Medical malpractice is a specific form of legal negligence. It carries the potential to cause more severe and long-lasting damage than other sorts of negligence. When a medical professional provides substandard treatment, Florida law protects the patient's right to be compensated for the losses she has sustained. Surviving family members also have legal rights when bad medical treatment causes the death of a patient. Trust the medical malpractice attorneys at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to guide you through this difficult time. They have over 46 years of experience in negotiating and litigating medical malpractice cases across southern Florida.
Medical malpractice is alarmingly common across the country. Forbes reports that it is the third-leading cause of death in the United States (behind only cancer and heart disease). And in 2012, more than $3 billion was spent on medical malpractice payments. These concerning statistics raise important questions about the various costs created by medical malpractice, and what can be done to avoid medical errors altogether.
The Many Costs Associated With Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can be some of the most harmful of all medical errors. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association identified a series of medical malpractice cases against surgical residents. Of all the identified cases, 77% resulted in death or permanent disability to the patient. Often, surgical error requires further surgery in order to be corrected. This, again, subjects a patient to all the risks associated with anesthesia, prolonged hospital stays infection and other surgical risks. It also exposes a patient to the risk of further medical malpractice during the recovery period. The law protects a patient's right to be compensated for being exposed to these risks.
Once the patient is finally out of the hospital, there are many other costs that are incurred as a result of the surgical error. Follow-up appointments and continued medical care can continue for years. Patients can miss extended periods of work as the direct result of a surgical error, and this can result in significant amounts of lost wages. And worse yet, some surgical errors cannot be corrected. An improperly amputated limb will be gone forever, and the patient is simply forced to live with the financial and emotional losses that an amputation entails. Occupational therapy, modified vehicles, and other costly treatments, accommodations or assistive devices may become necessary, simply to allow the patient to go about her daily life.
Worst of all are those surgical errors that result in death. According to Forbes, approximately 200,000 patients are killed every year by medical errors. In that tragic circumstance, the patient's family and estate have a legal right to sue negligent medical practitioners for wrongful death. Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes provides for wrongful death actions governed by Florida law. Sections 16 through 26 (collectively, the Florida Wrongful Death Act) make provisions for who may sue, what types of compensation are available, protection of minor and incompetent plaintiffs, attorneys' fees, and other technical aspects of a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death awards compensate family members for all the costs associated with a family member's unexpected death. Funeral expenses, lost wages and future earning capacity, loss of spousal companionship or parental guidance, and other such losses are all subject to compensation.
The Risks of Continued Hospitalization
It is well documented that patients in hospitals face medical risks simply as a result of being there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 infections acquired in United States hospitals. About 75,000 of these patients (more than one out of ten) died from their infections. Patients also face the risk of continued medical malpractice. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports on a study that examined red blood cell transfusions in 450 inpatient cases. Of these, less than 12% were deemed to have been appropriate, based upon the patient's hemoglobin level and other factors.
How Patients and Families Should Respond to Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that you or a family member has been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Important legal rights can be lost if a claim is not filed in time. These rights can also be affected by statements made to the treating physician, hospital administrators, or anyone else involved with the medical provider. An experienced attorney will ensure that your rights are not impaired by any statements or actions.
It is also important to examine the current medical treatment being provided. Is the patient continuing to receive care from a physician who has made an error, or failed to meet a basic standard of care? Is the patient still confined to a facility that committed errors, or has a history of abuse or neglect of patients? Patients and family members must ensure that any ongoing treatment is both appropriate and provided by competent medical professionals. Do not hesitate to seek out second or third or even fourth opinions in the quest to obtain appropriate medical care.
One of the most effective actions family members can take is to become active participants in the patient's treatment process. Ask questions about the chosen course of treatment. Speak up if anything does not seem right. Don't assume that doctors are infallible, or that you are not entitled to ask about the process. Too often patients and family members are scared of being considered rude or “high maintenance.” Yet asking probing questions and seeking clarifications can make the difference between life and death when one is suffering from a rapidly developing medical condition.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Who Will Aggressively Pursue Your Case
It is important that individuals and companies responsible for substandard medical care are held responsible for their conduct. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has over 46 years of experience in negotiating and litigating medical malpractice cases in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney today. Injury victims across southern Florida trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal expertise, and superior customer service.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, Florida 33765 727-451-6900