Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and other experts are required to exercise a legal standard of care when handling patients. When these professionals breach their standard of care, patients end up with injuries and sometimes even death. If you are in Palm Valley and have been harmed because of negligence by a medical professional, the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney is here to help you recover damages for medical malpractice.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Whenever you visit the hospital because of a disease or injury, you expect the medical experts in the health facility to make a proper diagnosis and suggest the right treatment that will make you feel better. The procedure to be administered is dependent on your age and health condition. When health experts fail to exercise due care, a patient might get harmed or end up dead.
Health professionals make mistakes, so keep in mind that not every mistake they make is treated as medical malpractice. There are legal standards that must be determined to prove there was negligence by the medical experts.
Types of Medical Malpractice
There are many ways in which medical practitioners make life-changing mistakes when handling patients, thus resulting in medical malpractice. Some of the techniques include:
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
When you visit a health facility due to an illness, you expect the doctor who is handling your case to conduct a thorough evaluation of your case and give an accurate diagnosis. However, your expectations of a precise diagnosis might not always happen. The effects of misdiagnosis have severe implications on your health. A misdiagnose is even worse where the disease involved is cancer. If cancer is not diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is almost impossible, which means you risk dying.
A correct diagnosis, on the other hand, ensures that you will receive the right treatment and your health will improve. A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, on the other hand, will result in the wrong medication. Your health will continue deteriorating despite spending money and time receiving treatment.
Some of the commonly misdiagnosed health conditions include:
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
- DVT and pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack
- Brain tumor
- Ectopic pregnancies
These medical conditions have symptoms that are similar to other illnesses which lead to doctors mistaking the symptoms for another disease, thus resulting in a misdiagnose. Again, some of the symptoms of the above health issues might not be revealed on time which results in delayed diagnosis. If you are a victim of any misdiagnosis, you can file a claim for medical malpractice. However, to do that you will need to consult with your Palm Valley Personal Injury Attorney so that they can help you prove the health professional handling your case was negligent.
Proving these cases is not easy because you need to provide proof that cancer or any other health condition had noticeable symptoms at the early stages, but the doctor failed to notice the signs. Your attorney must further prove that a similar medical practice would have made the right diagnosis. Also, you must establish that after the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, your health condition such as cancer became worse or spread to other parts of the body.
All surgical procedures have risks, and before undergoing the treatment, you sign a form giving consent and acknowledging that you understand the risks involved. Although there are risks, if the surgeon makes an avoidable mistake, he or she could be charged with medical malpractice.
The side effects of medical malpractice during surgery include:
- Organ failure or damage
- Immune system failure
- Further surgery
Mistakes that can result in the above side effects should be avoided at all costs. For this reason, surgical procedures must be undertaken by highly experienced surgeons and medical personnel.
A medical expert engages in medical malpractice during surgery if he or she makes errors that result in:
- Excessive blood loss
- Organ perforation
- Unintended organ damage
- Surgery on the wrong part
- Leaving foreign objects in the victim’s body
Unintentional organ damage is one of the most dangerous risks that can occur during operation. When a vessel or organ is damaged and left unnoticed, bile can leak over time leading to severe infections that can result even in fatalities.
When medical experts make mistakes in health records, you might end up getting surgery on the wrong part of your body. If you were to get an amputation on your left leg and the surgeon amputates the right leg, you will end up losing both legs instead of one which might change your life entirely in addition to increasing medical costs.
When a surgical procedure happens without being cautious, the foreign materials used in the surgery might be left in the body. These objects can stay in your body for years, causing chronic pain and leading to the emergence of other medical conditions. You will need to undertake another surgical procedure to remove the object in the body. If these cases of foreign objects go unnoticed for a long time, the victim might end up dead.
If you have undergone a surgical procedure when you don’t need it, you should consult your Palm Valley Personal Injury Attorney to help you file a malpractice claim.
Improper Administration of Anesthesia
When undergoing surgery, the surgeon will need to administer anesthesia to keep you unconscious during the procedure. Anesthesia is risky, which is why a professional anesthesiologist should give it. Before the administration of the anesthesia, the anesthesiologist should check your health history and allergies so that he or she can decide on the best suitable drug. Even after being given the anesthesia, the expert should stay until the procedure ends monitoring the effects the drug has on you.
If an anesthesiologist fails to check your health history and administers a drug that triggers allergy symptoms, it might result in complications that might result even in death. If during surgery, you felt the incisions and pain because you are conscious, you should file a medical malpractice claim against the surgeon and other medical staff who were helping with the surgery.
