Medical malpractice occurs any time a medical care provider breaches the standard of care expected in the care and treatment of a patient. When patients put their medical needs in the hands of a care provider, they expect a high standard of care and treatment.
Unfortunately, sometimes, care providers in Clearwater, whether they practice with big-name hospitals like Morton Plant Hospital or through a smaller practice like Pinellas County Primary Care and Hospitalists, may not provide the high standard of care patients both need and expect.
Take a look at these common types of medical malpractice in Clearwater.
When a patient presents with a specific set of symptoms, care providers must carefully evaluate those symptoms to better understand the patient’s condition, including likely illnesses or injuries.
A misdiagnosis error occurs when a care provider fails to evaluate those symptoms properly. Misdiagnosis can significantly impact a patient’s overall status and treatment progression for that patient. In the case of a missed diagnosis, where the care provider fails to diagnose any ailment at all, the patient might not receive any treatment for the symptoms presented. As a result, the patient’s symptoms might continue to get worse.
In other cases, the care provider might diagnose the patient’s ailment as something else entirely. In that case, the patient might receive treatment for the condition that the care provider diagnosed rather than for the ailment they have. That means the patient will have the side effects of any treatments for that other ailment but may not see any improvement in symptoms. In the meantime, the patient may also accumulate high medical bills, which can prove financially draining.
Women and minorities may have a harder time having their conditions accurately diagnosed and treated than other patients. Women may, for example, present with different symptoms than men, especially in the case of conditions like a heart attack. Doctors may also be more likely to brush women’s symptoms aside when they complain of pain.
2. Failure to Treat/Improper Treatment
Sometimes, doctors may diagnose the patient’s condition but fail, despite that clear diagnosis, to provide the treatment the patient needs.
Care providers may fail to provide treatment for several reasons.
- The patient may fall through the cracks of the system. The care provider might, for example, recommend that the patient follow up with another doctor or facility but fail to send that information through promptly.
- The doctor may believe that the patient does not need treatment. Gender bias, particularly in the case of pain management, can prove a serious problem for some women.
- The doctor may not know what treatment the patient needs for a specific condition but fail to look it up or put it into play.
Unfortunately, when a care provider fails to provide treatment for a known condition, many patients assume they do not have treatment options. They may feel discouraged and fail to pursue further treatment, even with a known diagnosis. As they continue to go without treatment, many patients will note increasing symptoms of the initial condition. Not receiving treatment on time can lead to worsened symptoms, more serious ailments, or, in some cases, death.
In other cases, Clearwater care providers may issue treatment for a known diagnosis but may deviate from the treatment others would provide for those same symptoms. Care providers may, for example, opt for a conservative treatment option when another provider might opt for aggressive treatment, or they may choose a course of treatment that does not offer the care that the patient really needs. Because of the lack of effective treatment, the patient may see worsening symptoms and a decline in overall health.
3. Failure to Warn a Patient of Known Risks
When interacting with a patient, doctors must have informed consent before moving forward with treatment. That means that a patient must fully understand both the anticipated procedure and any potential side effects of that procedure.
Sometimes, however, care providers may gloss over what a specific treatment course might mean for the patient. The care provider might, for example, fail to provide information about the possible side effects of a new medication or the likely long-term impact of surgery.
If a patient, once properly informed of the risks, would have chosen not to go through with a procedure, the doctor may have committed medical malpractice. Patients may have the right to file a medical malpractice claim if they suffer injuries from the procedure that the doctor knew could pose a risk but chose not to inform them about.
Informed consent does mean that the doctor must offer patients known information about the procedure. Rare complications can occur that the doctor could not have predicted based on current knowledge.
4. Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can pose a substantial challenge to many patients, often long after the event. During surgery, patients face extreme vulnerability and cannot advocate for themselves.
Unfortunately, surgeons can commit a number of errors that can damage the patient.
- Operating on the wrong body part. In cases where the surgeon operates on the wrong body part, it can mean further damage to the patient, including long-term disability or even death. For example, if a surgeon operates on a healthy organ rather than a diseased one, the patient might not recover from the surgery.
- Leaving surgical equipment inside the body. In most Clearwater operating rooms, surgeons take extreme care to avoid the risk of leaving equipment behind when closing the patient back up after surgery. Items left behind can cause considerable pain and raise the risk of infection.
- Behaving negligently during surgery. For example, a surgeon might puncture an organ or blood vessel during surgery, leading to substantial complications for the patient. While those errors can occur due to unavoidable accidents, sometimes, the surgeon may cause those errors due to a lack of attention to key details, including the essential details of the patient’s care.
