Undergoing medical and surgical procedures can be a stressful experience. If things do not go as planned, it can be even more devastating. When you go to a doctor or any medical professional, you expect them to take care of you. Unfortunately, for so many people, negligent medical treatment often results in undiagnosed conditions, misdiagnoses, surgical errors, injuries, and worsened conditions. If you or a loved one has been the victim of inadequate medical care, you should consult with an experienced Fayetteville medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
A severe injury caused by medical malpractice can change your life forever. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, understands the burden of suffering a severe injury due to a mistake of a doctor you trusted, and he is here to help you through your legal claim. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or other medical professionals who failed to treat you properly. Especially if you have lost a loved one to medical negligence, you may be able to recover large amounts of compensation. To talk to a medical malpractice attorney in Fayetteville, Arkansas, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438. You can also schedule your consultation while using our online submission form.
How Do You Know if You Have a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Fayetteville?
A medical malpractice claim is a type of lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, nurse, or any medical professional who failed to give you the proper level of care. It is important to understand that just because something went wrong, it is not automatically a case of negligence. Healthcare providers are not miracle workers and do what they can to help patients within the limits of medical science. Sometimes, complications are an expected part of medical care.
In order to prove medical malpractice, you must prove that the healthcare professional was negligent. To prove negligence in a malpractice case, you must prove four elements:
- The doctor owed you a duty;
- The doctor breached that duty;
- That breach caused your injuries or loss;
- You have injuries or losses that a court can compensate you for (called “damages”).
Before you can prove a doctor was negligent in caring for you, you must prove they had a duty to care for you, and what that duty was. This starts with showing a doctor-patient relationship existed. Sometimes doctors are joined in malpractice suits because they are part of the same practice, but if they never actually took the patient’s care upon themselves, you may not be able to sue them for negligence.
Breaching the Standard of Care
Proving the duty, and whether it was breached, requires proving what the “standard of care” is. The standard of care is the minimum, competent level of care that a doctor should give a patient under the circumstances. This is not a checklist of things that the doctor should do, but rather a full description of how the patient should be cared for, given what the doctor knew at the time of care. This is usually proved by having other doctors with the same qualifications as the defendant testify in court. These doctors, called “expert witnesses,” help explain what the doctor should have done, and how his care fell below the standard of care.
Proving Negligence and Causation in Medical Malpractice
To prove negligence, you must also prove that the doctor’s poor care actually caused your injuries. Many times, the defense the defendant doctor raises is that their negligence did not cause the harm, because the patient would have suffered harm anyway. For instance, in malpractice cases where a doctor gave poor cancer treatment, and a patient passed away, the doctor’s defense may be that the cancer was too advanced, and the patient would have died regardless of the negligence. An experienced Fayetteville medical malpractice attorney can call the proper experts and show the appropriate evidence to help prove causation in your malpractice suit.
Injuries and Worsened Condition
Finally, you need to prove what your injuries are. In cases of surgical errors, injuries may be obvious – severed nerves, ruptured blood vessels, or extra incisions. In other cases, the injuries may be less clear. In many cases, based on failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, the injury is the patient’s worsened condition. Proving an injury in a case like this requires the testimony of how the patient’s condition would have improved if the proper treatment started right away, versus what actually happened to the patient.
Common Causes of Medical Malpractice in Fayetteville
Physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals are responsible for the well-being of patients in Fayetteville. Most people involved in healthcare want to give their patients the best treatment possible. Unfortunately, serious mistakes occur, resulting in a patient experiencing a worsening condition, unforeseen complications, and even death.
Medical professionals are often overworked. Fatigue impairs both the mental judgment and physical capabilities of a tired healthcare worker. Furthermore, many situations, such as emergency rooms or surgical theaters, are a constant source of intense pressure. This type of environment results in some medical professionals making costly errors.
There is a difference between a justifiable mistake and medical malpractice. Part of understanding medical malpractice requires figuring out some of the common reasons it occurs.
Focus is critical when you are engaged in a complicated task or doing something that requires your full attention. When a doctor or other medical professional becomes distracted, they are liable to make an error. Some distractions could appear meaningless, such as a nurse asking a question about another patient when you are being examined. However, if your doctor losses focus and fails to ask a pertinent question or perform a necessary test because their train of thought was interrupted, a misdiagnosis could occur.
