Medical errors injure millions of Americans each year, sometimes with serious consequences. Some estimations, like this study published in the BMJ, suggest that medical error are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. This number is relatively difficult to measure since transparent information about errors is not recorded on death certificates, which is what the top statistics collectors like the CDC use for ranking. For example, a death certificate might list the cause of death as infection, instead of infection caused by surgeon error.
These frightening statistics should make this subject a top priority among legal and medical professionals. Likewise, those healthcare professionals whose negligence or errors lead to injury or death should be held accountable, whether or not their actions were intentional or purely accidental. Contact a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney for your medical malpractice legal questions.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a form of professional negligence that involves a medical professional or hospital deviating from the accepted standard of care. These types of cases differ from ordinary personal injury cases in that the standard against which a medical professional is judged takes into account the standards accepted by the profession rather than the general standard of a “reasonable person.”
As a result, expert witnesses are often indispensable in medical malpractice cases in order to educate the judge and jury on what the appropriate standard of care should be.
It’s important for people who have been injured in a medical setting to understand that not all medical errors rise to the level of medical malpractice. If a physician or other medical professional makes a mistake, but that mistake is deemed to be a reasonable mistake in light of the circumstances, it’s possible that a patient injured by this mistake would not be able to recover compensation for their damages.
The most effective way to determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim after sustaining an injury while receiving medical treatment is to have your case evaluated by an experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call the Dolman Law Group today at (727) 451-6900.
What are some common examples of medical malpractice?
There are many potential scenarios that could lead to an injury that gives rise to a valid medical malpractice claim. The most common types of medical negligence and errors are:
Failure to Diagnose; or Misdiagnosis
A significant percentage of medical malpractice claims are the result of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a patient’s medical condition. When this occurs, it can result in a victim failing to receive medical treatment that may have prevented them from harm, cured their condition, or kept them alive. Diagnostic errors that lead to incorrect, delayed, or lack of treatment, are actually quite common. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis is enough to bring about a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Surgical errors occur when a physician makes an error during a surgical procedure. Common examples of surgical errors include leaving objects or instruments inside a patient’s body, operating on the wrong body part, making technical errors during the procedure itself, or failing to sterilize surgical instruments.
Medication errors are responsible for a significant number of medical malpractice claims each year. They can occur in a variety of ways, including prescribing the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, failing to check for interactions between medications, or negligent administration of medication.
Malpractice that resulting in birth injuries
One of the more specific types of medical malpractice claims that are brought on a regular basis involve medical negligence that occurs during childbirth or during pregnancy. These types of errors have the potential to cause lifelong issues for affected newborns and may seriously jeopardize the well-being of the mother.
St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice FAQ
We go to the doctor to feel better, not worse. Maybe it’s an accident, and we need emergency services at St. Petersburg General, Bayfront Health, or St. Anthony’s. We need surgery for a joint replacement from Alexander Orthopaedic Associates or All Florida Orthopaedic Associates. We find ourselves diagnosed with a tumor and visiting Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute for treatment.
Sometimes, however, medical providers in the St. Petersburg area fall short of the expected standard of care when treating their patients. As a result, patients suffer from complications, illnesses, and injuries. Lawyers refer to these instances as medical malpractice.
Victims of St. Petersburg medical malpractice have lots of questions about their legal rights. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from those victims. For answers to specific questions about your rights after suffering health complications in connection with receiving medical care, contact an experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP.
What is medical malpractice?
Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider delivers medical services that fail to meet an acceptable standard of care, and a patient suffers an injury, illness, or other health complications as a result.
The minimum standard of care that a healthcare worker must provide consists of the care a qualified medical professional should reasonably be expected to deliver in a given situation. In other words, the standard of care can vary from doctor-to-doctor and patient-to-patient, but only within a reasonable range.
For example, the minimum standard of care for a patient suffering a heart attack might mean something different for a family doctor at a rural health clinic than for a cardiac surgeon at a major city research hospital, although both doctors would likely be expected to perform CPR and use a defibrillator to restart the patient’s heart.
Medical malpractice can occur in any setting in which a medical professional provides care for a patient, including during doctor office visits, surgeries, long-term hospitalizations, and dispensing medication.
