Medical professionals serve an important function in society: to heal the injured and care for the sick. We place our trust in doctors, nurses and hospitals and, in return we expect quality care. When this trust is violated, the results can be catastrophic. Inattention, understaffing and carelessness often result in medical errors — with the patient paying the price. In fact, a study in The Journal of Health Affairs found that nearly a third of all hospital patients annually fall victim to some type of medical mistake. These errors range from minor and easily corrected to critical and life-threatening.
Not all adverse medical outcomes are “malpractice,” however sometimes patients suffer “known complications” of treatment or fail to respond as expected, through no fault of the medical professional. Knowing the difference between a bad outcome and malpractice is the key to taking steps to file a lawsuit and proceeding with a Florida medical negligence case.
“Medical malpractice” is when a health care professional or facility does something they should not have, or fails to do something they should have, resulting in injury to the patient. Medical errors can occur in a broad range of situations, resulting from various causes. Therefore, patients considering legal action for medical negligence should consider the following criteria.
Did the provider fail to meet the “standard of care?”
There are recognized standards of care to which all medical professionals must adhere. These standards are set by the medical profession and, in order to proceed with a claim for medical negligence in Florida, the patient must first obtain written expert corroboration of medical negligence. In other words, a patient must have written verification that medical malpractice has occurred, before a lawsuit for malpractice can be filed.
Did the “deviation from the standard of care” cause damage or injury?
We have all heard the saying, “no harm, no foul,” and this saying applies in the context of medical errors. Situations arise where a medical professional fails to meet the “standard of care” to which a patient in entitled but, thankfully, there is little or no resulting harm. Common examples: doctors and nurses with a “bad bedside manner,” who are rude or insensitive in delivering medical “care.” While such encounters are unfortunate and unpleasant, where there is no resulting harm, there is no medical negligence case.
Do the damaging consequences justify legal action?
Lawsuits for medical malpractice are lengthy and expensive. Because all legal fees and costs are typically paid from the settlement or verdict that the patient ultimately recovers, the “damages” (medical expenses, loss of wages/earning and loss of enjoyment) caused by the medical negligence must be significant enough to justify litigating the case for several years.
Determining whether or not you have a valid malpractice case and are entitled to compensation is challenging. It is best to work with a knowledgeable attorney, such as those at The Fernandez Firm, to answer these crucial questions. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case from the perspective gained over decades of experience to determine the best course of action for you.