Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

This flu season has been a brutal one, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting more than 60,000 cases since October resulting in hundreds of deaths. Although the flu is a fairly common viral infection, one of the most severe complications is sepsis. This is a type of bacterial blood infection that is the body’s overwhelming response to some other infection and can follow not just the flu but pneumonia, urinary tract infections, bedsores, surgery wounds, intravenous lines and other conditions.medical malpractice attorney

Symptoms of sepsis include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Pale or discolored skin
  • Rapid breathing/ shortness of breath
  • Extreme pain/ discomfort
  • Sudden confusion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Kidney failure

Sepsis can be fatal (it’s the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association) and must be treated rapidly and appropriately. Young children, the elderly, those suffering from chronic diseases and weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable. Even those who survive may have long-term complications, including kidney damage requiring lifelong dialysis.

A diagnosis of sepsis or septic shock alone is not proof of medical malpractice, even in cases of death. However, if the initial infection or the development of sepsis was hospital-acquired or if it was improperly treated, there may be grounds for a South Florida medical malpractice lawsuit.  Continue reading

A baby admitted to the hospital with the flu left with severe and permanent brain damage as a result of Miami medical malpractice by a nurse who was high on drugs. That’s the plaintiff’s allegation in a recently-filed South Florida injury lawsuit. medical malpractice attorney

The Miami Herald reports the child now has a feeding tube in his stomach and is unable to speak, swallow solid foods or walk more than few steps unassisted. He was just 4-months-old when admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in November 2015. His doctors today say he will likely need intensive, around-the-clock nursing care for the rest of his life. His mother has had to quit her job in order to help attend his needs. He is undergoing a rigorous treatment of pediatric therapies.

According to the lawsuit, defendant nurse bathed the child and on accident removed the boy’s breathing tube for a period of approximately seven minutes. During his shift, colleagues observed he was sweating, shaking and had bloodshot eyes. Despite this, no one apparently raised a red flag about her continuing to provide care to the facilities youngest and most vulnerable patients. Although the child’s mother noted the nurse was “anxious,” she assumed that was “his personality,” and tried not to worry because none of the other doctors and nurses on staff commented on it.

Both the hospital and the defendant nurse (in a written statement to the newspaper) vehemently deny the accusations, despite the nurse having previously admitted his addiction to methamphetamine and other drugs one year prior to this incident. At that time, he was under investigation by the Florida Department of Health and underwent treatment for addiction services. He was still under monitoring at the time of the incident but quit just two months later, costing him both his job and his nursing license. Continue reading

South Florida medical malpractice attorneys recognize obstetrics and gynecology as a medical practice area with higher-than-average rates of litigation. Malpractice in obstetrics and gynecology can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities for both women and babies. A recent survey by Medscape revealed some of the top reasons for lawsuits against Ob/Gyns are:

  • Patient suffers an abnormal injury – 36 percent
  • Failure to diagnose – 22 percent
  • Failure to treat – 15 percent
  • Poor documentation of patient instruction and education – 5 percent
  • Improperly obtaining/ lack of informed consent – 4 percent
  • Failure to follow safety procedures – 3 percent
  • Errors in medication administration – 2 percentbirth injury lawyer

These usually involved a maternal or fetal death, failed tubal litigation, poor timing/ performance of a cesarean section, bowel perforation or shoulder dystocia. A recent case of a catastrophic injury suffered by a baby delivered by an Ob/Gyn at a federally-funded hospital was allegedly caused by the physician’s “unjustified and overly-vigorous use” of forceps during the birth of a child. The child reportedly now suffers from lifelong mental disabilities, and after a jury awarded the family $42 million for this severe brain injury, the federal government has withdrawn its appeal.  Continue reading

Failure to diagnose is the No. 1 reason physicians face medical malpractice claims. One study in 2013 published in the journal BMJ Open analyzed claims against primary care physicians in the U.S., Australia, France and Canada and found that between 26 and 63 percent of all medical malpractice lawsuits stem from a missed diagnosis. The most commonly misdiagnosed conditions in adults were myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cancer, and meningitis in children.medical malpractice attorney

It was reportedly a failure to properly review a high school senior’s kidney ultrasound led to his death two months later on a class trip, according to a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by his parents two years ago. Now, probate court records show the hospital involved has settled the case for $2 million. Valley News in New Hampshire reports the teen suddenly collapsed and died while changing planes en route to a youth leadership conference. An autopsy showed he had a large cancerous tumor on one of his kidneys, which had partially dislodged, passed through blood vessels and into his lungs and heart.

