterilized.
  • Direct cause: The medical staff caused the injuries or death. That could include misdiagnosis or administering the wrong drugs.
  • Damages: This is the financial loss that is directly caused by the medical staff. It could have caused the patient’s emotional, financial, mental or physical problems.

Medical malpractice could include:

  • Misdiagnosis/failure to diagnose
  • Discharge that was too soon
  • Unnecessary or incorrect surgery
  • The correct tests were not prescribed
  • They had results that indicated the problem, but did not act
  • Lack of follow-up
  • Wrong prescriptions
  • The wrong body part was operated on
  • Something was left in the patient after the surgery
  • The surgery did not correct the problem and led to ongoing pain
  • Bedsores

What is the difference between Loss of Consortium and wrongful death claims?

If you depended on the person who died for their services, assistance, aid, or a marital relationship, that is loss of consortium. Kentucky law provides for recovery of this if someone’s negligence (including doctors, nurses or a hospital’s staff) resulted in death.

These claims are not part of a wrongful death claim and should not be used to recover financial support (that is part of a wrongful death claim). You can file both wrongful death and loss of consortium claims.

A wrongful death claim could help you recover:

  • Medical bills from before the death
  • Funeral expenses
  • Financial support
  • Loss of future services that would have been provided by the victim
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of care, companionship and support
  • Punitive damages if there was gross negligence or malicious misconduct

medical malpractice cases require appropriate legal counsel

It is not always easy to determine who is at fault in medical malpractice cases. Records must be carefully analyzed, and you will need experts and a competent legal team helping you.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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