What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with 10% of all deaths blamed on preventable medical errors according to a 2016 analysis. Claims for medical malpractice apply to all types of doctors and specialists, as well as to nurses, physician assistants, hospitals, surgical centers, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. There are many elements as to what constitutes a viable medical malpractice claim.
Malpractice occurs when a health care provider deviates (or "breaches") the recognized medical “standard of care” in the treatment of a patient. Simply put, the standard of care is what a similarly qualified practitioner would (or would not) have done under the same or similar circumstances. If it is determined that the standard of care was breached, then medical negligence may be established. However, for a case to be viable, a plaintiff must show that significant harm (or "damages") directly resulted from the negligence.
A serious, permanent bodily injury or harm to a patient caused by the failure to meet minimum standards of care is at the heart of what constitutes medical malpractice. A simple mistake is not enough to constitute malpractice unless the mistake causes measurable harm, injury, disability, or death to a patient. In other words, if a doctor makes a medical error but the mistake causes no permanent injury to the patient, there are not enough damages to support filing a lawsuit. Medical malpractice are extremely expensive and time-consuming to litigate, not to mention stressful for a plaintiff and his or her family (or the patient's survivors in a case involving wrongful death). Malpractice cases require the involvement of numerous medical experts and countless hours of discovery and deposition testimony. The burden falls on the plaintiff to prove a breach in care, that the injury was directly caused by the breach in care, and that considerable damage was caused. If the injury is minor, the cost of pursuing the lawsuit may be greater than the eventual recovery. As such, most medical malpractice lawsuits involve considerable harm or disability resulting in lost income, significant past and future medical bills, pain, suffering, and hardship.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical negligence cases may include claims against a health care provider or hospital for improper care, medication errors, missed or delayed diagnoses, surgical errors, system failures, lapses in judgment, or improper nursing care, just to name a few examples. The Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe are Board-certified trial attorneys who aggressively litigate claims for serious injuries or death arising from many different types of malpractice including, but not limited to, the following types of cases:
Misdiagnosis of a serious medical condition (heart attacks, blood clot, tumors)
Florida Law Requires Extensive Pre-Suit Investigation and Pre-Suit Notice Period
Florida law is very complicated and has extensive statutory requirements that must be followed before a lawsuit can be filed against a medical provider. For this reason, it is important you retain an experienced attorney who specializes in Florida Medical Malpractice law. The pre-suit investigation period helps to determine which defendants are truly liable for negligence as health care providers. Florida law also requires a prospective plaintiff to submit a verified written medical expert affidavit which outlines how the standard of care was breached, in which manner the standard of care was breached, what injuries or damages resulted from the breach in care, and that there is justification for the plaintiff's claim for medical malpractice. The medical expert opinion must come from a health care provider who holds an active medical license in the same field as the prospective defendant.
Statutes of Limitations on Florida Claims
There are strict laws in the State of Florida that limit how long a person can wait before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years from the date the error or omission occurred. Exactly when a cause of action accrues can be a highly contested issue. If a lawsuit is not filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations period, then your right to sue will be forever lost. Florida law also has extensive pre-suit requirements before a lawsuit can be filed for medical malpractice, so it is very important that you not delay seeking legal counsel if you or a loved one has been seriously harmed by the negligent acts of a health care professional.
Facts About Medical Malpractice
• 440,000 patients die every year from preventable medical errors according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety
• 1 in 3 patients admitted to the hospital will experience a medical error according to a 2011 study in the Health Affairs
• Researchers at Harvard University found that 97% medical malpractice cases were meritorious, concluding, “Portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.” New England Journal of Medicine, 2006
• A 2013 study in BMJ Open They found the most common malpractice claim involved missed diagnoses (i.e. cancer, heart attacks, appendectomy, ectopic pregnancy and bone fractures) and accounted for 26%-63% of total claims. This was followed by drug errors which were seen in 6%-20% of claims.
• A 2015 study published in Anesthesiology found nearly 50% of surgeries at a top U.S. hospital included at least one medication error or drug-related incident that harmed a patient. The medications most frequently associated with errors were propofol, a commonly used sedative in the operating room; fentanyl, a powerful pain medication; and phenylephrine, a medication given to increase blood pressure in patients with very low blood pressure.
• A 2002 NEJM study found that 1 in 3 preventable medical errors were disclosed to patients.
• In 2010, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that 1 in 7 Medicare inpatients experience an adverse event during their hospital stay. Many of these incidents are incorrect medication dosing or hospital-acquired infection; a rare few are wrong-site surgeries or drug overdoses. And an estimated 44 percent of these are preventable.
Contact Our Tampa Malpractice Attorneys
If you believe that you or someone you love have been harmed in Tampa, please contact the experienced lawyers at the law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe. It is not always easy to decipher what is and what is not medical negligence. There is no charge for our legal consultation. Our medical negligence attorneys are Board-certified trial attorneys and have been recognized by the legal community for their experience and knowledge in litigating claims for persons who have been victims of serious medical errors.
Ways to Research Medical Providers
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