According to the latest National Healthcare Quality and Disparities report from the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Florida ranks in the fourth quartile (lowest-worst) among all U.S. states on measures of overall healthcare quality. It is, therefore, no surprise that a significant number of injuries and deaths occur each year in Florida due to medical malpractice. In fact, due to the high incidence of medical negligence, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank (https://www.npdb.hrsa.gov/analysistool/), from 2018 through 2020, there were 10,900 reported medical malpractice payments per year, on average, in Florida. These payments were made because people were hurt, often severely, by their medical care providers.
In Miami, life-threatening medical malpractice occurs throughout the health care system: in doctors’ offices, hospitals, surgery centers, clinics, and patients’ homes. It includes medication errors, surgical errors, delays in diagnosis and treatment, misdiagnosis, use of defective equipment, radiology or laboratory errors, anesthesia errors, nursing negligence and other forms of negligence or medical error.
Unfortunately, these dangerous medical errors and negligence injure thousands of Americans each year. If you are one of these unfortunate victims, you may be wondering if you should take legal action against the party or parties responsible for your injuries. This blog post will address some of the questions you may have about medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida.
Do I Have Grounds for a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Florida law gives you the right to sue health care providers for damages when their negligence caused death or personal injury. That is, if a doctor, nurse or other health care provider was negligent and failed to provide the same level of care, skill and treatment that a reasonably prudent medical provider of the same specialty would provide given the same or a very similar set of circumstances, and that failure caused you to suffer serious injury (or caused a loved one to suffer a fatal injury), you have the right to take legal action against the negligent parties to hold them legally responsible for medical malpractice.
Sadly, there are many types of medical negligence in Florida that cause serious, even fatal, injuries and lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. The most common types of medical negligence are:
- Diagnostic Errors – The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports that incorrect and delayed diagnoses are common in all areas of health care. These diagnostic errors, such as failing to diagnose or the delayed diagnosis of cancer, failing to diagnose a serious infection, or failing to diagnose a heart attack or stroke, harm thousands of people each year. In addition to physical pain and suffering and medical expenses, the victims of diagnostic errors can suffer psychological and financial harm from unnecessary or harmful treatment and the lack of beneficial treatment.
- Surgical Errors – A recent report on Medical Error Reduction and Prevention notes that at least 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States. Operating on the wrong side of the body, leaving foreign objects in the body, cutting an organ or nerve, causing internal bleeding or failing to detect and treat internal bleeding in time to prevent permanent injury or death can all cause irreparable harm.
- Medication errors – Medication errors, such as giving a patient the wrong medication, can result in temporary or permanent harm to the patient. Other medication errors can also result in serious injury. These errors include:
- Administering the wrong dose of a medication (e.g., insufficient antithrombotic medication, the wrong flow rate of chemotherapy drugs, the incorrect dose of dialysis solution, overdosing a patient on narcotics or other medications that cause a respiratory arrest or other injury)
- Prescribing a contraindicated combination of medications
- Prescribing or giving a drug to a patient with a known allergy (e.g., prescribing Azithromycin for a patient allergic to erythromycin);
- Not monitoring a patient closely during medication therapy (e.g., when a patient is on blood thinners)
- Prescribing medications for off-label use
- Emergency room errors – A 2018 report in Science Daily indicates that errors in the emergency room occur more often due to information processing errors than lack of knowledge or information; however, the fact remains that errors occur too often, with serious consequence for patients, due to doctors and nurses
- Failing to triage a patient accurately
- Failing to communicate accurately and fully during a shift change
- Failing to acknowledge obvious signs of patient distress
- Overlooking symptoms of stroke or heart attack
- Administering the wrong medication or wrong dose
- Misdiagnosing a condition
If you or a loved one has been injured by a medical error, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney will be able to review the specific circumstances of your case and advise you on the best course of action.
Why Should I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
There are several good reasons why you should consider filing a medical malpractice claim if you have been seriously injured due to medical negligence. First, a medical malpractice claim can hold a negligent doctor, nurse or other health care provider accountable for the harm their negligence caused. Healthcare providers who make egregious errors should be held liable for the pain, suffering and losses you have suffered and may continue to suffer. If you have been injured due to medical negligence, you deserve justice.
Secondly, you deserve substantial compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you have experienced because of your injury. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, these damages may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and stress
- Diminished capacity to enjoy life
- Existing and future medical and care expenses
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
Finally, with a medical malpractice claim, you can potentially help prevent others from being injured by the same negligent health care provider. The Florida Department of Health investigates medical malpractice claims and, if there is sufficient evidence of a standard of care violation, files a formal administrative complaint against the offending health care provider. There is then a public record of the violation and an administrative process that allows medical licensing boards to take disciplinary action against practitioners’ licenses.
Do I Need a Miami Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Medical malpractice cases are usually very complex. To demonstrate that a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional was negligent and breached the prevailing professional standard of care and then demonstrate that the negligence caused serious injuries, requires extensive investigation, a thorough understanding of all the facts, high quality expert testimony, effective use of the civil discovery process and the expertise of an experienced medical malpractice trial lawyer. In short, you need an experienced, skilled medical malpractice attorney preparing your case, protecting your rights and expertly advocating for you.
Getting help from an experienced Miami medical malpractice attorney will also help ensure that your medical malpractice claim is filed before the statute of limitations runs out. For Florida medical malpractice lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two years from the date the malpractice occurred or from when it was discovered or should have been discovered. The latest date allowed for the discovery of malpractice so as to preserve one’s legal rights is four years from the date the negligent incident occurred. This 4 year time limit has two exceptions. If the injured victim was a child, the 4 year limitations period from the date of the negligent act is extended until the child’s 8th birthday. In addition, if a doctor or other healthcare provider prevents the discovery of medical negligence by concealing the negligence or fraudulently covering it up, the maximum four year period is extended to 7 years.
If you have been harmed because of a surgical error, diagnostic error, medication error, emergency room error or another instance of medical negligence, it is important to not delay getting advice from an established Florida medical malpractice attorney and law firm. The experienced Miami trial attorneys of Boyers Law Group would be honored to help you. We have successfully represented many victims of medical errors and negligence throughout Florida and have the experience, skill and resources needed to help you obtain the justice and the substantial compensation you deserve.
For a free consultation at your convenience, call us today at 800.545.9100 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website.