What are some common examples of medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice can take many forms, including:
- Misdiagnosis occurs when health care providers diagnose patients with the wrong illness or fail to diagnose patients promptly
- Failure to diagnose happens when a doctor or other health care provider does not notice, assess, and/or diagnose a condition in a patient
- Surgical errors can include operating on the wrong body part, operating on the wrong patient, performing the wrong procedure, leaving foreign objects in patients’ bodies, causing damage to blood vessels, nerves, or organs, and improper administration of anesthesia, among others.
- Medication errors, such as prescribing or administering the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, a medication to which a patient has an allergy, or medications that have dangerous interactions.
- Birth injuries caused by poor judgment or inadequate performance of medical procedures connected to childbirth.
- Lack of informed consent occurs when a medical professional performs a procedure or treatment on a patient without the patient having been adequately informed of the potential risks, and the patient suffers a poor outcome.
These are just a few examples of the vast array of incidents, mistakes, and bad-judgments that can constitute medical malpractice. If you suffered a poor health outcome after receiving medical care, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to learn whether you have the right to take legal action for compensation.
What are some warning signs that medical malpractice has occurred?
Patients in St. Petersburg cannot always know, for sure, that they have suffered health complications as a result of receiving substandard medical care. Sometimes, a medical error happened while they were under anesthesia. Other times, they (understandably) do not have the medical knowledge necessary to determine whether a doctor made a mistake that harmed them.
Patients and their loved ones should stay alert for potential warning signs that medical malpractice has occurred, which may include:
- A poor health outcome from a treatment or procedure that is far worse than a doctor predicted.
- A poor health outcome that was not included in the risks the doctor explained to the patient before a treatment or procedure.
- Learning of a disease or other health condition that is already at an advanced or dangerous stage when diagnosed for the first time.
- Members of a medical team expressing embarrassment or distress about a poor health outcome.
- Members of a medical team acting nervous or seeming hesitant to answer questions about a poor health outcome.
- A sudden, unexplained death or severe deterioration in a patient’s health condition, especially if it occurs soon after receiving treatment.
- A patient suffering a severe or fatal health complication after taking or receiving a new medication or being put under anesthesia.
These are only some of the red flags patients and their loved ones should stay alert for as potential signals of medical malpractice. As a general rule, we encourage patients and their families to trust their gut instinct. If a patient suffers health complications, and something seems off about the care or treatment the patient received, then medical malpractice is a potential explanation and it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away.
Who can I sue for medical malpractice in St. Petersburg?
It depends on the circumstances of what happened to you, and who provided the medical services that went wrong.
However, medical professionals potentially subject to a malpractice claim often include:
- Medical doctors;
- Osteopathic doctors;
- Nurse practitioners and registered nurses;
- Licensed therapists; and
- Hospitals, medical practices, and other companies or organizations that provide the services of any of the above.
This is only a partial list. Generally speaking, anyone who holds a license to provide medical care can face legal liability for malpractice. If you have questions about who may owe you damages for the harm you suffered in connection with receiving negligent medical care or treatment, contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney today.
What damages can I recover in a St. Petersburg medical malpractice lawsuit?
Every case of medical malpractice in St. Petersburg is different, and so, the types of damages a victim might have the legal right to recover can vary.
In general, however, legal action for medical malpractice can often seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of a health complication caused by the malpractice, which may include corrective surgery, hospitalization, therapy and long-term care, and medication, among others.
- Loss of income, past and future, caused by the harm done by medical malpractice, such as time missed from work while recovering or an inability to return to work because of disabilities caused by the malpractice-related illness or injury.
- Other expenses related to the health complications caused by medical malpractice, such as the cost of hiring help with day-to-day activities while recovering.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering caused by the illness or injury inflicted by malpractice, subject to maximum amounts set by Florida law that vary depending on the harm done and the services involved in the provision of substandard care.
- In some cases, punitive damages that seek to punish and deter extremely wrongful actions that constitute malpractice, such as in instances in which a medical professional causes harm intentionally.
There is no guarantee of recovering damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, victims of St. Petersburg medical malpractice can give themselves the best possible chance of securing maximum compensation by retaining the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
If I am unsatisfied with the results of a surgery, do I have a St. Petersburg medical malpractice claim?
