It can be difficult to accept that your doctor or medical provider caused you harm because of medical negligence, errors, or intentional wrongdoing. But, unfortunately, that is the case for many patients. Many suffer harm and injuries because of “medical malpractice.”
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice describes a patient’s legal cause of action when a medical provider’s conduct results in harm or injury to the patient. Medical malpractice includes mistakes, errors, negligence, or wrongdoing during the diagnosis, health management, treatment, or aftercare of a patient.
Examples of medical malpractice may include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to order diagnostic tests
- Leaving instruments in the patient during surgery
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Failing to review a patient’s medical history
- Interpreting lab reports incorrectly
- Surgical errors
- Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a patient
- Performing unnecessary surgical procedures
- Birth injuries and fatalities
- Medication errors and mistakes
- Failing to monitor a patient or premature discharge of a patient
A tragic outcome or an unforeseen complication may not rise to the level of medical malpractice. A negative outcome is not necessarily “proof” of medical malpractice.
The question is whether the doctor provided a reasonable standard of care as required by Florida law. If so, the doctor may not have committed malpractice, even if the patient sustained harm or injury.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Florida
A patient has the burden of proving that their doctor committed medical malpractice to recover compensation for damages after malpractice:
The four legal elements of a medical malpractice claim are:
- The physician owed the patient a duty of care
- The physician breached the duty of care by providing an improper standard of care
- The physician’s negligent conduct caused your injuries
- You sustained damages
Without injuries, harm, and damages, you do not have a medical malpractice lawsuit. Likewise, if you cannot prove the physician’s negligence caused your injury, you do not have a medical malpractice claim.
Lastly, if you cannot prove that the physician’s conduct violated the acceptable standard of care, you lose your medical malpractice lawsuit.
How is the Standard of Care Determined in Your Case?
Medical malpractice cases are governed by Florida’s Medical Malpractice Statutes in Chapter 766 of Title XLV of the Florida Code. The code applies to any action to recover damages based on allegations of personal injury or death resulting from medical negligence.
The patient has the burden of proving that:
- The health care provider breached the prevailing professional standard of care.
- The prevailing professional standard of care is the level of skill, care, and treatment recognized as reasonable, appropriate, and acceptable by other similar prudent health care providers.
- The relevant surrounding circumstances impact the definition of the acceptable standard of care.
In other words, even though the doctor may have injured you, you must prove that the doctor’s conduct failed to meet the prevailing professional standard of care.
Medical experts are used in determining the standard of care for your situation. They use the circumstances of your case to determine the care that a reasonably cautious physician would have provided in the same or similar situation. A medical expert is defined by law as a person who has a healthcare degree, regularly engages in the practice of medicine, and meets the requirements for an expert witness in a medical malpractice case.
If you cannot locate a medical expert that agrees your doctor breached the standard of care, you will not win your case. It is essential to keep in mind that medical malpractice cases may come down to dueling expert witnesses. The defense will present their expert witnesses who will contradict your expert witnesses. The jury decides who to believe.
Medical Malpractice Cases Are Complex and Challenging to Pursue
The circumstances of your case greatly influence the acceptable standard of care.
The following factors could also impact your case:
- Lack of informed consent
- The unauthorized practice of medicine
- The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims
- The parties involved in the case
It takes time to investigate your claim, gather evidence, and confer with medical experts. Therefore, if you suspect medical malpractice, it is wise to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately.