When we are ill or in pain, we seek medical care, assuming that New Port Richey healthcare professionals at places like Medical Center of Trinity-Behavioral Health, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care Pasco, or Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care Pasco will properly diagnose and treat the problem. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Instances of medical malpractice are more common than you might think.
The patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins University estimate that medical errors caused over 250,000 deaths each year. They further stated that medical error is the third highest cause of death in the U.S. In high-income countries.
Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law, and New Port Richey residents need an experienced advocate to hold negligent practitioners accountable. If you believe medical malpractice was responsible for your harm, you should contact an experienced New Port Richey medical malpractice lawyer at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Researchers estimate that one in every ten patients suffers harm while receiving hospital care. Nearly 50 percent of the harm is preventable. Not every mistake, however, constitutes medical malpractice. You will want a New Port Richey personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman to investigate and determine whether your situation rises to the level where you can pursue a legal claim.
If a New Port Richey doctor, hospital, or other health professional is negligent in the performance of his or her duties and thereby causes an injury to a patient, the act or failure to act may be considered medical malpractice. We expect healthcare professionals to meet the accepted standard of care.
The meaning of the term “accepted standard of care” is often discussed in the legal and medical communities. The accepted standard of care is the generally accepted practice used to treat patients suffering from a particular illness or injury. The accepted standard of care depends on many factors, such as medical history, age, and general health.
Common Types of New Port Richey Medical Malpractice
Despite the devastating consequences, some malpractice victims don’t seek compensation. They may not even be sure if medical malpractice occurred in their specific situation. Medical errors happen in all kinds of ways, including errors in treatment, health management, or aftercare. Some of the most common types of malpractice include:
Misdiagnosis or Failure To Diagnose
Many medical malpractice lawsuits arise from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of an illness, injury, or medical condition. In fact, studies show that in a four-year span, diagnostic errors were the largest source of medical malpractice claims. It can be difficult to diagnose a condition accurately because some symptoms are hard to recognize or look like the same as symptoms of another illness. But without an accurate diagnosis, the patient may receive the wrong treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all. Incorrect or unnecessary treatments can also leave the patient with huge medical bills.
Over 4,000 surgical errors occur each year. Surgical errors were the second most common medical malpractice claim.
There is some degree of risk in all surgeries, but common errors include:
- Injuring a nerve during surgery
- Injuring an organ that was not supposed to be part of the procedure
- An anesthesia error, such as administering too much or too little medication
- Performing a surgical procedure or incision at the wrong location
- Leaving a piece of surgical equipment (such as sponges or instruments), inside a patient
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Operating on the wrong patient
Studies estimate that 7,000 to 9,000 patients die every year from medication errors, such as:
- Prescribing the wrong medication.
- Failing to include a necessary part of the prescription.
- Telling the patient to take the prescription at the wrong time of day.
- Giving the improper dose of medication.
- Failing to check whether the patient is allergic to that medication.
- Failing to check whether there are other medications the patient takes that could interact with the prescribed drug.
- Transcribing the prescription incorrectly.
OBGYNs have a high rate of medical malpractice suits—more than any other type of doctor. Childbirth errors can affect both the mother and infant. Injuries may be sustained during pregnancy, in the course of delivery, or just after delivery, including injuries caused by trauma (such as nerve damage or broken bones.) Common birth injuries include bruising or forceps marks, cerebral palsy, facial paralysis, brachial palsy, cervical dystonia, fracture of the clavicle or collarbones, and other types of nerve damage.
Anesthesia can be dangerous if the anesthesiologist administers the wrong type or dosage, or fails to monitor the patient properly. These problems don’t arise only in the operating room.
They can happen in recovery rooms or while sedating a patient for dental or outpatient procedures.
- Emergency room errors. A visit to the emergency room is a high-stress situation for both the patient and the medical professionals. Often, many patients urgently need attention. There may be errors in laboratory tests, diagnosis, and treatment. In some cases, doctors send patients home when they should have admitted the patient to the hospital.
- Infections. Hospital-acquired infections, or HAI, are infections that patients get while undergoing surgery or receiving medical treatment. According to the Florida Department of Health, one in twenty-five hospital patients has a healthcare-associated infection. Healthcare professionals use many precautions to minimize the chance of infection, but infections still occur. These infections may be the result of surgical negligence, inadequate post-operative care, or other open wound negligence.
Who Is Responsible for My New Port Richey Medical Malpractice Injuries?
Many health care professionals’ actions can constitute medical malpractice. Most people think of medical malpractice only in terms of doctors and surgeons. But other responsible parties may include nurses, psychiatrists, osteopaths, chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, and others. There may also be a liability on the part of health care providers that the patient never directly encountered. For example, a radiologist who misread a biopsy or X-ray may be responsible, even though the patient did not know of that person’s involvement in his or her care.
New Port Richey hospitals can be held directly responsible for their own negligence as well. They may be liable for failing to properly perform diagnostic tests, keeping inadequate medical records, not admitting and discharging patients correctly, and generally failing to protect patients from harm. Regarding hospital admissions, under federal and state statutes, hospitals may not refuse to treat or admit people based on their race, color, religion, or national origin, or on their inability to pay for treatment.
