What is medical malpractice?

Medical care can eliminate or mitigate illness. However, medical malpractice can cause serious harm or even lead to death. Kentucky law provides for wrongful death lawsuits to seek compensation for a fatal medical error.

Malpractice is when a heath care professional or facility failed to provide appropriate treatment, did not take an appropriate action or gave care to a patient that fell below the reasonable standard of care. There are between 15,000 and 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits against physicians in this country each year, according to Medical Malpractice Center.

Generally, there are four elements to a malpractice case. The practitioner must owe a duty of care to a patient. The practitioner must have violated that duty and that violation caused injury to the patient. The injury must have then led to considerable physical, emotional or financial damages to the victim.

Damages may include suffering, long-lasting hardship, ongoing pain, substantial income loss and disability. Plaintiffs may be awarded compensatory damages to cover wage losses and life and medical care expenses. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded as punishment for malicious or willful conduct.

Some typical types of malpractice include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, improper surgery, failure to order or act on appropriate tests, prescribing the wrong medication or incorrect diagnosis, leaving items in a patient's body, operating on or amputating the wrong body parts, serious infections and allowing pressure ulcers or bedsores.

Other incidents have included fires in medical facilities and patients committing suicide while under medical care. If a practitioner does not obtain informed consent for a procedure, there may be liability for any injury even if the procedure was performed correctly.

A lawyer can help victims obtain evidence of malpractice. Legal representation may help them pursue compensation through a lawsuit.

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