Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit (or in a criminal case, a formal charge). If your injury or wrongful death claim is filed after that deadline, it will most likely be dismissed. The state of Florida sets the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases at two years, pursuant to F.S. 95.11(4). That means one has two years from the time the patient (and, in some cases, a family member or guardian) knew about or should have known about the fact the injury occurred and that there was a reasonable chance it was caused by medical malpractice. This differs from the general negligence claim deadline of four years. The wrongful death statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date of death.medical malpractice attorney

Unless there is proof of misrepresentation or fraud or concealment, there is no way to pursue a medical malpractice case beyond four years. This is what’s known as the statute of repose. That means even if you didn’t know about the medical malpractice and there wasn’t any reasonable way to find out, four years is the absolute cut-off. If you can show fraud, misrepresentation or concealment, that statute of repose may be extended to seven years. However, that can be very difficult to prove.

All of this means that as soon as you suspect you or a loved one may have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need to speak with an attorney to find out the best way to investigate and determine whether you have a valid claim.

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Digitization of medical records has been shown to improve patient safety. However, a new study by The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, shows that electronic health records used by 90 percent of hospitals and 80 percent of doctors’ offices, are at the root of many new medical malpractice lawsuits.medical malpractice lawyer

The firm reported that an analysis showed the number of claims involving electronic health record errors as a contributing factor has risen steadily over the last decade.

The potential liability risks to the medical malpractice insurer were first noted beginning in 2007. Between then and 2010, there were 2 total claims wherein these records were a contributing factor. By 2013, there were 28 such claims. There were a total of 97 such claims closed between January 2007 and June 2014. Between July 2014 and December 2016, there were 66 claims involving errors with electronic health records. Continue reading

When it comes to the prevalence of medical errors, those involving missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are the most common. Information gleaned from the National Practitioner Data Bank (an electronic collection of all medical malpractice settlement payments made since 1986), diagnostic errors are the most common source of payments and often the most costly and dangerous to patients’ health. medical malpractice lawyer

It’s true that medication errors and on-site surgical errors are very real problems. However, in terms of the sheer volume of cases it’s substantial, with an estimated 80,000 to 160,000 patients suffering permanent disabilities from misdiagnosis annually.

One such case out of South Carolina recently resulted in a $10 million jury verdict to the husband of a woman who died of cancer after there was a communication error between doctors. This resulted in significant delays in life-saving surgery, The State newspaper reports. The doctor and the practice for which he works initially offered to settle her claim for $250,000 – an offer that was declined. Continue reading

An 80-year-old South Florida man was awarded $13 million after a botched cataract surgery that a jury concluded was the result of medical malpractice. medical malpractice

NBC-6 Miami reports jurors concluded the medical center where the surgery was conducted was liable in a case involving the negligence of an opthalmologist with whom the center contracted for routine eye surgeries. The surgery resulted in patient suffering total blindness in one eye.

As our medical malpractice attorneys in Miami can explain, normally medical centers (hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc.) aren’t vicariously liable for the negligence of independent contractors. Instead, they are only vicariously liable for the work of employees. While it must seem to many patients that doctors who work at these facilities work for them, more often than not, this isn’t the case. However, in this case, the jury determined the physician was an actual employee of the center, even though he was practicing on contract.

Vicarious liability stems from a legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which  is Latin for “let the master answer.” It means an employer can be liable for the negligent acts of employees who were acting in the course and scope of employment. It does not require proof that the facility itself did anything directly wrong, only that it employed the person who was negligent and that person was acting as an employee at the time the injury occurred. Continue reading

Injuries that occur in hospitals are mostly matters of medical malpractice, meaning they stem from substandard care provided by medical professionals. However, some hospital injuries are the result of general negligence (often due to unsafe conditions on the premises). Although hospitals are providers of care, they are also owners of property, with a duty of reasonable care under premises liability law to the general public who enter. medical malpractice

This distinction is clear in some cases. For example, a visitor slips-and-falls in a just-mopped hospital lobby that isn’t marked with a sign. Clearly, that incident isn’t a matter of medical malpractice; the visitor wasn’t even being treated. However, when it comes to patients – current, prospective or leaving – the waters can get muddied.

