Between 1992 and 2014, medical malpractice claims, such as emergency room errors and avoidable birth defects, sunk 56 percent across America. During the same period, average claim size increased 23 percent, meaning although fewer claims are being brought to litigation, the remuneration is much larger today than prior to the internet boom.
Statistics like this shouldn’t dissuade individuals with claims of reckless medical treatment from coming forward. In fact, the forthcoming facts may compel you to bring that claim to an attorney before the statute of limitations expires.
Medical Errors Third in American Deaths
Trailing only cancer and heart disease, medical errors in all forms are now an imminent threat. In other words, physicians who promise to care for the greater good, nurses and their ilk are responsible for killing more individuals than drug overdoses. Even more than respiratory diseases, which came in fourth.
Johns Hopkins University released an interesting press release in 2016 outlining how medical errors are taking 250,000 lives across America, although researchers are wanting death certificates to more accurately reflect the true causes of death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show chronic respiratory disease as the third leading killer as of 2016, partly due to incorrect enumerations of medical negligence.
Bear in mind that Johns Hopkins doesn’t account for prescription drug overdoses which, in other cases, have been successfully litigated as negligence issues on behalf of prescribing doctors.
Researchers in this study concluded that medical errors aren’t necessarily due to poorly trained or otherwise ‘bad’ doctors; rather, errors should be attributed to fragmented insurance, poorly coordinated care and absence of accountability in remedying such errors. Lackluster protocols are endemic in negligence cases, although the multitude of negligence cases nationwide often pin culpability on the primary physician.
Medical malpractice sets Americans back an estimated $15 to $29 billion dollars annually. Technological advancements may help these figures slowly subside, although human error will always be an issue.
Florida Is a Leading Malpractice State
Although Florida sat 39th in 2014 with only 16.2 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents, the state ranked fourth with over $248 million paid out. Most medical malpractice suits involved wrong-site surgeries, misdiagnoses or failure to administer diagnosis, leaving surgical instruments in patients, birth injuries and either overprescribing or failing to prescribe adequate medication.
Florida’s Supreme Court retired their cap on medical malpractice awards in March 2014. According to Tort Reform Law (§766.118), non-economic awards were capped at:
- $500,000 for practitioners;
- $750,000 for non-practitioners;
- $1 million for cases leading to permanent vegetative state or death.
It’s unlikely these caps will have any effect on malpractice suits in 2018, yet time will tell if these costs go up over the next few years. In other states where this has happened, malpractice costs stayed relatively consistent.
Another surprising statistic about Florida’s medical negligence is that only about five percent of medical errors have a connection to doctors. In fact, Florida ranks last in disciplining doctors after they receive five strikes.
People Don’t File Suit Because They’re Unaware
Absent statistical data, it’s impossible to know how many patients simply don’t retain an attorney because they fear their case is thematically flawed. If you’re reading this, and can prove beyond doubt that physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and psychologists have:
- Failed to provide adequate care when admitted;
- Caused birthing injuries;
- Prescribed either the wrong procedure, or performed the right procedure poorly;
- Ignored your treatment needs knowing an issue existed; or
- Gave you too much or too little of any life-saving drugs
You may be entitled to compensation. An attorney need only prove breach of duty, causation, duty and harm caused by the aforementioned. The award amount depends on varying factors which are case-specific. Sexual misconduct that leads to malpractice may bring criminal charges if enough facts substantiate pursuing an indictment.
Although separate, malpractice suits are possible when recalled medical devices such as the Bard G2 or vaginal meshes aren’t removed properly, and cause complications or death.
You Know the Facts – Here’s What to Do
Human beings have the right to seek health care for procedures. Work health insurance, Medicaid or self-pay options should never dictate the level of care received.
If misdiagnosed and injured, you must act quickly to preserve evidence and have enough time to get a second opinion.
An attorney will instruct you on what specific steps to take, and will begin an independent investigation as required by court. From there, defendants will be notified of the impending lawsuit, which allows them time to fight the claim. Medical records are necessary.
Certain pre-suit requirements may be necessary, depending on your specific situation. Again, this is where attorneys are useful.
Medical malpractice suits are fact-sensitive. One cannot simply point fingers at physicians without substantial evidence proving negligence. Florida courts put a stronger burden of proof on plaintiffs who allege medical negligence.
Because the costs of litigation are high, cases of negligence must be substantial to warrant any legal action. Cases may take months, if not years. However, cases expected to yield a large settlement may settle prior to trial.
Choose your physician wisely
A 2009 Massachusetts General Hospital study revealed that most medical doctors expect to face lawsuits. Treating medical mistakes and negligence occur in two separate ways; one may happen without malicious intent, while the other requires an element of willful participation.
195,000 patients needlessly lose their lives in hospitals every year due to preventable errors. Before becoming an unfortunate statistic, exercise your right to fight back. If your loved one has lost their life, contact an attorney that deals with medical negligence. Bookmark this article for future reference, too.
Consult with an experienced medical negligence attorney Burnetti, P.A. today by calling 888-287-6388 or filling out the consultation request form. Don’t wait any longer – begin today.