The legal definition of medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, deviates from the standards of his or her profession, thereby causing injury to a patient. Simply put, medical malpractice is negligence on the part of a healthcare provider that causes injury, disability or death to the patient.
In some states, this falls under the category of Tort Law, while in rare cases it may rise to the level of criminal behavior. In states where laws for tort reform have been enacted, such as California, you are limited to the number of money damages you can recover in a medical malpractice suit.
Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Seventy-five thousand patients die annually in hospitals alone, from infections alone, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention. It has been estimated that four hundred thousand unnecessary deaths occurred in hospitals alone just within the time of the early 2000s.
Another study showed that over one million patient safety incidents occurred among the thirty-seven million hospitalizations in the Medicare population over just a short two-year period. Hospital costs associated with such medical errors come in staggering amounts, such as those were estimated at three hundred twenty-four million in October 2008 alone.
In Florida and New York, obstetricians, gynecologists, and surgeons, the doctors sued most frequently for malpractice, pay more than one hundred thousand dollars a year for one million dollars of malpractice insurance coverage.
Who to Contact after Medical Malpractice
The first thing you should do is contact an attorney. Handling of a medical malpractice case on your own is not advisable, as there is a considerable amount of work that goes into the proof of such claims. The basic elements are listed here, but you should remember there is a requirement for expert witnesses, showing doctors reports, all communications from the hospital, etc. that you will need to provide a strong case and just to prove your case. Let the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Burnetti, P.A. do this work for you. The experts at Burnetti, P.A., in Florida, will be your greatest advocate going forward to get the compensation you deserve.
If you are alleging negligent medical malpractice against a doctor, you must prove four elements:
1) A duty of care was owed by the doctor being sued
2) The doctor violated the applicable standard of care
3) You suffered a compensable injury
4) The injury was caused in fact, and proximately caused by the substandard conduct of the doctor in question
In medical malpractice cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. As the plaintiff, you are required to prove all elements of the malpractice. Negligence is the predominant theory of liability regarding allegations of malpractice and proof of injury can include both physical and emotional effects.
Does Medical Malpractice Really Happen Every Day?
While we all want to trust that our doctors have our best interest in mind, and the majority of them do, medical malpractice does in fact happen all across the country every day. These errors by the medical profession include, but aren’t limited to: operating on the wrong person, operating on the wrong body part, anesthesia errors, prescription drug errors, failure to diagnose a life-threatening condition, failure to order proper tests, and patient abuse or neglect. In a study done by The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurance company, from 2004 to 2006 the most common causes of malpractice and percentages thereof were as follows:
- medication related errors-32%,
- communication related errors- 27%,
- healthcare-associated infections-18%,
- medical records errors-13%,
- identification errors or wrong site surgery-5%.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being on the receiving end of medical malpractice, there are remedies out there, just keep in mind the requirements for filing.
What Compensation Am I Entitled To?
When you file a medical malpractice suit, you can be entitled to lost income, cost of health and personal care, and other damages related to your injuries. Grieving survivors of anyone who has died as a result of medical malpractice can pursue payment for damages in a wrongful death claim.
Are There Any Special Requirements in Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Yes, there are some special requirements to keep in mind when filing a medical malpractice suit. You’ll want to file as soon as you know you have been injured due to medical malpractice, as there is a statute of limitations on when you can file. (Each state can set their own statute in this area.)
Florida’s statute of limitations on filing is two years; you must notify the doctor within that time, prior to filing the suit with the court. The clock starts ticking from the time the injury is actually committed. In some rare situations, the date could start from the time you recognize the damages for cases that do not have immediately obvious injuries.
Many states, including Florida, require patients to first submit their claim to a malpractice review panel. The panel will review all documents, statements, medical records, etc. to decide if indeed medical malpractice has occurred. The panels’ decision doesn’t replace a lawsuit, and this panel cannot award damages, but you must go through them before being able to file with the court. The panels’ findings can be presented in court in order to bolster your case, but keep in mind that often the court will throw a case out if the panel does not confirm that there is actual medical malpractice in your case.
Keep in mind that expert testimony is required in medical malpractice cases. This is another reason why you should retain the services of an attorney to navigate this litigation for you. Your attorney will make sure all the right people are there to help your case, that you file all the right documents in the right order, and answer any questions you have about the process. Burnetti, P.A. is just the firm to help you with your claim. Contact our experienced Orlando, Florida medical malpractice legal team today for help with your claim!