People place enormous trust in healthcare professionals to practice medicine with the utmost professionalism and provide the highest level of care to their patients. When medical professionals and hospitals fail in their duty to protect the patients that trusted them for their care, the results can be life-altering and devastating. Hospital errors and medical negligence are responsible for thousands of unnecessary patient injuries and fatalities annually.
No matter what medical malpractice event impacted you or a family member, it’s in your best interest to meet with a seasoned Ocala medical malpractice attorney at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances. Victims who suffer damages may recover full compensation with the help of our Ocala personal injury legal team. We have more than 40 years of experience helping clients who suffered injuries because of poor care, and we have a proven track record of getting results for our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help you recover compensation for the injuries a healthcare provider’s negligence caused you.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Over 250,000 patients die every year from medical errors, and many more survive with serious injuries. This problem is so severe that medical malpractice errors are now America’s third leading cause of death.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or facility deviates from the specific standard of care for a patient, and the patient suffers harm. Florida law and the medical profession define medical malpractice as any act or omission by a doctor or other healthcare professional during the treatment of a patient that doesn’t align with the accepted norms of practice for that field of medicine and results in injury to a patient. At its most basic, medical malpractice is a type of negligence, which is the standard for personal injury cases.
Courts and legal and medical professionals generally assess a particular act or omission that has caused a patient injury by deciding whether another medical professional in the same or similar circumstances would have behaved similarly to provide the appropriate care to the patient.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Medical malpractice can take on countless forms.
General examples of medical negligence that can warrant a lawsuit include:
- Disregarding or failing to obtain an appropriate patient history
- Failure to recognize concerning symptoms
- Failure to order proper diagnostic testing
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Misinterpreting or ignoring laboratory results
- Surgical errors or wrong-site surgery
- Unnecessary surgery
- Wrong medication or dosage
- Premature discharge
- Poor or lack of follow-up or aftercare
- Birth injuries
- Anesthesia errors
- Defective medical equipment
Causes Of Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice can have many different causes. Sometimes, more than one cause applies to the same case.
A medical error can stem from:
- Lack of experience
- Poor communication between medical professionals, such as one doctor to another, or a nurse to a pharmacist
- Poor communication with the patient
- Poor documentation
- Lack of effective systems within a medical office or another setting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Alcohol or drugs
- Being in a hurry
- Heavy patient loads
- Provider medical problems
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice is an injury or wrongful death arising from a medical provider or hospital’s negligence.
To build a solid medical malpractice claim against the hospital, your Ocala medical malpractice attorney must prove that:
- The medical provider or hospital had a duty of care to keep you from undue harm, injury, or death. This duty of care can vary by medical provider.
- The medical provider or hospital violated or breached their duty of care. Civil personal injury law acknowledges that the medical profession and its sub-specialties recognize specific medical standards as acceptable medical treatment by reasonably prudent medical professionals under the same or similar circumstances. This is what sets the standard of care. All patients have the right to expect that all medical professionals and hospitals will deliver care congruent with these standards. If you can show the doctor failed to meet proper standards, you prove that medical negligence occurred.
- You suffered harm because of the breach of duty: For a medical malpractice claim to be successful, it’s not sufficient that the medical professional breached the standard of care. While this is concerning, the patient must also prove that they sustained an injury that would not have occurred if it weren’t for another party’s negligence. In the medical field, an unfavorable outcome alone is not malpractice.
- The breach was the direct and proximate cause of your harm: The patient has to show that the other party’s negligence resulted in the injury. The case won’t succeed if negligence did not lead to the injury.
- The harm you suffered caused a compensable loss, such as additional medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses (including parking and gas for medical appointments or prescriptions), lost income and wages, and pain and suffering: Medical malpractice cases are incredibly expensive to pursue, often necessitating testimony of many medical experts and innumerable hours of deposition testimony. In a viable case, the patient must establish that they suffered substantial damages from an injury sustained due to medical negligence. If the patient’s damages are nominal, the cost of pursuing the case might be greater than the potential eventual recovery. To pursue a medical malpractice case, the patient must establish that their injury caused:
- Loss of income
- Unusual or chronic pain
- Suffering and hardship
- Significant past and future medical bills
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a legal deadline to file your claim. The deadline to file medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida is two years from the injury or the date the injured party reasonably should have discovered their injuries. For instance, if a doctor amputates the wrong leg accidentally, the patient will find the error the moment they wake up. They will have two years from that date to file a medical malpractice claim.
