Medical professionals are expected to have a certain level of expertise and standard of care when treating and caring for a loved one. However, if this standard of care is not provided your loved one can be seriously harmed by the negligence or carelessness of the doctor, nurse, or other medical professionals in Florida. It is imperative to speak to an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer. Retaining an experienced medical malpractice attorney like the attorneys at the Ledezma Law Firm will give you the resources to take on a big malpractice insurance lawyer.
Understanding What Constitutes Medical Malpractice
There are various ways medical malpractice can be committed. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a doctor or nurse makes a mistake does not mean they are liable for malpractice. The legal standard that must be met is establishing that a breach of the standard of care occurred. We will explore this legal standard further on in this article. But before we get into legal standards, let’s go over some broad areas where medical malpractice routinely occurs:
Administering Improper Amount of Anesthesia
When you receive surgery, anesthesia will likely be given. This is a substance which will put you unconscious during the surgery. Unfortunately, malpractice can occur during the negligent administration of anesthesia resulting in anesthesia awareness. This is when you literally awake during your surgical procedure and can feel the incisions made by the surgeon. This can be an emotionally disturbing and terribly painful experience. The improper administration of anesthesia can be grounds for medical malpractice since the surgeon and their staff are under a duty to ensure that you are unconscious during an invasive procedure.
Preventable Injuries That Occur While Admitted in a Florida Hospital
Hospitals have a duty to ensure the safety and adequate care of admitted patients. This means they must thoroughly evaluate prospective employees including their prior experience in a hospital environment, any relevant certifications and their most advanced level of education. If a hospital hires an incompetent or unqualified doctor, nurse, or other staffer, the hospital can be held responsible for the harms inflicted on patients due to an employee’s negligence.
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Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis is Grounds for Medical Malpractice
When you go to see a physician, you expect a complete and thorough evaluation and to provide an accurate diagnosis of any serious medical issues. More times than not, this does not always occur. Failing to properly diagnose a medical condition can have devastating effects on your health, especially when the failure to diagnose involved a potentially-life threatening condition like cancer or cardiovascular issues.
Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include numerous cancers such as breast cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer. Other commonly misdiagnosed conditions include brain tumors, appendicitis, and ectopic pregnancies. If you or a loved one is looking to file a malpractice claim based upon a misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis, you have the burden of proving that the healthcare professional was negligent. This means that there must be evidence showing that the cancer, tumor, or other condition was readily noticeable at an earlier date and a doctor, in a similar practice, would have been able to make the diagnosis after a reasonable review of your records. In addition, your condition must have progressed or become much worse for the claim to be financially viable to pursue. This means your cancer, tumor, etc. must have grown, spread or gotten worse in another manner.
Medical Malpractice Elements to Bring a Cause of Action
When a patient is injured because of the negligence of a medical professional, they may be permitted to file a lawsuit alleging negligence. As discussed earlier, filing a malpractice claim in Florida can be complicated. You have the burden of proving the following elements by the greater weight of the evidence (preponderance) to successfully bring a malpractice claim against a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional:
Breach of the Standard of Care
There must be evidence that the doctor, nurse, or other medical malpractice breached the applicable standard of care owed to you or your loved one. To establish that a breach occurred, Florida’s Malpractice Act requires that you find a medical expert practicing in the same field as the doctor who committed the alleged malpractice and obtain an affidavit from the doctor. Without this affidavit, the defense will be able to dismiss your claim.
In addition to establishing a breach of the standard of care, you must also prove causation. This means that you have the burden of proving that the doctor’s breach was the “proximate cause” of your injury. There must be evidence that, but for the doctor’s negligence, your injuries would not have occurred.
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To bring a medical malpractice claim, you or your loved one must have sustained significant harm because the cost of initiating a malpractice claim is quite high. As mentioned in Element 1 above, you must retain a medical expert to review your file and decide as to whether malpractice occurred. Medical experts do not do this for free. In fact, many charge a large sum. This means your injury must be serious enough to have resulted in significant medical expenses, missed time from work, and caused extensive pain and suffering.
Damages You Can Pursue Through a Medical Malpractice Claim
If a medical expert opines that a breach of the standard of care occurred, and there is evidence to prove proximate causation, you can pursue compensatory damages, up to a certain amount. The Florida legislature implemented a “cap” on the amount of damages that can be obtained from a malpractice suit ($500,000 cap on non-economic damages when a suit is filed against a medical practitioner like a doctor or surgeon). Generally, there are two types of damages malpractice claimants pursue – economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include your medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages include pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc. They are more intangible damages and those have the aforementioned statutory cap of $500,000.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Retaining the right attorney to handle your medical malpractice claim is of the utmost importance. The simple reason is because there is a statute of limitations on the amount of time you or a loved one can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent doctor, surgeon, nurse, etc. If you fail to file a claim within the applicable statutory time limits, you could be barred from ever pursuing compensation. In Florida, there is a two-year statute of limitations for a malpractice claim based upon the negligence of a doctor, surgeon, nurse, etc.
Don’t wait to get us on your side. You need someone who will get involved right away and represent you every step of the way. To learn more or discuss your case, get a free consultation with a lawyer at the Ledezma Law Firm by calling or emailing attorney Renier Ledezma at firstname.lastname@example.org.