No Recovery, You Owe Us Nothing
Have you been injured due to the negligence of a treating healthcare provider, such as your physician or nurse? If so, then you may be entitled to obtain significant damages as compensation for your losses pursuant to Florida medical malpractice law.
Here at Searcy Denney, we have extensive experience representing those who have been harmed in medical malpractice scenarios. We understand the unique challenge typical of medical malpractice litigation, and how best to proceed with a lawsuit so as to secure maximum compensation for our clients. Contact our firm today to discuss your claims with one of our skilled Florida medical malpractice attorneys.
If you’ve been injured in a potential medical malpractice scenario, then you may be wondering whether the treating healthcare provider at-issue actually committed medical malpractice or simply made a mistake for which they cannot be held liable. This can be rather confusing for the first-time plaintiff — the line drawn between a mere mistake and medical malpractice liability is thin and may be a significant source of conflict during litigation, as it can spell the difference between a “win” and a “loss.”
Medical malpractice liability will attach to a defendant healthcare provider if you can show that they failed to adhere to the applicable standard of care for the circumstances. Failure to adhere to the professional standard of care will constitute medical negligence and give rise to a legitimate medical malpractice claim.
So, what is the applicable standard of care?
Florida law establishes a clear definition of the standard of care necessary for evaluating medical malpractice liability. Section 766.102 of the Florida Statutes describes the standard of care owed by a healthcare provider as the: level of care, skill, and treatment that is recognized as appropriate by other, similarly-positioned healthcare providers, given the overall circumstances. Factors that can influence the standard of care include, but are not necessarily limited, to the following:
Let’s clarify with a brief example.
Suppose that you are injured due to an error committed by your treating surgeon. The surgeon made an incision based off the available evidence, but it led to significant bleeding and damage that led to injury. Now, you might sue the surgeon to recover damages for medical malpractice, but the court will evaluate whether the defendant-surgeon actually violated the standard of care. Experts will be brought in to testify as to the standard of care for the circumstances at-issue.
As the plaintiff, you’ll want to show that a similarly-positioned surgeon (with the same experience, age, background, and dealing with the same surgical event) would have made a different incision, and you would not have suffered an injury. If you can establish a standard of care that the defendant clearly violated, then you can recover damages for medical malpractice.
In Florida, and elsewhere, there is a wide range of different type of medical malpractice cases, some more commonly encountered than others. Below are a few examples.
Surgical errors are quite variable and frequently misunderstood by first-time plaintiffs in the medical malpractice context. Complex surgery requires that the treating healthcare providers invest the time and effort necessary to fully evaluate the condition and medical history of the patient. Inadequate preparation can give rise to surgical errors later on, even when the attending surgeon makes no mistakes during the actual procedure. Other examples of negligence in the surgical context include failure to properly sanitize equipment, and failure to monitor a patient’s condition.
Emergency rooms are fundamentally chaotic places. Overworked healthcare providers move quickly between patients, attempting to dispense reasonable medical care in a setting that does not necessarily give them the time or resources to make ideal decisions for the patient. In the emergency room context, it’s quite likely that you — as a patient — will be the victim of a medical mistake of some kind, though the imposition of medical malpractice liability is not always clearcut. Because emergency rooms are so stressful and the constraints forced on healthcare providers so significant, the standard of care is somewhat lower than in other situations (i.e., a long-term care clinical environment).
Diagnostic negligence is very common and may lead to significant injuries (or even death) in situations where the illness progresses silently due to the lack of a proper diagnosis. Errors include, but are not necessarily limited, to the following:
For example, if you tell your physician that you are experiencing certain symptoms, and they fail to recognize that the symptoms are serious enough — and potentially indicative of a larger problem — such that a diagnostic test should be ordered, then there may be significant delays in you receiving the necessary diagnosis. If it turns out that the physician’s actions led to a delayed diagnosis that advanced your condition and gave rise to further injury (i.e., cancer), then you would have an actionable medical malpractice claim.
Some healthcare providers are “too” cautious in how they handle patients. If you are suffering from a medical condition that requires treatment, and your healthcare provider delays or otherwise refuses to give you adequate treatment (perhaps in the hopes of waiting for it to resolve itself), then your condition could worsen and cause you further injury — under such circumstances, you would almost certainly have a legitimate medical malpractice claim.
In Florida, healthcare providers must inform the patient of the risks involved with treatment and obtain the patient’s consent before moving forward with a procedure or treatment — consent does not necessarily require more than verbal or gestural acceptance. Further, in the event that a healthcare provider fails to obtain informed consent, medical malpractice will not attach if the defendant shows that a reasonable patient would have consented (given the circumstances).