In addition, surgeons may prove negligent when engaging in the patient’s post-operative care. After surgery, patients may need careful care and attention to ensure that they do not suffer further injuries.
Lack of care following surgery can increase the odds that patients will suffer from dangerous infections or that they will re-open their wounds. Improper care after surgery can have devastating consequences for patient health, including the risk of death.
5. Birth Injuries
Both mother and child often find themselves uniquely vulnerable during pregnancy and childbirth. During these times, physicians and care providers may need to show particular care and attention to increase the odds of the best possible outcomes. Unfortunately, sometimes, care providers may fail to provide that high level of care.
Birth injuries, or lack of care during pregnancy, may increase the odds that women will die in childbirth or that infants will suffer devastating birth injuries that can impact the entire family for the rest of the child’s life.
- Failure to properly monitor maternal and fetal health during pregnancy can increase the odds of unnoticed birth defects or fetal challenges.
- Failure to monitor maternal and fetal health, including fetal heart rate, during childbirth, can substantially increase the risk of a number of complications, including cerebral palsy or infant death.
- Surgical negligence during a C-section can cause devastating consequences to the mother and infant.
- Failure to monitor the mother after childbirth can increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
Unfortunately, some care providers may treat pregnancy and childbirth negligently, increasing the risk of dangerous complications. Those complications can increase maternal or infant mortality risk and lead to long-term health complications.
Seeking Compensation Following Clearwater Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Know
If you suffered injuries due to the negligent care of a physician in Clearwater, you might deserve compensation for those damages. Filing a medical malpractice claim may prove much more complicated than filing another type of injury claim. Having a lawyer on your side can make it much easier to clearly establish the compensation you deserve.
Who Bears Liability in Medical Malpractice Claims?
In many cases, the doctor who commits an act of medical malpractice will bear liability for any damages caused by that negligence. However, negligence can also rest with the facility where medical malpractice took place.
For example, suppose a nurse engaged in medical malpractice, from giving the wrong medication dose to failing to report a problem with the infant or mother during childbirth. In that case, you may need to pursue compensation through the facility where the malpractice occurred.
You may also need to pursue compensation through the facility where malpractice took place when the doctor who committed that act of malpractice works directly for the facility.
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine how to direct your medical malpractice claim and what gives you the best odds of a strong outcome.
How Long Do I Have to File a Clearwater Medical Malpractice Claim?
Each state sets its statutes regarding how long a patient may have to file a medical malpractice claim after sustaining an injury due to the negligence of a medical care provider.
In Florida, you have up to two years after the point at which you knew or should have known, about the medical malpractice to file a claim regarding a medical malpractice case. You may, in Florida, need to file that claim before four years from the date of the initial incident.
Some exceptions do exist to the statute of limitations. Working with a lawyer can help you determine whether your case may fall under one of those exemptions, giving you more time to move forward with a claim.
What Compensation Can I Obtain for Medical Malpractice?
The compensation you can recover for medical malpractice may depend on a number of critical factors. A lawyer can help lay out the specific compensation you may deserve for those losses.
However, most claims do include the same general elements.
- Compensation for any additional medical bills you paid as a direct result of the liable party’s negligent actions. In many cases, medical malpractice will mean substantial medical costs since you may go on to receive several other procedures or may need to seek additional treatment. Talk to your lawyer about any increased bills related to medical malpractice and how you can best put together a claim that includes compensation for them.
- Lost income. Many people find that, due to medical malpractice, they have to take time off work while they recover. Failure to diagnose, for example, could mean that the patient’s symptoms worsen considerably, which may significantly increase the time the patient has to spend out of work. Likewise, improper treatment could mean that the patient does not have a chance to recover from his injuries. Talk to your lawyer about what earnings you lost because of medical malpractice.
- Pain and suffering. In addition to the financial losses often accompanying medical malpractice, many patients go through substantial suffering. You may need to work with a lawyer to determine how you can best include compensation for that suffering, from your lost faith in medical care providers to the emotional anguish that can accompany devastating medical symptoms.
Contact a Clearwater Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you suffered medical malpractice in Clearwater, you might need a lawyer to help you learn more about your rights and guide you through the claim.
Contact a Clearwater medical malpractice lawyer to discuss the injuries you sustained, the compensation you deserve, and how you can best protect your rights following clear negligence by a medical care provider.