At issue was the fact that doctors had known about a calcified cyst on the boy since he was just 7-years-old. It was a condition that required yearly checkups. In May 2014, at age 17, he experienced blood in his urine, was admitted to the hospital and physicians performed a kidney ultrasound. The doctors ascertained upon review the kidney was stable and his condition unchanged. There was no extensive work-up of ultrasound results and he was discharged from the hospital that same day. He died in late June 2014. Continue reading

Most people assume the end of the road for a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit is the verdict. However, that is not the case as there is always the potential for appeal. The National Center for State Courts reports medical malpractice cases have an appeal rate of 18 percent. Those cases that tend to have the highest rate of appeal are those that involve serious injuries, complex medical and/ or scientific evidence and expert testimony. That’s why medical malpractice cases in Florida tend to have a higher rate of appeal than, say, a car accident injury verdict. What’s more, the center reported, defendants who lose medical malpractice cases are more likely to appeal than plaintiffs. medical malpractice lawyer

Most medical malpractice cases that are appealed involve:

  • Loss of mental function;
  • Facial scarring;
  • Loss of sight/ hearing;
  • Death;
  • Paralysis.

Because appeals can be so costly, it’s not unheard of for medical malpractice plaintiffs to end up back in negotiations with defendants – even after they have obtained a favorable verdict. The reason is if there is a good chance defendant will appeal (and may have a strong argument on appeal), plaintiff may agree to a settlement – ending the case then and there, albeit for a lesser amount – than go through the time, expense and ordeal of an appeal. It’s also possible that if a trial is bifurcated (split into separate issues, usually liability and damages) that a defendant will settle after liability has been determined, but prior to a finding of damages. Continue reading

We know that successful medical malpractice lawsuits are first and foremost intended to compensate victims of careless doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers. But the other function these claims serve is to alert both patients and state health officials to problematic trends with individual caregivers and facilities. medical malpractice attorney

The National Practitioner Data Bank, which follows medical malpractice lawsuits against active practitioners and their outcomes, reports that between 2005 and 2014, only 1 percent of doctors were linked to one-third of all medical malpractice settlements. Further, the greater number of claims the physician settled, the much higher the chances were the doctor would pay another in the future. Doctors who had previously settled two malpractice cases were more than twice as likely to be involved in a third settlement, compared to those who had one previous settlement.

These findings make a recent report from South Florida’s The Sun-Sentinel all the more troubling. Reporters revealed that when medical malpractice lawsuits are settled or even decided in favor of the plaintiff in a jury trial, those doctors and facilities are rarely penalized by officials with the state’s Department of Health.  Continue reading

More than 10 years ago, Florida voters soundly agreed that “adverse medical incident reports” should be public knowledge to patients. That measure was known as “Amendment 7.” However, there is now an effort underway to limit access to this information once again, driving concern that physicians and other health care providers will be able to more easily conceal wrongdoing. medical malpractice

A former general counsel to the governor, now a member of the state’s Constitution Revision Commission, has formally proposed an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would place limitations on the kinds of records that could be used in medical malpractice litigation against physicians, hospitals and other health care providers.

The reason these records are so important is because they allow the public – and medical malpractice claimants in particular –  to slash through the red tape. Prior to the passage of Amendment 7 (which was done with an overwhelming majority), it was incredibly common for hospitals to make it difficult to obtain prior records of wrongs by a given physician or hospital, characterizing the data as privileged by risk management or peer review. Continue reading

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