On the other hand, other medical malpractice situations aren’t discoverable right away. For example, suppose a surgeon forgot to take a medical instrument or sponge out before they close a surgical site. In that case, the surgical patient may not know they are walking around with it inside of them for weeks. If the patient returns and the doctor discovers the instrument or sponge, the patient now has two years from the date of discovery to file a legal case.
However, there is a catch. You cannot take legal action four years after the initial occurrence of the malpractice incident. If the patient doesn’t find out about the instrument or sponge for four years, they can no longer file a lawsuit.
In certain situations, the statute of limitations increases.
These circumstances include:
- A medical malpractice victim who is a minor under the age of eight.
- Florida law recognizes that children might not show any evidence or symptoms of malpractice for an extended period. For instance, brain injuries that result from medical malpractice involving birth may not be noticeable until the child is much older. Because of this, their parents may file a lawsuit within two years of discovery for any medical malpractice that occurred to their child while they are less than eight years of age.
- Medical malpractice due to intentional fraud or concealment.
- You could file a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit within seven years of the occurrence if a medical provider or practice provided intentionally concealed or fraudulent information. In short, if fraud or concealment is involved in the patient’s medical malpractice, they will receive an extra three years from the occurrence to file a lawsuit.
Generally, if the statute expires before you’ve settled your claim or filed a lawsuit, you give up the right to seek any malpractice compensation through the civil court system.
You should also note that the county and state governments run many Florida hospitals. Injury claims against government agencies can be incredibly challenging and frequently have much shorter deadlines for making your claim.
Regarding the statute of limitations, the bottom line is that you must reach out to a knowledgeable Ocala car accident lawyer as soon as you can after learning about your medical malpractice injuries. Your attorney can review the entirety of the facts in the case to determine precisely what statute of limitations might apply to your case, ensuring that it doesn’t expire before you file your lawsuit.
Steps to a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim
Filing a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit requires several steps that ensure the claim’s legitimacy. These steps also provide that established peers of the at-fault medical professional or hospital view the case as valid.
Florida law requires that the injured party give notice to the at-fault party of their plans to file a medical malpractice claim. The notice must have a statement from a duly sworn expert witness testifying to the claim’s merits. Medical malpractice cases aren’t likely to pass this step if requirements and medical evidence don’t support it. Therefore, this requirement is in place to discourage frivolous or unmerited claims.
An expert for the at-fault party must review the case under Florida’s medical malpractice lawsuit guidelines. Their expert must check all the facts related to their area of expertise. Then, the expert will draft an opinion for the court regarding the case’s merits.
Expert Witness Testimony
Before the lawsuit goes to trial, a medical expert witness must testify to the judge who will preside at the trial. The judge decides if a jury should hear the testimony at this hearing.
Each of these required steps is of extreme importance.
Not following these steps can result in a judge throwing a medical malpractice case out and the victim or their family not receiving the compensation they deserve. Therefore, working with a seasoned Ocala medical malpractice attorney is imperative to ensure your case meets these requirements and can move forward successfully.
Are Hospitals or Medical Facilities Automatically Liable for the Actions of Their Medical Professionals?
Hospitals and other medical facilities aren’t automatically liable for every physician who commits malpractice while working in their facility. However, they are responsible for the malpractice of a medical professional who works directly for them.
In a medical malpractice claim, the hospital will typically be liable if the individual responsible was a doctor, nurse, or another employee who worked directly for the hospital. However, they are only liable if the medical professional acted within the scope of their employment when the malpractice occurred.
Most states, including Florida, have laws that make employers responsible for the acts of their employees. This also applies to hospital employees who are doctors. However, the process differs with a physician in private practice who draws their income from that practice, not from the medical facility or hospital. Hospital privileges, crucial to many medical practices, don’t make doctors hospital employees. Instead, they have permission to treat patients on the hospital premises.
Hospital administrators must evaluate and approve a physician’s hospital privileges. When a private practice doctor with hospital privileges injures a patient through medical malpractice, you might hold the doctor and the hospital liable for the resulting injuries. On the other hand, if a private practice physician commits malpractice and the hospital doesn’t share fault, you cannot hold the hospital liable.
Contact an Experienced Ocala Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or someone you know was a recent victim of medical malpractice, Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. are here for you. Our attorneys understand what it takes to win a Florida medical malpractice claim. These cases are not simple, and they require significant experience and resources. Often, patients must go up against large hospitals and facilities, and we are ready to fight against large corporate entities for your benefit.
We offer free consultations for medical malpractice victims and their families, and we can advise whether you have a viable case. Schedule your case evaluation today by contacting us online or calling (352) 377-9000.
1521 S Pine Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471
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