People go to the hospital to get well – not to get worse. Unfortunately, some hospital visits do not go according to plan. Surgeons operate on the wrong body part, emergency room doctors misdiagnose heart attacks, and nurses fail to administer the appropriate amount of medication. Hospitals require a close attention to detail, and mistakes can happen under the best circumstances, this is when you’ll need the help of a skilled medical malpractice attorney.
Medical negligence refers to the other types of mistakes – the kind that happen out of recklessness, a lack of training, or a lack of oversight. Failure to properly diagnose or treat conditions can result in life-altering injuries and death. In a hospital environment, some mistakes are preventable and unacceptable.
A form of medical malpractice, hospital negligence cases arise in hospital settings. When staff members including physicians, nurses, personnel, or technicians fail to use a reasonable level of care and patients suffer, the hospital or individual may face legal responsibility for the outcome. At Fiol & Morros Law Group, our Tampa Bay personal injury lawyers represent all patients who suffer injuries, illness, or complications as the result of a hospital caregiver’s negligence.
What Qualifies as Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence or medical malpractice is any act or omission that falls short of an ordinary and prudent health care facility’s standard of care. Any negligence on a health care professional’s part, resulting in injuries or damages to a patient, is medical malpractice. A patient must generally have four elements to prove a medical malpractice claim in Florida.
- A patient-physician relationship existed at the time of the alleged hospital negligence.
- The hospital or physician provided substandard or negligent patient care.
- The defendant’s substandard care caused or contributed to the patient’s injury.
- The patient suffered quantifiable damages because of the hospital’s negligence.
The burden of proof in a Florida medical malpractice claim is a preponderance of evidence: the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely to be true than not true. Proving negligence may take asking for a medical expert’s opinion on what the standard of care was for the situation. If a medical expert agrees the hospital fell below the standards of care and this was a substantial factor in causing the patient’s injury, the hospital may be guilty of medical malpractice.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Negligence Claim in Florida?
The statute of limitations in Florida assigns a length of time you have to file a medical malpractice and negligence claim. A statute of limitations is a legal time limit every state places on civil claims. Statutes of limitations motivate claimants to file as quickly as possible, while evidence is still available for both parties. Each type of civil case has a different statute of limitations. A medical negligence claim, or medical malpractice claim, has a two-year deadline in Florida. This is half the amount of time a claimant has for a standard personal injury case.
The two-year time limit will start counting down on the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the hospital’s negligence. This may or may not be the same date the malpractice occurred. If you were the victim of a surgical error, for example, you may not discover a foreign object forgotten in your body until months after the surgery. The clock will not start ticking until the date of discovery. Regardless of when you discover the medical malpractice, however, Florida has a statute of repose of four years. You cannot file a claim once four years from the date of malpractice has passed.
Exceptions exist if your case involves fraud or a plaintiff under the age of eight. If your case involves health care fraud in connection with medical negligence, you still have two years from the date you discover the fraud to file. The statute of repose, however, is seven years from the date of the incident. If your case involves an injured patient under the age of 8, you must bring the lawsuit on behalf of the minor before his or her 18th birthday.
What Compensation Could I Receive?
If a hospital is guilty of negligence or medical malpractice, a civil claim could result in payment for many damages. Proving malpractice could make you eligible for a settlement award or jury verdict. The hospital’s insurance provider may agree to give you a settlement if it believes you have a valid claim. Otherwise, your medical malpractice attorney may need to take the hospital to court to fight for fair compensation for damages.
- Past and future health care expenses
- Physical pain or anguish
- Emotional distress
- Income losses
- Lost capacity to earn
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Grief, in a wrongful death case
- Punitive damages
The compensation you could receive for a successful medical malpractice claim depends on your unique and specific losses. Your attorney can help you prove your damages using evidence such as medical bills, treatment documentation, medical expert testimony and statements from people close to you, such as friends or family members. The potential value of your case will depend on the severity of the malpractice.
Florida Medical Negligence Laws
Medical negligence occurs when hospital staff members either fail to provide reasonable services or make an error during the course of treatment/services. To file a medical malpractice claim against a hospital or caregiver in Florida, a claimant must first obtain an affidavit from a medical expert that corroborates the opinion within the claim of negligence. Under the law, the medical expert must hold a professional degree and practice in the same or a similar discipline as the defendant in question.
In general, claimants must file a malpractice claim against a hospital or any professional caregiver within two years of discovering the injury. The state may extend or suspend the statute of limitations in certain cases, so we highly recommend speaking to a hospital negligence attorney about your case even if you feel the statute of limitations has passed.
