Florida Doctor Background Checks for Medical Malpractice
Selecting the perfect healthcare provider for yourself or a loved one can prove taxing. Everybody wants to ensure that the medical professional who is looking out for them is skilled and trustworthy. Unfortunately, the prevalence of medical malpractice leads to hundreds of thousands of patient injuries and deaths each year. The Civil Justice Resource Group indicates that:
- More than 120,000 patients are killed each year as a result of medical malpractice.
- Less than three percent of medical malpractice victims ever file claims against their physicians.
- 4.8 percent of physicians are responsible for half of all medical malpractice claims filed within the United States.
Medical malpractice isn’t just dangerous; it can be deadly. Even comparatively minor cases of neglect and malpractice can lead to life-altering injuries for patients. If you fear that a doctor may have perpetrated acts of malpractice in the past, it’s important to understand how to protect and enforce your rights.
The concept of malpractice may seem murky to a layperson. The average patient may not understand what qualifies as malpractice or how to find out whether they may be at risk. Patients need to educate themselves when it comes to avoiding medical malpractice and maintaining their personal wellbeing.
Victims of medical malpractice should understand several key concepts before they head into court. These concepts include:
- What constitutes medical malpractice?
- What are the most common varieties of medical malpractice?
- How to determine whether a care provider is facing any medical malpractice lawsuits.
- Victims’ legal rights:
- …after signing medical documentation
- …relating to time-to-file
- …and how an attorney can help
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a wide-reaching term. Within the Florida legal system, it’s used to refer to negligence carried out by a variety of medical practitioners. Doctors, surgeons, nurses, specialists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and other care providers can all face charges of medical malpractice.
An instance of professional medical negligence by one of these parties qualifies as medical malpractice if it leads to serious injury or death in the patient. A wide variety of negligent practices fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. Everything from a simple misdiagnosis to a complex pharmaceutical dosage error could result in lawsuits for care providers.
What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?
One of the most common questions that patients find themselves struggling with centers around what actually constitutes medical malpractice. Fortunately, the vast majority of medical malpractice suits fall into one of four categories, which makes it much easier for patients to understand whether their experiences might warrant a lawsuit.
Misdiagnosis can prove dangerous—and even fatal—under certain circumstances. While the public can’t expect doctors to diagnose every single patient with complete accuracy, some mistakes prove more egregious than others. AARP published statistics indicating that as many as 20 percent of patients are misdiagnosed, and with that in mind, it’s easy to see how misdiagnosis is amongst the most common physician errors.
Health problems like infections and heart disease pose unique challenges when it comes to diagnosis. Because so many of these conditions closely mirror other inflictions, doctors often misdiagnose patients. The consequences of misdiagnosis can prove catastrophic; some instances even lead to death. When physicians channel their efforts into treating the wrong condition, patients’ health suffers.
Obstetric and Gynecological Negligence
Pregnancy and delivery are incredibly laborious and dangerous undertakings. We all came from somewhere, and with the world’s population booming at an unprecedented pace, it’s not difficult to guess that obstetric and gynecological negligence rank amongst the most common forms of medical malpractice.
The processes of growing and delivering a baby leave ample room for mistakes. Even with today’s innovative medical technology and more patient-centric approaches to care, countless mothers each year fall victim to malpractice during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Unfortunately, these mothers and their children face a tremendous risk of experiencing medical malpractice.
Today, much of the malpractice that occurs surrounding pregnancy and birth begins with:
- Excessive or unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Gestational diabetes
- Placental abnormalities, including abruption, Previa, and more
- Exceptionally long or arduous labors
- Cesarean section and surgical negligence
- Premature deliveries
Negligent Prescription or Administration of Prescription Drugs
You don’t have to look far before finding headlines that cover today’s opiate crisis. The state of today’s prescription drug world stands as a shining example of how physicians display negligence when it comes to patient medication. Errors can range from prescribing an inappropriate medication altogether to giving a patient an improper dosage that affects treatment.
Medical malpractice may also concern the administration of medication. Unfortunately, this process presents numerous opportunities for error. Physicians do not create, dose, and administer medication all on their own. A medication chain that extends from doctors to nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers leaves ample room for mistakes. If one individual causes a minuscule error in one place along this chain, it could negatively impact patients.
Nobody wants to imagine something going wrong while under the knife. The unfortunate truth is that mistakes by anesthesiologists and surgeons are fairly common. Many surgery patients suffer from damaged nerves or uncontrolled bleeding as a result of surgical procedures. Others are unfortunate enough to suffer from medical instruments left inside of them.
Anesthesiologists may also administer improper dosages of anesthesia. Some patients experience over-sedation, while others are forced to suffer in silence thanks to an inadequate dose. Still, others receive improper medication and anesthesia that could harm them directly. Failing to move patients and keep pressure off of the body while under anesthesia can also lead to significant health consequences.