Hospitals may also be vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, which means they may not have committed the negligence, but they are responsible for another’s negligence. In some cases, health care providers, such as doctors, are independent contractors, rather than employees of the hospital.
In those situations, if the doctor commits malpractice while providing medical treatment to a patient in the hospital, the hospital is not liable for the doctor’s malpractice. However, the hospital may be liable if it grants attending privileges to a doctor who is incompetent or unlicensed.
The hospital must make reasonable inquiries regarding a prospective employee’s education, training, and licensing. The hospital must also make sure that there are enough qualified nurses on duty at all times to care for the patients.
Legal Elements of Medical Malpractice
The injured person must show that the medical professional was negligent and that the negligence resulted in an injury.
To do that, they must show the elements of medical malpractice:
- A professional duty owed to the patient;
- Breach of such duty;
- Injury caused by the breach; and
- Resulting damages.
Florida Statute of Limitations
All states have time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. For medical malpractice cases in Florida, the injured party must file a lawsuit within two years from when the patient (or sometimes a parent, guardian, or other family member) either knew, (or should reasonably have known) that the injury had occurred and there was a reasonable possibility that medical malpractice caused the harm.
There is another limitation on Florida medical malpractice claims. It is known as the statute of repose, which states that unless there you find fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation, you cannot sue healthcare providers for medical malpractice more than four years after the malpractice incident occurs.
This is a harsh rule because even if the patient or family member does not know about the malpractice and could not reasonably find out about it, the law bars the injured party from bringing a claim more if the malpractice happened more than four years ago. However, if the injured person can prove fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation by the medical professional, the four-year statute of repose may be extended to seven-years.
Call us right away to make sure you don’t let the statute of limitations pass—and if it has, call us anyway to see if we can find a way to invoke the statute of repose.
Florida Notice and Expert Requirements
According to Florida Statutes 766.106, a plaintiff (the party bringing the suit) must comply with certain procedural requirements. These requirements may seem burdensome, but the purpose is to weed out the frivolous lawsuits. If the plaintiff does not strictly follow the requirements, the lawsuit may be disallowed.
A simplified explanation of the pre-suit requirements is below:
- The attorney must first investigate to verify that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a medical professional was negligent and that the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant;
- The attorney must gather the medical records from health care providers and review these documents;
- A medical expert who is a “similar health care provider” must review the records;
- The expert must prepare and sign a “verified written medical expert opinion.” This is an affidavit in which a doctor swears they have reviewed the records and in their expert opinion, there are reasonable grounds to proceed with the case;
- The attorney must then file a “Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence.” This document lists the prospective plaintiffs and defendants. It also includes a summary of the claim and injury. The expert affidavit must be attached. Each prospective defendant must receive a copy of the notice.
- Then, there is a 90-day pre-suit investigation period. During this period, the parties gather evidence. They may exchange written questions called interrogatories, requests for documents and items, and take statements.
- At or before the end of the 90 days, the prospective defendant can either reject the claim, offer a settlement, or make an offer to arbitrate. If the prospective defendant chooses arbitration, they admit liability and the arbitration only deals with the issue of damages.
How Long Will Your New Port Richey Medical Malpractice Case Take?
As a general rule, medical malpractice suits can take some time to conclude. Expert witnesses with the necessary medical knowledge must explain the way(s) in which the defendant failed to meet the standard of care. Often you will not deal directly with the healthcare provider, but rather with a Florida malpractice insurance carrier. Doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies are not in a hurry to move the case along. They tend to fight charges of medical malpractice vigorously. Also, the longer the case is delayed, the more likely it is that key witnesses die or move away and that the plaintiff may get worn out by the process and quit or accept less compensation than they deserve.
If we represent you in your New Port Richey medical malpractice case, we will work hard to move your claim through the legal process as efficiently as possible without sacrificing the compensation you need to pay for your recovery.
Florida Medical Malpractice Damages
Injured patients usually file lawsuits for several reasons. Sometimes they just want to know how and why the injury happened. They may also wish to prevent a similar error from happening again. However, most people need financial compensation to make up for their economic losses, pain, and suffering, and to provide financial support for an uncertain future.
Losses may include medical expenses, future medical care, rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of future earnings, reduced quality of life, and other losses. In Florida, there are caps placed on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are those that compensate an injured patient for pain and suffering. The cap on total non-economic damages in Florida is $1 million. Florida also places a cap on punitive damages. Courts only award punitive damages if the healthcare professional committed gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.
Were You Injured as a Result of Medical Malpractice in New Port Richey?
Medical malpractice can potentially leave you with a lifetime of pain, disability, and medical bills. If a New Port Richey doctor, nurse, medical technician, pharmacist, hospital administrator, or other healthcare professional has committed negligence, and you have been harmed, you need to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Our compassionate, experienced New Port Richey medical malpractice lawyers work zealously to protect our clients’ rights and obtain the best possible outcome.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can contact us online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA – New Port Richey Office
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL
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