Medical Malpractice

Theodore C. Eastmoore  |  Patricia D. Crauwels  |  E. Keith DuBose

When you visit a doctor or other medical professional you expect to be treated in a competent manner. The law reflects this expectation—medical professionals are held to a high standard in their treatment of patients. Medical professionals have a duty to perform at the level of a trained professional meeting the accepted standard of care in the industry.

A failure to meet this expected standard, which results in damage to the patient, is medical malpractice. Medical professionals may be held liable for injuries and damages that their actions, or lack of actions, cause.

Why Matthews Eastmoore?

Medical professionals and their insurers are experts, so you need an expert on your side as well.

The attorneys at Matthews Eastmoore will:

  • Meet with you to discuss your injuries, your treatment, and review the information about your case.
  • Explain your legal rights and your options, and help you determine whether to take legal action.
  • Collect evidence about your claim to support your case and help find expert witnesses.
  • Determine the value of your claim through research and experience, and find out which parties are potentially liable for your injuries—for example, doctors, hospitals, or nurses.
  • Navigate statutory and procedural rules concerning medical malpractice cases

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Doctors and other medical professionals are expected to perform as well other reasonably competent professionals in their field. If they do not, serious injuries and even death may occur as a consequence of such negligence.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional fails to provide a patient with appropriate health care treatment and damage occurs to the patient as a result of the failure to meet the standard of care.

Malpractice can occur either through an act or an omission. An act is an action taken by the medical professional that results in damage to the patient. An omission, on the other hand, is when the professional does not perform an action that is necessary to properly treat the patient. In either case, the professional is liable for the damages which are caused by his or her negligence.

Four elements must be proven to win a medical malpractice case. You must prove that there was:

  • Patient/doctor relationship: You must be able to prove that you had a physician-patient relationship with that specific doctor.
  • Breach of duty of care: Medical practitioners owe a duty of care to their patients to meet the prevailing standard of care in their industry. To breach this duty of care, the medical professional must act in a manner inconsistent with how a similarly trained medical professional would have acted in the situation.
  • Causation of injury: The medical professional’s breach of duty, whether it be an action or a failure to act, must have caused the patient’s injury.
  • Damages: It must be shown that the injury resulted in damages to the patient. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, or pain and suffering.

Who Can Sue

The plaintiff in a medical malpractice case is usually the victim of the malpractice. In some cases, another party can be designated to represent the victim, for example if the victim is a child or has a mental impairment. If the victim has died as a result of malpractice, the executor of the victim’s estate can sue the medical professional for wrongful death.

When You May Sue

There are legal limitations on the amount of time that can pass between the victim suffering injury due to medical malpractice, and initiating a lawsuit against the professional responsible for that malpractice.

In Florida, the statute requires a victim to sue within two years of the date on which he or she discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury. There are a few exceptions, so it is best to consult with a lawyer before your case gets near the deadline.

Medical Malpractice Damages

  • Medical expenses: The cost of hospital or doctor visits, medication, therapy, and more.
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity: If the injury forces the victim to miss time at work, damages may include wages lost and loss of future ability to earn wages.
  • Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more: Victims may receive compensation for physical and emotional pain they endure due to their medical malpractice injuries. In some cases, such as permanent injuries, spouses may also be compensated for loss of the victim’s companionship or affection.
  • Other types of damages may be awarded: Talk to your attorney about your situation.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice That You May Have Encountered

  • Misdiagnosis/delayed diagnosis: A medical professional may fail to diagnose an illness or injury correctly, or fail to diagnose the issue in a reasonable time period. This can lead to mistreatment or a missed opportunity to treat the problem early.
  • Surgery errors: A surgeon may cause additional damage while operating, or nursing staff may fail to provide adequate postoperative care.
  • Medication errors: A prescribing doctor may incorrectly write the prescription drug choice or dosage, or a nurse may wrongly administer a correctly prescribed medication. In other cases, faulty equipment at the medical facility may cause a problem with the administration of the treatment.
  • Anesthesiology errors: An anesthesiologist may give a patient too much anesthesia, or the anesthesiologist may err in monitoring the patient’s vital signs, in the intubation of a patient, or in the use of faulty equipment. These errors include when medical professionals fail to consider a patient’s medical history when anaesthetizing, or fail to warn a patient of all the risks involved with being anaesthetized.
  • Failure to warn a patient of known risks: Doctors must warn patients of the known risks of a specific treatment or procedure beforehand, the failure to do so may be malpractice or battery.
  • Childbirth issues: A medical professional may misdiagnose issues in prenatal care or fail to spot potential complications. The doctor may also make mistakes during the birth itself, such as failure to spot a tangled umbilical cord.
  • Other common situations include:
    • Errors in the emergency room
    • Problems with a medical device
    • Improper Treatment
    • Postoperative Negligence
    • Hospital errors

When you go to a medical professional, you are putting your health and welfare in the hands of another person. This is why medical professionals are held to a high standard in their administration of care. When they fail to meet this standard, grave damage can result and people’s lives can change forever.

If you feel you have been the victim of medical malpractice, call us at 941-366-8888 or schedule a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys will give you the help you need to achieve the justice you deserve.

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The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form. We do not undertake representation of your claims until all parties involved have entered into a signed agreement. If we have not entered into a signed agreement with you, you may want to speak with other attorneys regarding your claims since statutes of limitations may apply.