As a Stuart medical malpractice law firm, we know that medical malpractice is a serious and growing concern everywhere in the United States and especially here in Florida. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine told us that nearly 100,000 people die every year in hospitals in the U.S. due to preventable medical mistakes.
The malpractice problem is now even more of a concern. Johns Hopkins University released research in 2016 which indicates that over 250,000 deaths annually in the U.S. are the result of medical errors. That means medical malpractice is the number three cause of death in this nation.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?
If you’ve been injured while you were obtaining medical care in Florida, and if you sue for medical malpractice, you and your lawyer must prove that the healthcare professional or medical facility that provided your treatment was negligent.
What is medical negligence? Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional or a medical facility fails to provide the generally-accepted, professional medical standard of care.
This standard of care is the level and type of care that a typical medical professional with similar experience and training would provide in a comparable situation. If the provider or facility that treated you did not provide this standard, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.
WHAT STANDARD OF CARE SHOULD MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS PROVIDE?
Medical providers in Florida are professionally and legally obligated to provide patients with a “reasonable” standard of care – competent, professional healthcare similar to what other medical professionals provide in comparable situations. Specifically, medical providers should:
1. order the medical tests that are routine and standard for the patient’s condition
2. promptly review and examine the test results
3. consult with a specialist – or send the patient to a specialist – when necessary
DOES NEGLIGENCE ALWAYS MEAN THAT MALPRACTICE HAS OCCURRED?
When medical professionals fail to provide their patients with a reasonable standard of care, those medical professionals are in fact negligent, but that does not necessarily mean that an incident of medical malpractice has occurred.
Medical negligence becomes medical malpractice only when a healthcare provider’s negligence is a direct cause of a patient’s injury or harm.
In a worst-case scenario, when a patient’s medical care and treatment falls below the accepted professional standard, medical malpractice can occur, and the patient could be severely injured or suffer a swift, dangerous decline in his or her health.
Every incident of medical malpractice is unique, and every charge of medical malpractice has to be scrutinized meticulously from both the legal and medical perspectives.
HOW CAN A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAW FIRM HELP?
If malpractice by a healthcare professional has caused you harm or injury, or if your health declined due to an incident of medical malpractice, you are entitled by the law in every state to financial compensation, and you can take legal action to obtain that compensation.
In Florida, if you know or believe that you are a medical malpractice victim, discuss your rights and legal options immediately with an experienced Stuart medical malpractice attorney. Do not wait even one more day.
CAN AN EXPERT WITNESS HELP YOU?
For you and your attorney to prove that a medical professional or a healthcare facility did not provide the accepted standard of care, your attorney may recommend working with a medical authority who can serve as an expert witness on your behalf.
As your expert witness in a medical malpractice case, a medical authority can:
1. explain what the accepted standard of care is for the illness or injury you suffered
2. provide testimony that explains how your treatment did not meet the standard of care
3. explain how you were injured by negligent medical treatment
WHAT ARE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VICTIMS ENTITLED TO BY LAW?
If you and your attorney prove that a medical professional or facility failed to provide the accepted standard of care, and if you were injured because of that failure, you are entitled under Florida law to compensation for:
1. your additional medical expenses arising from the malpractice incident
2. wages lost because of work you missed due to the malpractice incident
3. your lost earning capacity, meaning “future” lost wages
4. your pain and suffering based on the extent and duration of the malpractice-related injury
5. all additional accident-and-injury related losses and damages
IS THERE ANY WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
You may not be able to avoid medical malpractice – it’s far too widespread – but you can protect yourself to some extent by asking your healthcare providers plenty of questions and settling for nothing less than detailed, comprehensive answers.
You must be treated by doctors and nurses you trust. Ask plenty of questions and make sure that you get the right answers. Don’t allow anyone to intimidate you, dismiss you, or “give you the brush-off.” It’s your health – and no one else’s – that is being discussed.
If you are a medical malpractice victim, it is imperative for you to take effective legal action – both for yourself and for others in the future. Be aware, however, that every state has a statute of limitations restricting the time you have to take legal action after a medical malpractice incident.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION?
In Florida, unless a medical malpractice case involves fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is four years. You cannot wait four years before taking action. Don’t even wait four weeks.
If you believe that you are a medical malpractice victim in central or south Florida, speak at once with an experienced Stuart medical malpractice attorney. If you wait, evidence deteriorates, witnesses forget details, and you may not ultimately prevail with your malpractice claim.
The sooner you put a good malpractice attorney on the case, the more likely you are to prevail with your claim and to win the complete compensation amount that you’ll need and deserve.
The injured victims of medical negligence in Florida have the right to a good attorney’s help, but it’s up to you to exercise that right, take the first step, and make the call to an attorney who will fight aggressively for your rights. Your health and future may even depend on it.