Other Common Sources of Malpractice
While the four varieties of negligence mentioned above are the most common causes of malpractice claims, the medical system provides plenty of other opportunities for patients’ needs to go unmet. If you’re unsure of whether something you’ve experienced qualifies as medical malpractice, consider a few other examples:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Premature discharge or inadequate discharge instructions
- Poor follow-up care and aftercare
- Hospital infections
How to Find out if Doctors Have Malpractice Suits Against Them
Curious patients have two options when it comes to tracking down past or pending malpractice suits against doctors. The first involves searching through court records and state medical board records to determine whether a suit exists (or existed). The second, while not always entirely accurate, requires a little savvy Google searching.
Check State Medical Boards and Court Records
The first step that you should take if you’re checking out a care provider is to check the official legal and medical systems. Florida, like all states, has its own medical board. Medical boards are responsible for licensing doctors and ensuring that they perform their duties within legal boundaries. These boards can also suspend or revoke licenses on an as-needed basis. You can contact the Florida licensing board directly. The Federation of State Medical Boards provides the public with a thorough list of state medical board contact information.
This process can be expedited to some degree. DocInfo, a database compiled by the Federation of State Medical Boards, serves as a sort of hub for healthcare provider information. Curious patients can access a wealth of data—including information concerning malpractice suits—on nearly one million licensed US doctors.
If you take a peek at Florida court records, you’ll also be able to find out whether a doctor has been sued. You can find much of this information online. Those who are less tech-savvy may opt to request paper copies of these records at the County Clerk’s office. Combing over court records may not turn up all of the information that you’re after, but it’s an excellent place to begin your search. You may have to perform further searches or request information to view documents related to lawsuits, but at a bare minimum, checking court records generally provides some basic insight into whether any lawsuits have been filed.
Search Through Google
This method is less reliable than checking state court records or medical board information, albeit easier. You should never blindly accept what you find on the web as the truth, but if you can locate legitimate documentation (or clues that help guide you in the right direction), a web search can prove invaluable.
If the Florida Medical Board or courts neglected to include ample information in their paperwork, Google may also help you fill in the blanks. Keep in mind that patients should always be sure to verify information that they come across on the Internet. Don’t forget to perform different searches for each state in which your doctor may have practiced.
If you’re looking to leverage the power of the search engine to assist in your hunt for the truth, try using keywords like:
- Your physician’s full name. If you have a married female physician, don’t neglect the possibility that she may have practiced under a maiden name before her marriage.
- Potential patient complaints
- “Medical malpractice suit”
Frequently Asked Questions
I signed a waiver before receiving care or undergoing a medical procedure. Can I still sue the hospital or doctor responsible for negligence?
Yes. Patients must sign waivers before many medical procedures; surgery is a good example. These sorts of practices come saddled with some inherent risk. This is why patients must sign waivers before receiving certain types of care. Waivers help doctors and other medical professionals prove that patients understood the risks of a procedure before undergoing it.
The good news for patients is that these waivers do not shield care providers from liability in the case of negligence. The contents of such waivers can influence the direction of a medical malpractice lawsuit, but do not bar patients from pursuing compensation.
How long do I have to file a claim after my care provider demonstrated neglect?
Florida residents can wait up to two years from the date of realization of injury and improper care before filing a claim or lawsuit. Patients who take two years or longer to file their claims may have a very difficult time pursuing their cases in court. Florida also mandates that patients act within the statute of repose, which means that if more than four years have passed since medical negligence occurs, you cannot file a lawsuit or claim that seeks monetary compensation.
What damages can I collect?
The types of damages that you receive depend heavily on your individual case. There’s no way to predict how much compensation you could receive in court. Factors as benign as the judge assigned to your case can actually have a serious impact on the damages that you end up collecting.
In general, victims of medical malpractice can expect an opportunity to seek compensation for:
- Past, present, and future medical bills received as a result of medical neglect
- Inconvenience associated with injuries
- Lost wages if the victim cannot (or could not) work or earn money as a result of medical neglect
- Loss of spousal support
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish to account for the physical and emotional turmoil of experiencing medical neglect
- Diminished earning capacity
Should I hire an attorney for my medical malpractice case?
Yes. The tangled web of legal issues that surrounds any case can be enough to drive a victim wild; throw in the complexities associated with the medical field, and it’s easy to see how a lawyer could benefit your efforts to pursue compensation.
Victims who have sustained injuries at the hands of negligent medical professionals deserve support throughout the legal process. If you can find a trustworthy and seasoned legal representative to act as your partner in court, you greatly increase your chances of receiving adequate compensation for your suffering. An experienced attorney will help guide you through every step of your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Did You Suffer From a Medical Error? A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Might Help
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical malpractice, don’t wait to seek compensation for your injuries. Speak with an empathetic, well-informed medical malpractice attorney today to find out whether your case could help you return to the life that you deserve. Dolman Law Group specializes in cases involving medical malpractice and has a long track record of cases that have successfully recovered settlements that our clients have been more than satisfied with. To schedule a free consultation with Dolman Law Group either contact our office at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765