Distraction can result in medical malpractice in other ways. If a radiologist is not giving their full attention to interpreting an MRI’s results, they could miss a critical abnormality that appears on the image. Furthermore, if a nurse is distracted, they could administer the incorrect dosage or the wrong medication.
One of the most common causes of medical malpractice in Fayetteville is exhaustion. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are often overworked. Long shifts, especially overnight, will take a physical toll on any human being. Fatigue not only impacts a person’s physical skills, but it also affects their reasoning abilities. Any decrease in mental capacity could prove costly when a situation requires a quick and decisive decision.
Medical treatment, especially for serious conditions, usually involves many medical professionals working in their respective disciplines. You might have a family doctor with a medical assistant, a treating physician at the hospital, several nurses, medical technicians, and other healthcare provides all working together to provide the care you need. When communications break down between those individuals involved in your treatment, errors that constitute medical malpractice could happen.
For example, if a doctor instructs a nurse to administer a specific dosage or type of medication and the nurse misunderstands the directions, the patient could suffer. Likewise, it is critical for a radiologist to clearly report their findings to a treating physician. Burying an abnormality on an x-ray deep in a secondary report does not help the patient. It could also result in a medical malpractice claim against both the treating physician and radiologist.
Lack of Experience
Lack of experience could be a cause of medical malpractice. Despite the long years it takes to become a physician, there is still simply too much information to digest. A simple diagnosis could be complicated because a doctor needs to be aware of thousands of different symptoms and conditions. It is inconceivable that a physician will know everything. This is especially the case if your doctor is relatively new and has not experienced different situations.
While it is impossible to know everything, doctors and other medical professionals are not excused from errors because of a lack of knowledge. Part of what a medical professional needs to know is what they do not know. This means obtaining advice and counsel from other physicians and peers when confronted with something new or out of the ordinary. Just like a patient should often seek a second opinion, a medical professional should also seek additional expert opinions under certain circumstances.
Inadequate Oversight or Regulations
Many of the above problems could be remedied by regulations and oversight in a hospital setting. Hospitals and medical facilities could be held liable if their practices and procedures are insufficient, inadequate, or not properly followed. Physicians and other medical professionals should not necessarily be micro-managed, but having a system in place could prevent foreseeable errors. For example, a hospital should ensure that doctors and nurses, despite their necessary long hours, are receiving adequate rest periods. Furthermore, systems should be in place to safeguard that medication is dispensed correctly and that patients receive the level of care they require. Medical equipment should also be regularly inspected and repaired when necessary. If a mother is experiencing a difficult birth, the medical team on hand should not have to search for the equipment they need to ensure a safe delivery.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Fayetteville, AR?
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on time is one of the most important requirements to have your case heard by a judge and jury. If you fail to file your medical malpractice suit within the two-year deadline in Arkansas, you may not be able to recover compensation for your case. Arkansas’ “statute of limitations,” the law that decides the deadlines for filing an injury case, gives injured patients two years to file.
The start date for this two-year clock is more complicated, though. § 16-114-203 of the Arkansas Code says that the two-year deadline begins to run from the date your injury occurs. That means that even if you did not know you were harmed by malpractice, you have two years do discover the malpractice and file a lawsuit. Deciding this specific date may be difficult in cases where a doctor failed to diagnose an injury, so make sure to speak to an attorney about your deadline to file.
If you are injured by a foreign object left inside your body, and you were unable to discover the object was inside you, your deadline may be extended. This is Arkansas’ “discovery rule,” and extends your deadline to file as one year from the date you discover the foreign object. This only applies to foreign objects, though; while some states allow you to file within a few years of discovering any medical malpractice injury, Arkansas does not generally allow this.
If the patient is a minor under nine years old at the time of the injury, the deadline runs until the minor’s 11th birthday. This gives injured minors extra time to learn of their condition and appreciate the injury before suing. This is especially helpful in cases of birth injuries or other malpractice, where the child’s problems may not be discovered until they are much older. Additionally, people injured before they turn 11 years old are able to take advantage of a “discovery rule” extension. This means that if you do not discover the malpractice until after the child turns 11, and you could not have reasonably discovered the malpractice injury earlier, you have two years from the date of discovery of the injury – or until the child turns 19 years old (whichever is later). This only applies to people injured before they turn 11, though, and would not apply for adults.
