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Understanding the Key Point to Prove After a Medical Malpractice Injury

Medical Malpractice Key Point

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has filed a complaint against a physician who was found liable for the death of a baby boy earlier this year, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the osteopath, John P. Short, improperly placed an endotracheal tube in the infant and failed to monitor him properly, which led to his suffocation and death. In May, a jury found that the physician failed to exercise the proper caution expected of a medical professional in his position.

The jury’s decision centered on a key point that must be proven in any medical malpractice claim: the standard of care. Put simply, the standard of care refers to how well a medical practitioner’s actions meet up with what similar professionals would have done under the same circumstances. If other health care providers would provide the same type of care, then it is possible that a doctor has met the reasonable standard of care. If not, then he may be held responsible for a bad outcome.

What An Injured Patient Needs to Prove

Medical malpractice cases are difficult to litigate. Most cases hinge on the legal concept called negligence. To prevail in a negligence claim, an injured patient must be able to prove several elements:

  1. The health care provider owed a duty of care to the patient. That means that the professional had an established relationship with the patient and should be expected to provide treatment consistent with what his or her peers would have done in the same situation.
  2.  The duty of care was breached.
  3. An injury occurred as a direct result of that breach.

Although the three-part definition of negligence may sound simple, it is hardly so. Just because other doctors say they would have done something differently doesn’t necessarily prove that your doctor was negligent. In addition, not all medical mistakes are obvious. Leaving a scalpel in a patient after surgery is easily apparent, but sometimes damage may not be evident until months or even years after the alleged malpractice took place. Convincing a jury that your health care provider is responsible for your injuries will require compelling testimony from medical experts and additional evidence from medical records, including x-rays, MRIs or other types of tests.

Most Medical Malpractice Cases Must Be Filed Within A Year

In Kentucky, most cases of medical malpractice must be filed within one year from the date of the injury. There are a few exceptions to this statute of limitations, but it is best to speak with a malpractice attorney to determine if your case fits the criteria.

Here’s the truth. Proceeding with a medical malpractice case is a long, hard, expensive road. Be prepared to have your personal information aired in court, and for defense attorneys to attack your character and paint you as money-hungry and bitter. That is a common defense strategy because of the widespread belief among jurors that many people file frivolous medical malpractice claims and that it is the doctor, not the patient, who is actually being harmed.

None of this means you should avoid seeking legal advice if you believe that you are a victim of medical negligence. A successful medical malpractice claim may entitle you to compensation (called damages) that may not erase the long-term effects of your injuries, but could at least help you obtain the money you need to prepare for the future, which can be especially uncertain in cases involving medical errors.