It’s an important distinction to make because the proof burden for these two types of cases is very different. For general negligence cases, one must simply prove defendant owed a duty of care, that duty was breached and the breach resulted in an accident that caused injuries. However, Florida medical malpractice cases, per F.S. 766.102, require claimants to prove by the greater weight of evidence that alleged actions of health care provider(s) breached the prevailing professional standard of care for that health provider. This considers whether the level of care, skill and treatment in light of all surrounding circumstances is deemed acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers. In order to do this, one must present a qualified expert medical witness testimony – and that’s long before one ever gets to the trial phase. There is also the matter of the statute of limitations (the time in which one has to file a case). In Florida, general negligence claims can be filed within four years. Medical malpractice claims have to be filed within two years.  Continue reading

Attorneys for the estate of a South Florida woman who died during surgery have filed a notice of appeal to the Florida Supreme Court after a divided appellate court decision favored a defendant anesthesiologist. medical malpractice

The 3rd District Court of Appeal last month in a 2-1 ruling upheld a directed verdict for the defendant by the Miami-Dade County circuit judge. Although plaintiff attorney’s notice did not give any detailed information about the arguments that would be made before the state high court, the case originated with the 2009 death of a 45-year-old woman, who was undergoing a surgical procedure to remove a non-aggressive brain tumor.

According to court records, defendant anesthesiologist conducted an evaluation of decedent prior to the surgery. She later died during the operation due to what the majority appellate panel found was an extreme loss of blood. However, the dissenting opinion agreed with plaintiff that anesthesiologist erred in reading an electrocardiogram (EKG) prior to administering anesthesia. An EKG is a test that measures the heart’s electrical activities. While the majority justices found the doctor had acted properly, noting another anesthesiologist also conducted an evaluation prior to surgery, the dissenting justice sided with plaintiff in finding the results of that EKG were abnormal and should have been a red flag that there would be issues in surgery. That puts plaintiffs in a stronger position for the upcoming appeal.  Continue reading

One of the reasons Florida medical malpractice cases are so complex – and costly – is because they require at least one (and usually more) expert witness. F.S. 766.102(1) places the burden of proof in these cases on the plaintiff (person injured) to show the health care provider breached the prevailing professional standard of care, given the care provider’s care, skill and treatment in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances. The court will look carefully at what the accepted standard of care as viewed by “reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” medical malpractice

The mere fact of a medical injury doesn’t create the presumption of a health provider’s negligence (except in cases where a foreign object, such as a surgical sponge, is found). The way plaintiffs prove defendant care provider breached the standard of care is to have a qualified expert witness – someone of the same or similar experience as defendant – testify as to plaintiff’s position. While our medical malpractice lawyers in Naples work on a contingency fee basis (meaning we aren’t paid unless you win), expert witness fees are something plaintiff is responsible to pay, regardless of the outcome of the case. In many instances, though, when a plaintiff wins, expert witness fees will be covered by the losing party.

However, a recent ruling by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff who prevailed in a medical malpractice lawsuit was entitled to have the defendant pay the expert attorney fees, to the extent plaintiff is able to show the fees were both reasonable and necessary, even though one of those expert witnesses was also a treating physician.  Continue reading

David J. Halberg, Attorneys at Law, recently secured a $2.3 million medical malpractice settlement with Golisano Children’s Hospital, stemming from a brain injury and arm amputation of a newborn in 2013.medical malpractice

Halberg fought on behalf of the boy, who was born prematurely at his Lee County home before being whisked to the hospital. As noted in the original complaint, nurses at the hospital are accused of improperly inserting an intravenous line known as a PICC (short for peripherally inserted central catheter).

This medical mistake remained undetected for almost a full week. This was despite the fact the baby had signs and symptoms of serious issues due to impeded blood flow. By the time medical workers discovered their mistake, the newborn’s fingertips were black. His hand was shriveled. Continue reading

The South Florida medical malpractice law firm of David J. Halberg P.A. handles cases involving injuries from PICC lines (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter). These devices along with IV catheters and ports can be helpful if properly handled and inserted.

Unfortunately, if these devices are improperly inserted or handled there can be catastrophic damage to the patient, including infection, loss of limb or even loss of life.

Not only is it important how these devices are handled and inserted, it is also critical how the condition of the patient is followed on an ongoing basis. If warning signs of injury are ignored, the results can be tragic.
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According to the American Cancer Society in order to receive immediate and proper medical treatment, timing is vital in a patient who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The earlier the cancer is detected the sooner the appropriate treatment can be started which betters the survival rate and opportunity for a cure.

The survival statistics of many types of cancer are optimistic if the cancer is diagnosed early and timely medical treatment is provided. That’s why the window of opportunity is crucial and time is of the essence when dealing with this disease. Early detection is key.
Failing to diagnose and treat cancer in a patient who presents with signs and symptoms of the disease may be grounds for medical malpractice against the physician and/or healthcare providers.
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