An incorrect diagnosis — misdiagnosis — is one of the more commonly encountered forms of medical negligence in Florida, and elsewhere. Importantly, however, some healthcare providers are simply not equipped to make an accurate diagnosis.
For example, if you are suffering from a rare viral condition that affects fewer than 100 persons every years (and has no obvious symptoms), then it’s not likely that a court would impose medical malpractice liability on a physician who failed to correctly diagnose the condition. On the other hand, if the physician was an expert in rare viral conditions, and should have identified and correctly diagnosed the condition, then medical malpractice liability may attach.
Cancer Misdiagnosis: Cancer misdiagnosis is extremely serious, as — given the current state of cancer treatment in the medical industry — certain cancers can be more difficult, if not impossible to treat as they advance to a later stage. The earlier that cancer is identified and treated, the better chance the patient has of surviving (and avoiding extensive physical impairments).
Heart Attack Misdiagnosis: Many patients don’t realize that heart attacks are commonly misdiagnosed, which can lead to unnecessary (and improper) treatment that exacerbates the condition and allows it to go unchecked for an extended period of time, putting the patient at further risk of injury, or even death.
Radiological Misdiagnosis: Radiological decisions (in the diagnostic context) are tied to an inherent level of uncertainty, but well-trained radiologists are capable of intelligently interpreting the results so as to give other healthcare providers the information they need to move forward with treatment. When a radiologist makes a diagnosis based on the radiological results, they must avoid misreading the test images and avoid too much conjecture. Treating physicians may rely on the interpretation of the radiologist, and if the radiologist is giving a diagnosis that is based excessively on conjecture, then this could lead to months or even years of incorrect treatment.
Stroke Misdiagnosis: Stroke misdiagnosis is common, in part because it’s not always clear whether a patient has suffered a stroke — though some stroke events are more obvious and more significant in the deficits they cause, other strokes are minor by comparison. Stroke misdiagnosis can allow the conditions that foster a high likelihood of stroke to continue, thus heightening the risk of another stroke down the line. Further, a minor stroke that goes untreated can worsen over time, leading to substantial injuries or even death.
In the amputation context, there are two major forms of medical malpractice that are frequently encountered:
For example, if your treating healthcare provider convinces you to move forward with amputation without informing you that there are other, less invasive treatment options that could save your limb, then they may be committing medical malpractice — the deficits produced by an amputation can be quite severe and can have lifelong consequences for the patient.
Anesthesia errors may occur due to the following negligent acts:
In some cases, an anesthesia error can give cause death, paralysis, nerve damage, respiratory problems, and more. Given the potential for such severe damages, it’s important that anesthesiologists exercise care when evaluating a patient and conducting the procedure.
Americans spend $34 billion on herbal and alternative remedies every year, despite only one-third of the treatments having been scientifically tested. Many claims made by supplement companies are bogus and cost patients’ money for products that do not work. Worse, some have detrimental health effects. Patients seeking a more natural form of healing may instead ingest harmful chemicals of unknown origin or that have never been tested for safety.
One of the main differences between a natural supplement and a pharmaceutical is the level of regulation. Pharmaceutical manufacturers must undergo an approval process under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations to market and sell their drugs in the United States. The FDA may also recall drugs deemed unsafe or mandate use of black box warnings to alert consumers about potential health risks associated with the pharmaceutical. No such government oversight is given to natural supplements.
Supplement manufacturers have a duty to only advertise honest information about their products. Attempts to mislead the consumer are false advertising and are illegal in the United States, but the deception is not usually exposed unless patients suffer fatalities or serious injuries.
Further, pharmaceuticals can interact with herbal medications to cause severe reactions. Your doctor and hospital have a duty to advise you about the risks due to interactions with herbal supplements and other medications. Even the herbal company must warn you about dangerous drug interactions.
At Searcy Denney, our attorneys have represented medical malpractice plaintiffs and their families for over four decades, handling a range of medical malpractice claims — from surgical errors to anesthesia errors to misdiagnosis and more. It is not uncommon for medical malpractice plaintiffs to face significant pushback from hostile insurers and arrogant physician defendants who believe that they’ve done nothing wrong. As such, it’s critical that you work with a legal team that can exercise significant leverage in early negotiations, but who are comfortable with trial litigation, if necessary.
We are relentless advocates for our clients, and have no trouble moving forward with the litigation process and taking a case to trial in the event that negotiations fall through. Our aggressive approach to medical malpractice litigation has earned us significant case results in the form of multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements.
If you’d like to learn more about your medical malpractice claim and the next steps to take in order to secure maximum compensation for your injuries, then we encourage you to get in touch with one of the experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys. Call 1-800-780-8607 or request an appointment online to schedule a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation today.