We trust medical professionals to consistently give us the best possible health care. Unfortunately, however, they don’t always do so. When something goes wrong, a mistake caused by a negligent medical professional can have serious consequences. In fact, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and Florida is no exception. If you were injured while under the care of a medical professional, contact us to speak to a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional makes a serious and inexcusable error while providing medical services to a patient. Generally, if you have suffered harm due to the negligent actions of a medical professional, you may have a legal claim for medical malpractice against him or her. As we explain below, there are several kinds of medical malpractice, each of which can have life-changing consequences.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose: When a medical professional provides a patient with an incorrect diagnosis or fails to diagnose an existing condition, this may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This type of medical malpractice may include a diagnosis that was significantly delayed, misinterpreted lab test results, or the failure of a medical professional to appropriately refer a patient to a specialist.
Surgical errors: Common surgical errors include the use of improper sterilization techniques, issues related to patient prep, performing the wrong surgical procedure, and other improper care that may lead to issues such as blood clots or infection.
Failure to follow proper procedures: The failure of medical professionals to follow proper procedures can lead to patient injuries. Examples of this type of medical malpractice include not having a backup medical professional on call, prematurely discharging a patient from the hospital, failing to follow up with test results, and failing to provide a patient with proper instructions.
Birth-related injuries: Mistakes during birth by doctors and other medical professionals may result in injuries. Examples include inadequately assessing a baby while still in the womb, failing to perform a C-section, and improperly using forceps.
Defective medical devices: Medical malpractice isn’t limited only to mistakes made by doctors and other health care providers—the manufacturers of medical devices can also face liability when their defective products result in patient injuries.
Nursing home neglect or abuse: The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 requires all nursing homes to provide residents with the highest practicable degree of care. Unfortunately, however, they don’t always fulfill this legal duty. Unsanitary living conditions, lack of response to calls for help, inadequate nutrition, failure to reposition bedridden residents, lack of staff, and inadequate supervision are all common types of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Medication errors: Medication errors can be made by health care providers, pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Examples of medication errors include prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing the wrong dosage, and incorrectly labeling a medication.
Ineffective or delayed treatments: Medical professionals are expected to adhere to the appropriate medical standard of care when providing treatment to patients. The appropriate standard of care in a given situation is the level and type of care that a reasonably skilled and competent health care professional would have provided under similar circumstances. Ineffective or delayed treatments constitute deviations from the medical standard of care, and may provide grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Emergency room malpractice: Emergency room personnel must routinely work under stressful, trying circumstances. However, they still must adhere to the appropriate medical standard of care for emergency room workers. Failure to do so may constitute medical malpractice and may result in a lawsuit.
Failure to properly monitor patients: Health care providers must monitor their patients during and after surgery to prevent complications. When they fail to do so, they risk the well-being of their patients.
Healthcare facility or hospital errors: Examples of this type of medical malpractice include incorrect diagnosis, improper prescriptions, and failure to obtain informed consent.
Negligent abandonment of a patient: If a health care provider refuses to provide care for his or her patient, and this refusal results in harm to the patient, the medical professional may be found liable for medical malpractice.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Proving medical malpractice without an attorney can be extremely difficult. If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side. To prove medical malpractice, your lawyer must establish the following:
You had a provider-patient relationship: The first thing your malpractice attorney must prove is that you had a provider-patient relationship. To do this, your attorney must provide evidence that you were under the care of the medical professional you are seeking to sue at the time you suffered your injury.
Your health care provider was negligent: Next, your attorney must prove that your health care provider was negligent. Usually, proving this requires an expert to provide testimony on the applicable medical standard of care in your case.
Your health care provider’s negligence resulted in injury: Even if your health care provider was negligent, he or she can’t be held liable for medical malpractice unless your attorney can prove that a link exists between his or her negligence and your injury. Therefore, your attorney must prove that your health care provider’s negligence resulted in injury.
The injury resulted in damages: Finally, your attorney must prove that your injury resulted in damages. Damages are a monetary award paid to a claimant in a lawsuit as compensation for loss or injury. Examples of medical malpractice damages include:
- Medical bills
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Past and future lost wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Punitive damages
How a Malpractice Attorney Can Help
Although it can be difficult to prove medical malpractice, your odds of success greatly improve when you hire an experienced lawyer to represent you in your medical malpractice case. When you work with a medical malpractice attorney, he or she will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of your injuries. After gathering the necessary evidence, your attorney will vigorously pursue financial compensation on your behalf.
Tips for Choosing a Malpractice Attorney
Although it’s imperative that you hire an attorney if you’ve suffered harm at the hands of a medical professional, not just any attorney will do. Rather, the attorney you choose must possess the attributes necessary to give you the best odds of a successful outcome. Below are some things to look for when choosing an attorney:
Specialization: When choosing a malpractice attorney, you first must ensure that he or she specializes in the area of medical malpractice. Although this doesn’t mean that the attorney you choose must only practice in this area, he or she should devote a significant amount of his or her time to handling medical malpractice cases.
Results: Although attorneys should never guarantee a specific result in your case, they are permitted to share their past results with potential clients. In fact, a successful attorney will be eager to share this information with you. When searching for a lawyer to handle your medical malpractice case, you should hire someone with a proven track record of success in the area of medical malpractice.
Price: For most people, when it comes to hiring an attorney, price matters, so you should certainly take cost into consideration when determining who you will hire to represent you in your malpractice lawsuit. Specifically, you should determine your prospective attorney’s preferred method of billing. It’s common for malpractice lawyers to work on a contingency basis. Make sure you are clear on this prior to making your final decision.
What to Do Before You Hire an Attorney
Before you hire an attorney to represent you in your medical malpractice lawsuit, you should gather as much information as possible to allow him or her to properly evaluate your case. Examples of the types of evidence you should gather are medical records from the hospital, signed waivers, documents from your insurance company, and any bills related to your injuries.
Contact the Malpractice Attorneys at Harrell & Harrell
If you’ve been injured at the hands of a healthcare provider, Harrell & Harrell, P.A., is here to help. Our medical malpractice lawyers specialize in personal injury and medical malpractice, so we are well qualified to evaluate the critical elements of your case and proceed appropriately. If you suspect medical malpractice, please contact us for a free, no obligation consultation with a medical malpractice attorney. To get started, contact us online or at 800-251-1111.