Possibly. A less-than-ideal surgical outcome does not necessarily mean you received substandard care. However, it could signal that a medical provider made a mistake that qualifies as malpractice.
Speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney today to explore whether the results of your surgery reflect malpractice.
A St. Petersburg doctor prescribed me a drug for treatment and did not tell me the drug was part of an experimental program. Do I have a case?
Chances are good that have a case for a medical malpractice claim if this has happened to you. Doctors have a legal and ethical obligation to inform you that any drug they prescribe or administer is part of an experimental program or drug trial.
Speak with an experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney today to learn more.
Do I have a St. Petersburg medical malpractice claim even if I signed a medical consent form before my surgery?
Yes. A patient signing a consent form does not release medical care providers from their duty to meet the medical standard of care in treating that patient.
Do not let the fact that you signed off on and consented to a particular treatment prevent you from speaking with a skilled St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney.
Do I always need a lawyer for a St. Petersburg medical malpractice claim?
Practically speaking, yes, you do, and it should be a lawyer who has plenty of experience representing Florida victims of medical malpractice.
The average medical malpractice claim is very complex—more complex than a bicycle accident or slip and fall claim. Lawyers for victims of medical malpractice in St. Petersburg and throughout Florida must follow a complicated procedure outlined in Florida law for preparing and filing a medical malpractice claim.
Attorneys who lack experience with that procedure can make costly errors that diminish their clients’ legal rights. When interviewing attorneys, make sure to ask about their experience with Florida medical malpractice matters.
I already received a settlement offer for my St. Petersburg medical malpractice claim. Do I still need an attorney?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, you should never agree to a settlement offer without speaking with our experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice lawyers first.
An unsolicited settlement offer, or any other type of offer of compensation, that you receive from your medical provider or its malpractice insurance carrier will almost always fall far short of the amount of money you have the right to receive under Florida law. Parties make unsolicited settlement offers because they worry they have a legal liability to you, and they want to limit their financial exposure as much as possible.
Agreeing to a settlement offer almost always requires giving up your valuable legal rights to sue for damages. Do not sacrifice those rights without first consulting with an attorney who has the know-how to evaluate your claim to determine how much money the law entitles you to receive, and the skill to negotiate the best possible settlement on your behalf.
When should I speak with a St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney?
Call us as soon as possible after you suspect that you suffered an injury, illness, or other health complication because of a medical provider’s substandard care.
You may have a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages, and an experienced lawyer may need every minute of that time to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. The longer you wait to seek legal advice, the more difficult it may become to gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim.
Contact a lawyer even if you are not sure that you suffered harm because of medical malpractice. An attorney who represents St. Petersburg medical malpractice victims can often investigate your potential claim and determine if you have a case.
How much does a St. Petersburg medical malpractice lawyer at Dolman Law Group or Sibley Dolman cost?
The first meeting with our experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice lawyers cost you nothing. We offer free consultations about medical malpractice cases to make it as easy and risk-free as possible for malpractice victims to seek their help.
If you and our medical malpractice attorneys agree to pursue your claim, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis. We will do legal work for you in exchange for a percentage of any money we secure on your behalf. You do not pay the lawyer money upfront or as the case goes along. Instead, the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid.
Attorneys for St. Petersburg medical malpractice victims agree to this arrangement to make their legal services as widely available as possible to victims who need them. If you or a loved one suffered a poor health outcome after receiving medical care or treatment in St. Petersburg, contact an experienced St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney today at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman to learn about your right to compensation.
Free Consultation with a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney
Individuals who have been injured by the negligence or carelessness of a medical professional may be able to recover significant compensation for their injuries and other associated losses. Because of the complicated legal and medical issues that often arise in Florida medical malpractice cases, it is highly advisable for anyone injured by medical malpractice to retain an experienced attorney that has a track record of success representing clients injured in a medical setting. The lawyers of the Dolman Law Group are committed to protecting the rights of people who are injured in preventable accidents and work hard to get each client we represent the full value of their legal claim. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at (727) 451-6900 or send us an email through our online contact form available here.