Lakewood Ranch Medical Malpractice
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers swear an oath to “do no harm” and to treat all patients with the same level of care. Unfortunately, medical personnel often fall short of this norm, which can lead to malpractice and incompetence that seriously injure patients. In truth, medical malpractice injuries are disturbingly frequent and pervasive in the United States, resulting in an estimated 225,000 fatalities annually. Medical malpractice trials are extremely technical and sophisticated, and they frequently call for expert testimony from other healthcare professionals with experience in a related subject as well as a thorough knowledge of medical practices. Additionally, rules and timeframes differ from county to county, which is why it’s critical to seek assistance from a legal expert in Lakewood Ranch.
If you were injured by a negligent or careless doctor, or if a loved one passed away after receiving substandard medical care, your family deserves a closer investigation into the matter. The Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Hale Law have on staff a physician to review medical malpractice and wrongful death matters. To start exploring your legal options in a free and confidential case evaluation, call our law offices right away at 941.735.4529
WHAT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE? DO I HAVE A CASE?
Needless to say, it’s important for claimants to understand how medical malpractice is defined from a legal standpoint.
Malpractice does not mean having pain or a negative outcome following a procedure which was performed appropriately in accordance with all normal industry standards. While having a bad outcome can be an immensely upsetting and frustrating experience, it cannot legally be considered malpractice if the doctor (or other healthcare professional) did not actually make any errors or mistakes.
In order for an incident to be successfully deemed true malpractice, there are several elements which must be in place:
- There must be a formal patient-doctor relationship established between the plaintiff and the defendant. – This creates a formal “duty of care” from the doctor to the patient. (Note that taking casual advice does not constitute a formal patient-doctor relationship.)
- The doctor must breach his or her duty of care to the patient by acting negligently. – In a legal context, negligence means that the party at fault failed to live up to the normal standard of care that a reasonable person would expect under the same set of circumstances. In other words, if one doctor makes an avoidable error which any other reasonable doctor would have noticed and corrected – such as failing to sterilize tools, or to ask the patient about other medications they were taking – the doctor who made the error may be considered negligent.
- The doctor’s negligence must have caused an injury to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff’s injury, caused by the negligent doctor, must have led to damages.
Depending on the specific details involved in a claim, a plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for damages such as hospital bills, lost income, and physical pain and suffering.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON EXAMPLES OF DOCTOR NEGLIGENCE AND MALPRACTICE?
Malpractice can manifest in many different ways, depending on factors like the patient’s health and the type of doctor or procedure involved. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some relatively common forms of medical and hospital negligence:
- Failure to monitor a patient’s oxygen levels while he or she is sedated. If a sedated patient is not closely monitored by a qualified anesthetist or anesthesiologist and an error occurs, he or she can aspirate vomit and can suffer brain damage, coma, and death.
- Failure to notice and diagnose, or misdiagnosing an apparent early-stage disease.
- Failure to count all tools used during a surgical procedure. When items are forgotten and are left behind inside of patients’ bodies, it is referred to as surgical object retention or a surgical error. Whether a forgotten object is a soft pad of gauze or a sharp pair of scissors, the end result can be blockage, organ damage, internal bleeding, or death.
- Practicing in a field for which the doctor is not actually licensed or qualified.
- Improperly sterilizing tools and equipment, including failure to wash hands and take other hygienic measures prior to an operation or examination.
- Incorrectly filling out a prescription, or making a medication error that results in death or injury to the patient.
- Failing to obtain a patient’s medical history and information regarding food, drug, and alcohol use. This can lead to deadly drug interactions and avoidable complications which should have been foreseen.
- Permitting unnecessary and dangerous delays in treatment, such as waiting too long to address a known infection or illness.
- In pregnancy-related cases, causing a birth injury to the baby and/or mother, such as accidentally cutting the baby with a surgical tool during a C-Section delivery.
- Physically or sexually assaulting a patient, or otherwise engaging in sexual contact, abuse, or harassment.
If any of these issues have affected you or a loved one, you should contact our medical malpractice attorneys immediately as you may be able to receive financial compensation for your suffering and your losses.
STANDARD OF CARE
All medical professionals in the State of Florida must follow a reasonable “Standard of Care.” This means that regardless of where the doctor is located, they must give the same level of care given to any other patient under similar circumstances. For instance, a doctor in Miami must give the same standard of care that a doctor in Tampa provides his/her patients for a similar procedure. If an individual feels as if they are not given a reasonable standard of care that has resulted in injury or unnecessary suffering, they may have grounds for a malpractice suit. This is specifically defined under Florida Statute 766.101, which states that:
“The prevailing professional standard of care is that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar healthcare providers.”
As an example, if a patient were to come into the Emergency Room complaining of lower right abdominal pain, the prevailing reasonable standard of care would be to press on the abdomen to check for rebound pain. Afterwards, the doctor would order blood work to check the white cell count, and a CT scan, Ultrasound, or X-ray. This would be considered the proper way to rule out appendicitis or other lower abdominal issues and fall under a reasonable standard of care.
However, imagine in the same scenario another doctor that simply tells the patient, “it’s probably just gas pains, you’ll feel better in a few hours.” Then, the doctor sends the 20 year old home without running diagnostic tests and the patient’s appendix ruptures, placing them in a life threatening situation from the resulting infection. In this alternative situation, because the second doctor did not provide what would be considered a reasonable standard of care, they may be sued for malpractice.
MEDICAL DEVICE INJURY
If your injury was caused by a surgically implanted medical device such as a metal hip replacement or IVC filter, you may be entitled to compensation from the device manufacturer. Certain devices have been shown to carry an unnecessary high risk of injury in patients. As a result, manufacturers of these products are facing mass litigation by affected individuals.
Di Pietro Partners is pursuing cases against certain manufacturers of defective medical products. You can read more about the individual products and manufacturers our Law Firm is pursuing cases against within the link below.
List of defective medical devices.
It’s important to note, if you were injured by one of these products anywhere in the United States, we may be able to take your case and ensure you receive compensation.
FLORIDA MALPRACTICE ACT & STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Florida’s series of complex Medical Malpractice Laws can be difficult to navigate and understand. The Florida Malpractice Act places the burden of proof upon the plaintiff to prove a medical professional was in fact negligent. In order to do this, another medical professional from the same field will be needed to testify for you. Additionally, causation must be proved, meaning that there must be proof that the medical professional’s actions or failure to act was the cause for your injuries.
On top of this, the State of Florida has a statute of limitations on malpractice cases. According to the medical malpractice statute in The Florida Legislature: (2018)
“An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence; however, in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident or occurrence out of which the cause of action accrued, except that this 4-year period shall not bar an action brought on behalf of a minor on or before the child’s eighth birthday…” (Section 95.11 7b)
In other words, in many cases, there is a 2-4 year statute of limitations on malpractice claims in Florida with several exceptions (i.e. a minor child was involved). Furthermore, cases involving fraud, intentional misrepresentation, or concealment carry a 7 year maximum limit on filing a claim. As a result, it’s imperative to have your case reviewed by our legal and medical professionals as soon as possible.