Why States Use Statute of Limitations Laws
It may seem strange that medical malpractice cases are subject to laws like the statute of limitations. If an innocent victim is not aware that they only have a limited time to file their lawsuit, they could easily miss the filing deadline and lose the opportunity to file their case. However, there are many benefits to why every state uses statutes of limitations laws.
One primary reason for the statute of limitations is to ensure that a plaintiff is encouraged to pursue their case promptly. There are various issues that may arise when a plaintiff waits to file their case. For example, the plaintiff could lose access to valuable witnesses or other evidence.
Alternatively, the statute of limitations ensures that defendants will not have the challenge of defending against a case 5, 10, or even 15 years after the injury occurred, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Common Patient Injuries Our Fayetteville Medical Malpractice Law Firm Handles
There are various scenarios where a doctor could commit medical malpractice. Our firm has experience dealing with a wide range of medical malpractice claims, and we would be pleased to offer you the legal representation you need. The following are some types of medical malpractice injuries our firm can litigate for you.
When a woman’s date of delivery finally arrives, she hopes that she and her child will receive the care they deserve from a medical practitioner. However, there are many circumstances where a doctor may fail to uphold the standard of care. For example, if an infant suffers a brain injury during delivery, this may be evidence that a doctor used excessive force when attempting to pull a child from the birth canal.
As newborn babies are extremely fragile, it is vital for a doctor to exercise care when delivering a baby. If your doctor acted negligently and caused you or your child to sustain a serious injury during delivery, you should work with our experienced malpractice lawyer to pursue your Fayetteville birth injury lawsuit.
A surgical procedure should be taken seriously as there a number of ways that a person could be injured during a surgery. Unfortunately, there are many instances of surgical malpractice in Fayetteville that may leave a patient battling a serious injury.
One common surgical error is failing to extract a medical instrument from a patient before completing the surgery. A medical team should always have a list of instruments and other tools that will be used to perform a surgery. This list should be consulted before, during, and after the surgery to ensure that no foreign objects were left inside the patient. Unfortunately, some surgeons may overlook a foreign object inside a patient, which can cause infections or a number of other health complications.
There are many other types of surgical errors that could severely affect a patient. For example, if a surgeon performs an operation on the wrong limb, a patient will not discover the error until it is too late to fix.
Anesthesia is used to temporarily subdue a patient in order to perform an operation. In some cases, a patient may only need anesthesia to numb a certain area of the body. However, when anesthesia is not properly administrated, it can be highly dangerous for a patient.
In some cases, the excessive use of anesthesia could mean that a patient may have trouble breathing while unconscious. As a result, an anesthesiologist must intubate the patient to ensure their airway stays open during the procedure. However, if the tube is removed prematurely or placed incorrectly, it could cause a patient to suffer a loss of oxygen that could lead to brain damage.
The incorrect administration of anesthesia could also cause a person to experience paralysis in some regions of the body.
Many medical malpractice claims arise from the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition. When a doctor misreads a patient’s symptoms or test results, critical treatment could be delayed or a patient could undergo unnecessary treatment. In either situation, the physician is failing to treat the actual condition. If a patient’s condition worsens or if they succumb to their illness because of a misdiagnosis, the doctor’s conduct could constitute medical malpractice. Every poor outcome is not proof of malpractice. It is crucial to speak with an experienced Fayetteville medical malpractice attorney to determine if you have the grounds for a lawsuit.
Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals could be held liable for a mistake in prescribing or administering medication. In many cases, the doctor will be held accountable if the error occurs when the prescription is written. A nurse or hospital is typically held responsible when the mistake occurs when the medication is administered. In some situations, a medication error is related to a misdiagnosis. Other times, a communication breakdown could have resulted in a treating doctor not being aware of the medication a patient is currently taking. Medication is also dispensed through medical equipment. If this equipment is not calibrated correctly or defective, then the medication dosage could be inaccurate.
There are various other types of medical negligence claims that our firm can handle for you. If you were injured under any of the above circumstances or under other circumstances, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced Fayetteville medical malpractice lawyer.
Contact Fayetteville, AR Medical Malpractice Attorney Ken Kieklak for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor’s poor healthcare, you might be entitled to compensation. Medical negligence attorney Ken Kieklak possesses over two decades of legal experience fighting for victims of medical malpractice, and he would be pleased to work with you on your potential case. For a free consultation to discuss the details of your case with our medical malpractice attorney, call Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438. Because your case may have important deadlines attached, do not delay.