Articles Tagged with medical malpractice attorney

Not every injury that occurs at the hands of a medical professional or inside a medical institution is considered medical malpractice. The Florida Supreme Court once again made this distinction in a recent case when asked to consider whether the trial court made the right decision in tossing a negligence lawsuit for failure to meet stringent medical malpractice lawsuit requirements, or whether the appeals court was right for reversing the lower court to allow the matter to proceed.medical malpractice attorney

Negligence versus medical malpractice is an important distinction because if a hospital or health care professional is successful in having the case designated as sounding in medical malpractice, plaintiffs must then abide by the state’s complex medical malpractice statutory schema, as outlined in F.S. 766.106. This includes specifications for pre-suit notice (including sending a copy of the complaint to the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration), to determine if conduct alleged subjects a licensee to disciplinary action. It also involves giving defendant 90 days in which to conduct a review of the allegations and either reject the claim, make a settlement offer or make an offer to arbitrate. (Settlement at this phase is rare.) Then plaintiff has 30 days from receipt of that response to give their own response. Then there is an informal discovery process, response to written questionnaires, collection of un-sworn statements by treating providers and more. Additionally, medical malpractice claimants must have an expert witness who is equally if not more qualified than the defendant to testify to a breach in the applicable standard of care. Finally, (save for some exceptions) medical malpractice claims have a two-year statute of limitations, whereas personal injury litigation has a four-year statute of limitations.

Negligence cases are much more simple. That’s why if a defendant can argue it’s medical malpractice, they will, because, as our South Florida medical malpractice attorneys know, it means more hurdles for you. Continue reading

The Florida Supreme Court recently sided plaintiffs in a dispute regarding witness testimony in a medical malpractice lawsuit involving a young child forced to undergo a kidney transplant due to alleged failure to diagnose a chronic illness by her primary care doctor.medical malpractice

In the case of Gutierrez v. Vargas, plaintiff reportedly suffered from a chronic kidney disease that went undiagnosed for six years, ultimately resulting in so much damage she had no choice but to undergo a kidney transplant. Defendant argues plaintiff suffered a different disease that could not have been diagnosed sooner. The case went to trial and plaintiff was awarded $4.1 million in damages.

Defendant appealed on the grounds the decision conflicts directly with those of other district courts on a question of law. Specifically, defense argued the lower court should not have allowed several of the girl’s treating physician to testify at trial about their diagnostic opinions or allowed rebuttal testimony from a second pathology expert. After the judgment was reversed and remanded for trial by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, the state high court ruled there was no abuse of discretion and affirmed the trial court’s conclusion. Continue reading

The ongoing scourge of medical malpractice in Florida is reason the state legislature and health care professionals established the Peer Review process, as outlined in F.S. 395.0193. It’s a means of identifying potential problem areas for individual physicians by having colleagues review their work, with the stated goal being improvement of patient care and reduction in medical and legal expenses. medical malpractice

However, one of the aspects of the peer review process, per section 8 of that statute, is that the investigations, proceedings and records of the peer review panel, a committee of a hospital board, disciplinary board, government board or agent of one of these “shall not be subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in any civil or administrative action against a provider of professional health services arising out of the matters which are the subject of evaluation and review…” In other words, if you file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Florida doctor, the records contained in these peer review files – even if relevant – can’t be compelled. However, records pertaining to these cases from independent sources aren’t immune from discovery just because they were presented in peer review proceedings.

It can be frustrating as a patient who suffered a missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or other medical error to know there are records that could help your case that you can’t use. However, as a recent case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court revealed, this immunity may not extend to each and all circumstances. Pennsylvania has a similar peer review process and statutory immunity to protect information gleaned in these proceedings. However, in Reginelli v. Boggs, the court held that the performance file developed by an independent contractor (one that provided staffing and administrative services for a hospital emergency room) were not protected under the state’s peer review statute. 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

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

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

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

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