Articles Tagged with medical malpractice lawyer

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

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

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.

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

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

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