Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice spans a very broad range, including improper medical care, injuries and compensable damages. It could involve a nick from a surgeon’s knife that causes a minor injury or the amputation of the wrong limb of a patient. It might also entail a physician’s failure to diagnose cancer, or it may involve ordering the wrong tests to determine whether a patient has an autoimmune disorder. Contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, P.A. to see if you may have a cause of action against your doctor or hospital for injuries stemming from your care or treatment.
Simply put, medical malpractice is when a medical professional’s negligence causes an injury to a patient. This can happen anywhere that professional medical care is given — a hospital, urgent care facility, medical office, or even at a pharmacy.
It’s important to note that just because a medical procedure or surgery failed to have a positive outcome or the outcome you anticipated, that does not mean that you have a medical malpractice case. To have a valid claim, there must be negligence and other legal elements. If your injuries or health condition is a result of a doctor’s error or poor judgment, you may have a basis for legal action.
Specifically, healthcare providers must offer a standard of care that other medical professionals in their field would reasonably be able to render. When medical professionals fail to meet this standard of care, it can put patients at serious risk of harm.
Common Medical Mistakes Resulting in Malpractice
The following are common medical mistakes that often result in medical malpractice:
Misdiagnosis – Failure to diagnose an illness is a common medical mistake. The most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are stroke, cancer and heart attacks. The failure to properly diagnose life-threatening conditions can have devastating consequences and cause catastrophic injuries.
Surgical Errors – More frequently than you might expect, surgical teams leave tools or sponges inside the body during surgery, or they operate on the wrong body part.
Failure to treat – This error occurs when the doctor correctly diagnoses a condition but fails to treat it in accordance with the acceptable standard of care for that condition. Lack of follow-up care or discharging a patient too soon can make conditions worse and lead to injuries.
Birth injuries – Many medical malpractice claims are against OB/GYNs for childbirth-related medical mistakes. Those mistakes can result in serious conditions, such as shoulder dystocia, spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy.
Prescription drug errors – Medical malpractice can occur when doctors make errors in prescribing the wrong medication and provide incorrect dosing and administration instructions of prescription drugs. Other drug errors include prescribing drugs that have negative interactions with each other.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
In Florida, there are four basic elements to a medical malpractice case. These are duty, breach, causation and damage.
“Duty” means that the medical professional has a relationship with the plaintiff (i.e., the harmed patient) and therefore owes him or her a duty to act appropriately. The duty of the medical professional is to act within the standard of care.
“Breach” means that the medical professional violated the duty owed to the patient — that is, he or she did not act within the requisite standard of care.
“Causation” means that the doctor or other healthcare professional caused or contributed to the patient’s harm.
“Damages” means that, because of the doctor’s failure to meet the standard of care, the patient suffered harm.
How Soon Must You File a Lawsuit?
In Florida, the statute of limitations period is currently two years after the injury occurred or after you should have noticed the injury. Sometimes, a patient doesn’t learn about an injury until several years after it occurred, which may happen when a doctor leaves a sponge, gauze, surgical instruments, broken screws or other items inside a body cavity. If there is a delay in discovery of malpractice, the patient may have four years to pursue a case under limited circumstances.
Florida law does have a “fraud” exception to the statute of limitations. If there is fraud or any attempt by the medical professional to conceal or intentionally misrepresent any facts related to the injury, the period of limitations is extended to two years from the time it is discovered. Please note that in cases involving minor children under the age of eight, the statute of limitations may be longer, and the lawsuit may be brought before their eighth birthday.
What Damages Can You Recover?
Florida medical malpractice damages are calculated by a jury. The injured party’s lawyer presents his or her economic and non-economic damages and suggests an amount they think should be awarded in the case. After hearing from both sides, the jurors will decide the amount of damages, if any, that the injured individual is to be awarded.
Successful medical malpractice claimants in Florida can obtain economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover past, present, and future medical charges as well as lost wages if the patient’s injuries prevent him or her from working. Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, including mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and disfigurement. Non-economic damages are often abstract and difficult to quantify, but an experienced Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, P.A. may be able to help a jury come to a reasonable amount of damages to consider.
Each case is different though, and the potential damages are case-dependent and must be evaluated carefully.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorney at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, P.A.
If you believe that your doctor engaged in medical malpractice that caused injury to you or your loved one, contact us today.