Note that whenever preventable injuries occur in a hospital, aside from the medical staff, the hospital itself as an entity might be held liable for the harm. The reason is that hospitals have a duty of due care to patients and thus should conduct a thorough evaluation of employees during recruitment to ensure they employ practitioners that have been certified and competent. If a hospital hires incompetent staff, then it should be held liable for negligence in the event a patient suffers injuries while admitted to the hospital.
Elements of Medical Malpractice
If you believe a medical professional is behind your injuries or loss, you can file a medical malpractice claim. For you to acquire damages from the suit, certain elements must be proved just like in other personal injury claims. But you must understand that medical malpractice is very complex and your Palm Valley Personal Injury Attorney must conduct a thorough investigation on the issue.
Your attorney should begin by speaking to you or the victim to get the whole story. But if the victim of the malpractice is dead, he or she will have to talk to family members. The other thing the attorney should do is go through your medical records. Obtaining medical records of a patient is not a piece of cake so expect the process to take time. Remember, without medical records, all you have are allegations against a medical practitioner. Such cases rarely get compensated, which is why you need the health records.
To win a claim, you must demonstrate the following elements:
Breach of Legal Standard of Care
When laying a complaint against medical practitioners, you must establish that the professionals owed you a duty of standard care but breached it. To prove this element, if you are filing a claim against a surgeon, you will need to get another surgeon who practices in the same field as the negligent surgeon to acquire an affidavit. With the testimony, you are guaranteed that you have a strong case. But without it, the case will be dismissed.
Besides proving that the health profession breached the legal duty of care, you must show that the breach of duty was the proximate causation of injuries or death. Your attorney must demonstrate that were it not for the violation of responsibility, the injuries or death would not have occurred.
You will also need to prove that you have sustained significant harm that resulted in substantial medical expenses. Initiating a medical malpractice claim is a costly endeavor, so there is no need to pursue the complaint if there are no significant losses due to the negligence. If you successfully prove you have suffered substantial damages, then you will receive compensation for your injuries.
Damages Available in a Medical Malpractice Claim
These are the monetary benefits you try to win from the claim. In Florida, there is no limit for economic damages. However, the non-economic or punitive damages are capped. Therefore, after a medical expert has signed off and validated your claim, you should receive costs but up to a certain amount.
Florida statute has different caps for practitioners and non-practitioners. Practitioners include all medical professionals and registered nurses.
The general limitation for non-economic damages is no more than $500,000 for every claimant. A practitioner defendant should also not be subjected to more than $500,000. The non-economic damages seek to reimburse you for the pain and suffering.
Where a victim has suffered catastrophic injuries or severe damages, the damages to be awarded should not exceed $1,000,000.
When there is malpractice in emergency care and services, non-economic damages to be awarded should not surpass $150,000 for each plaintiff and a total of $300,000 from all practitioners.
If you are a Medicaid recipient and have sustained harm because of negligence by a practitioner, you are entitled to up to $300,000 per claimant. A practitioner in these cases should also not be responsible for more than $200,000 unless he or she engaged in an illegal act when providing services to a Medicaid recipient.
Defenses for Medical Malpractice
If you are a medical practitioner and have been sued for malpractice, a Palm Valley Personal Injury Attorney can help you contest the claim. Some of the defenses that you can use include arguing that there was no negligence and legal standard of care was upheld. If all the treatment procedures were followed as per the law, then you cannot be blamed for negligence.
Also, sometimes, the patient might suffer health complications, but because of their negligence and not that of the health practitioner. If you as a doctor prescribed medication and gave instructions to the patient on usage, but he or she fails to adhere to the guidelines, then even if he or she suffers harm, you are not to blame.
In Florida, good Samaritan laws are available that ensure people who help others during an emergency are not sued for negligence.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
If you or a close family member is considering legal action after medical malpractice, do not hesitate to hire a Palm Valley Personal Injury Attorney to evaluate your case and suggest possible legal options. The reason you should not delay to consult an attorney is that there is a time limit within which you should file a claim. Failure to file a claim within this timeline bars you from pursuing compensation in the future. In Florida, the time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim is twenty-four months. The clock begins ticking immediately after the injury or harm has been reasonably determined.
Florida has also enacted a statute of repose which states that medical practitioners should not be sued for malpractice after four years unless under justifiable circumstances. But if there were incidents of fraud or cover-ups by medical experts, the time limit is extended to seven years.
In cases involving children, the statute of repose will not apply until the child is eight years. But if the parents were aware of the condition, the time limit would remain to be two years.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are in Palm Valley and want to pursue a medical malpractice suit, contact Clay County Personal Injury Attorney at 904-494-8242 to discuss your claim. Our team is ready to review your case.