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 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.
If you believe medical malpractice was responsible for your harm, you may want to work with a New Port Richey medical malpractice lawyer at Dolman Law Group. We can discuss your legal options in a free case review.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
If a New Port Richey doctor, hospital, or other health professional is negligent performing their 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 acknowledged 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.
How Common Is Medical Malpractice?
The patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins University estimate that medical errors cause over 250,000 deaths each year. They further claim that medical error is the third-highest cause of death in the U.S. Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law, and many New Port Richey residents enlist a legal advocate to help them hold negligent practitioners accountable.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one in every ten patients suffers harm while receiving hospital care in high-income countries. Nearly 50 percent of this harm is preventable.
However, not every medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice. A New Port Richey personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group can investigate and determine whether your situation qualifies you to pursue a legal claim.
Possible 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 various ways, including errors in treatment, health management, or aftercare. Some of the possible 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, Modern Healthcare reports 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 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.
According to StatPearls, over 4,000 surgical errors occur in the U.S. each year. Modern Healthcare reports that surgical errors are 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 in 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
StatPearls estimates 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 higher rate of medical malpractice suits 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 plexus birth injuries
- Erb's palsy
- Cervical dystonia
- Caput succedaneum
- Fetal asphyxiation
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Fracture of the clavicle or collarbones
- Other types of nerve damage
Maternal birth injuries include:
- Uterine rupture
- Pelvic prolapse
- Postpartum depression
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Postpartum anxiety
- Vaginal tearing
- Anal fissures
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. Many patients urgently need attention. There may be errors in laboratory tests, diagnoses, and treatment. In some cases, doctors send patients home when they should have admitted them to the hospital.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are infections that patients get while undergoing surgery or receiving medical treatment. According to the Florida Department of Health, one in 25 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 result from surgical negligence, inadequate post-operative care, or other open wound negligence.
Who Is Responsible for Your 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. However, other responsible parties may include nurses, psychiatrists, osteopaths, chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, midwives, pediatricians, obstetricians, nursing assistants, pharmacists, optometrists, etc.
There may also be a liability on the part of healthcare providers whom 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 their care.
Hospital Liability for Medical Malpractice in New Port Richey
New Port Richey hospitals can be held directly responsible for their negligence, as well. They may be liable for failing to properly perform diagnostic tests, keeping inadequate medical records, not admitting and discharging patients correctly, or 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, national origin, or their inability to pay for treatment. Hospitals may also be vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, which means the hospital may not have committed negligence, but it is responsible for an employee's negligence.
In some cases, healthcare providers, such as doctors, are independent contractors, rather than hospital employees. In those situations, if the doctor commits malpractice while providing medical treatment to a patient in the hospital, the hospital is likely 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 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
- Resulting damages
Your New Port Richey medical malpractice attorney will be tasked with showing that the healthcare provider in question owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care in some way. This breach in their duty of care must have caused you an injury or illness that resulted in you suffering considerable damages.
To prove that negligence occurred, your attorney must be able to show that the healthcare provider in question failed to uphold the medical standard of care. This means they made a medical decision or error that another healthcare provider of similar education, training, and experience would not have made.
Florida Statute of Limitations
All states have time limits for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. Generally, for medical malpractice cases in Florida, the injured party must file a lawsuit within two years under Florida Statutes § 95.11. This will typically be two years from when the patient (or sometimes a parent, guardian, or another family member) knew (or should reasonably have known) that the injury had occurred and there was a reasonable possibility that medical malpractice caused the harm.
However, the exact time when the statute of limitations expires for your case can vary based on when the accident occurred and when you were subsequently diagnosed with injuries relating to the incident in question.
The Statute of Repose
There is another limitation on Florida medical malpractice claims. It is known as the statute of repose. This law states that unless you uncover 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 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. We can ensure you don't let the statute of limitations pass. If it already has, we may find a way to invoke the statute of repose or find another exception.
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 frivolous lawsuits. If the plaintiff does not strictly follow these requirements, the lawsuit may be disallowed. A simplified explanation of 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 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, submit 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 how 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 will die or move away, and 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 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 (Florida Statutes § 766.118). 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.
Some of the possible types of non-economic damages you could collect in your New Port Richey medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of household services
- Reputational damage
- Skin scarring and disfigurement
Florida also places a $500,000 cap on punitive damages (Florida Statutes § 768.73). Courts only award punitive damages if the healthcare professional committed gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing and the civil court system wants to punish the defendant by imposing additional sanctions beyond your compensatory economic and non-economic damages. They are designed to send a message to the public that Florida civil courts will not tolerate actions of this nature.
Contact Dolman Law Group for a Free Consultation Today
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 as a result, you may want to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Our compassionate 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 at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.
New Port Richey Office
5924 Main St
New Port Richey, FL 34652