Articles Tagged with South Florida medical malpractice lawyer

A Florida medical malpractice lawsuit could reopen a contentious debate over Amendment 7, a 2004 constitutional amendment that aims for transparency in health care by requiring providers to disclose certain medical error records.Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

As our Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers can explain, the health care industry has had it out for Amendment 7 pretty much since the moment it passed by popular vote nearly two decades ago. It’s withstood several challenges, but that doesn’t mean it’s invincible – particularly with four new faces on the Florida Supreme Court since the last major ruling on it. If the state high court is persuaded by an appellate court panel to reconsider – and ultimately change – its position, it will mean plaintiffs in Florida medical malpractice cases will have a tougher time gathering pertinent information on the defendant provider’s medical mistakes.

What is Amendment 7, Florida’s Patients’ Right to Know?

Florida’s “Patients’ Right to Know” amendment (Article X, Section 25 of the Florida Constitution) gives patients the right to access medical records made or received in the course of business by a health care provider or facility relating to any adverse medical incident.

As explained by the U.S. Department of health & Human Services Office of Inspector General, an “adverse medical incident” is one in which a patient’s care results in an undesirable outcome, such as a prolonged patient stay, permanent patient harm, life-saving intervention necessity, or death. This would not be a patient succumbing to an underlying disease, but rather the result of errors, known side effects, substandard care, or complications that were unexpected but possibly unavoidable. Not every adverse medical incident is the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit, but most medical malpractice lawsuits are the result of an adverse medical incident. Patients or surviving loved ones who are weighing legal action against a health care facility or provider may cite this amendment when requesting relevant incident reports and other records.

Obviously, health care facilities and insurers were opposed to this from the beginning, but state constitutional amendments are tough to change. Recently though, the First District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 against a medical malpractice plaintiff who sought relevant records under Amendment 7. The appellate panel majority then took it a step further and implored the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider the 2005 amendment, saying:

  • Years of court decisions on the issue have resulted in expanding Amendment 7 beyond what voters intended, in turn “radically transforming” medical malpractice litigation ion Florida.
  • Adverse medical records created for submission to a peer review organization under the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA) should be shielded from mandated disclosures under Amendment 7.

For context, the PSQIA was passed in 2005 – just one year after Amendment 7 – with the goal of improving patient safety and care quality with the creation of a voluntary, confidential, and non-punitive system through which health care providers could freely report medical mistakes and near-misses. The idea was that by facilitating a free flow of information – unincumbered by legal risks – health care facilities and researchers would be able to more accurately scrutinize problematic trends and policies. The ultimate goal is minimizing medical risk to patients. The PSQIA shields health care providers who voluntarily collect data on medical mistakes for the purpose of turning it over to this federal program by classifying those records as “privileged.” They are labeled as “patient safety work product,” and protected from public disclosure.

Is There a Conflict With Federal Law?

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A patient who suffered a leg amputation was recently awarded nearly $5 million in damages in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor he alleged was negligent in failing to act quickly, given his medical condition.

Failure of an on-call physician to timely and completely respond to a call of a patient in distress with a potentially serious condition could be grounds for medical malpractice. If you believe a doctor’s failure to properly treat your condition may have fallen outside the scope of the accepted standard for medical care, our South Florida medical malpractice attorneys may be able to assist.medical malpractice attorney

According to the Daily Business Review, jurors in Polk County delivered the verdict in favor of a plaintiff whose leg was amputated in 2013, when he was 61-years-old. Defendant was an on-call vascular surgeon at a hospital in Winter Haven who was allegedly negligent in treating plaintiff’s condition, which was acute lower-leg ischemia. Medical researchers characterize this condition as one that develops quickly when there is a sudden decrease of blood flow to a limb, resulting in a potential threat to the viability of that limb. Not only is one at risk for a possible amputation, patients are also at heightened risk of death  because the condition results in issues that impair both heart and liver function, in some cases releasing highly toxic free radicals that further compromise critically ill patients. Medscape notes that therapeutic choices in these situations are often few, usually requiring surgery.

In this case, before the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County, plaintiff alleged it was the surgeon’s delay in ordering the surgery – and not the underlying condition itself- that necessitated the removal of his leg.  Had the physician acted with the urgency plaintiff’s condition required, the amputation would not have been needed. Instead, plaintiff alleged his condition could have been treated with something called an embolectomy, which is the surgical removal of the emobolus or emboli, or the blockages affecting blood circulation. Continue reading

A U.S. veteran died from blood poisoning, due to what his family alleges was medical negligence in the form of a misplaced catheter.medical malpractice attorney

According to MensHealth.com, the medical malpractice lawsuit filed by his survivors indicates the patient suffered from both a traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis when he sought treatment at a Veteran’s Affairs clinic in Missouri for a condition called neurogenic bladder, common with MS patients. The condition makes it tough for patients to control their bladder function. After his catheter was changed at the facility, the 52-year-old was returned to the facility where he resided, where caregivers noted he had a fever – and large amounts of clotting and blood at the end of his penis. He was rushed to the hospital, diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and also sepsis, a life-threatening complication of bacterial infection.

Plaintiffs allege a CT scan conducted soon thereafter showed the balloon in the Foley catheter inflated not in the bladder, as is the intent, but in the urethra. He died of septic shock last month. Continue reading

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

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

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

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