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What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Florida?

On Behalf of Cronin & Maxwell

“Medical malpractice” refers to any incident in which a medical professional fails to uphold the standard of care their patient requires, and patient harm results. Doctors, nurses, and all other medical professionals have a duty to do no harm and to only use accepted treatments and techniques in helping their patients. Physicians may only break from the standard of care with a very good reason, such as a patient’s unique physiological complications that make the standard course of treatment unsafe or ineffective.

Discerning Medical Malpractice vs. Understandable Errors in Treatment

Whenever a medical professional breaches the standard of care and harms their patient, this can potentially form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that medicine is an inherently uncertain and extremely demanding field, and there is always a margin of error in the treatment of every medical condition.

For example, if a surgeon is performing an operation and accidentally injures the patient in a minor fashion, they may correct the issue immediately during the course of the operation with no real harm done to the patient. They must still inform the patient of the mistake, explain the steps taken to correct it, clarify any possible complications, and accept professional responsibility for the error. This would be an understandable mistake that would not constitute the foundation for a medical malpractice claim. If, on the other hand, a physician attempted a surgery while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and harmed their patient, this would be a clear case of medical malpractice likely to result in severe penalties for the physician along with liability for the patient’s damages.

If you’re unsure whether you have grounds for legal action, it is important to consult an experienced attorney as soon as you can. If your injury occurred because your doctor failed to follow proper diagnostic procedures, failed to inform you of the risks of a specific treatment, or concealed a serious error that resulted in additional medical expenses and other losses, you likely have grounds for a claim. Misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and gross negligence are just a few of the most commonly reported types of medical malpractice experienced by Florida patients.

How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

While a medical malpractice claim is a type of personal injury claim, there are special rules that apply to this type of case that you must understand if you intend to seek compensation for your injury. Before proceeding with your civil claim against the medical professional who injured you, you must first obtain an affidavit of merit from a medical professional confirming your injury is the result of the defendant’s malpractice. This affidavit must come from a medical professional who holds equivalent credentials and experience to that of the defendant.

Your affidavit of merit must be accompanied by a Notice of Intent to File Suit issued to the defendant. This allows them time to respond to your claim and may open the door to a speedy resolution via private settlement. Whether you can resolve your case in this manner or you must prepare for litigation, it is vital to have legal counsel you can trust for your recovery efforts.

Florida law allows you to seek full compensation for all the economic losses you suffered because of the malpractice you experienced. State law limits compensation for your pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case to $500,000. However, if the malpractice caused death or a permanent vegetative state, the victim’s family can receive $1,000,000 in pain and suffering compensation.

FAQs

Q: What Do I Need to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Case?

A: Success with your medical malpractice action requires proving the defendant in your claim failed to meet the standard of care your situation required. The professional medical community uses the latest research data to determine appropriate care for every known medical condition, and medical professionals must adhere to these standards of care at all times. Your medical malpractice attorney will help you determine what you will need to establish liability for your damages.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

A: “Medical malpractice” is a term used to define negligence committed by medical professionals resulting in patient harm. All medical professionals have a duty to do no harm to their patients and to adhere to their standards of care at all times. It’s possible for a doctor to commit medical malpractice through an act of professional negligence, such as failing to perform a surgical procedure correctly, but it is also possible for them to commit gross negligence, such as attempting an operation while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Q: What Is the Most Common Type of Medical Malpractice?

A: Diagnostic errors account for most of the medical malpractice claims filed in Florida each year. This type of claim can happen in various ways, such as a doctor failing to deliver a timely and/or correct diagnosis, delivering the wrong diagnosis, or failing to adhere to proper diagnostic procedures in treating the patient. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can prevent the patient from receiving the proper care they need for their actual condition, subject them to potentially harmful treatments that offer no real benefit and allow their original conditions to worsen.

Q: Is it Worth Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney?

A: A medical malpractice case is a type of personal injury claim, but there are various special procedures for this type of case that you must be prepared to address. An experienced attorney can be an invaluable asset in this situation, helping you to make informed decisions and uncovering all available channels of recovery. It is always worth having legal representation you can trust for any type of medical malpractice claim in Florida.

Cronin & Maxwell, PL have years of professional experience representing clients in medical malpractice cases, and our team can leverage this experience on your behalf. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit and file it if so. Contact us today to discuss your medical malpractice case in consultation with an attorney you can trust.

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