The Cost of Medical Errors
According to a new study, avoidable medical errors cost Americans $19.5 billion in 2008. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) bases the figure on a conservative estimate of 1.5 million measurable medical errors. Managing director of MBA Actuaries, Inc. Jim Toole said in a statement accompanying the report, “Of the $19.5 billion in total costs, approximately $17 billion was the result of providing inpatient, outpatient, and prescription drug services to individuals who were affected by medical errors. While this cost is staggering, it also highlights the need to reduce errors and improve quality and efficiency in American healthcare.”
The study’s findings include the following:
- In 2008, there were 6.3 million medical injuries; of those, 1.5 million were the result of medical error
- The average cost of each medical error: $13,000
- Seven percent of hospital and other inpatient admissions result in medical injury
- Avoidable medical errors caused more than 2,500 preventable deaths
- American workers and employers lost more than 10 million days of work due to short-term disability brought about by preventable medical errors
Types of Medical Negligence
Patients place a high degree of trust in hospital employees. Not all mistakes constitute negligence or malpractice. Malpractice only occurs if the professional acted incompetently and if another similarly skilled professional would not have made the same judgment call or error. Some of the most common types of hospital negligence that we see in our practice include:
Hospitals handle hundreds of different medications and patients on a daily basis. In a properly run environment, a physician writes an order for medication in a patient’s medical record. The hospital pharmacist fills the prescription, and a nurse administers it and watches the patient for reactions/results. Hospitals need to give patients the right medication for a condition and the right dosage amount at the right frequency.
Failing to take allergies and interactions into consideration, providing the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, or the wrong frequency could result in serious medical complications. Patients with advocates at their sides and who can actively monitor their own medication administration can reduce the risk of medication errors, but some receive medications while unable to respond or double check the prescription.
When patients receive wrongful medication therapies and suffer severe side effects, complications, or death as a result, they and their families reserve the right to take action with the help of a medical negligence lawyer. Medication negligence is a clear indication of poor oversight and/or incompetence. In medication error claims, the hospital itself, a prescribing physician, a pharmacist, or a nurse may face liability for the error.
Birth injuries can occur during vaginal births and during cesarean sections. When obstetricians fail to recognize complications (such as umbilical cord problems), diagnose certain conditions, or use birth-assisting tools in a proper manner, a baby may suffer irreparable harm. In many birth injury claims, babies lose access to oxygen for seconds or minutes at a time. Loss of oxygen can lead to several life-altering conditions including chronic seizures and cerebral palsy.
Infections, muscle and nerve injuries, fractures, and misdiagnosed pregnancy conditions can all complicate the delivery process. A baby may also suffer if a physician uses the wrong medications or mishandles an infant in the moments after birth.
Some birth injuries are terrible accidents, while others result from clear cases of medical negligence. Parents may not recognize the presence of a complication until days or weeks after delivery. Slow cognitive development, muscle weakness, and recurring illnesses may all indicate the presence of a birth injury.
If you recognize abnormal symptoms in a baby, ask for documentation from the delivery process. Talk to nurses, and write down everything you remember happening in the hospital. To pursue a birth injury claim, a claimant must prove the illness or injury happened as the result of the delivery process and that an act of negligence caused it. At Fiol & Morros Law Group, we understand the complexities of birth injury claims. We’re here to help you through a difficult time. Whether your baby suffers from an incurable condition or died during delivery, our dedicated attorneys will pursue your claim to trial if needed. No child should suffer because of a physician’s incompetence.
Hospitals perform various types of surgeries on a daily basis. In the busiest hospitals, surgeons may move from one surgery to the next with little downtime. Surgeons must use an extraordinary level of care to meet patient needs and perform a surgery according to medical standards. Surgical errors can happen during any surgical procedure, but they commonly happen during routine surgeries as the result of thoughtlessness.
When surgeons and their teams fail to meet the medical standard of care and patients suffer, they and/or the facility may face liability for the consequences. Some of the most common types of preventable surgical errors include:
- Leaving a surgical instrument inside the person. While uncommon, surgeons have left gauze, scalpels, and other tools inside a patient’s body.
- Operating on the wrong body part or patient. Always ask your surgeon to mark the area of the body for surgery prior to the event to avoid confusion. Miscommunication in the hospital setting may result in a surgeon operating on the wrong patient or body part and performing a completely unnecessary surgery instead of the needed one.
- Unnecessary damage. Surgeons must use extreme care, particularly when working around nerves and delicate body parts. If a surgeon carelessly makes the wrong move while performing the surgery, a patient may suffer from chronic pain, numbness, or other complications after the surgery. If you wake up from surgery with more pain or a condition you didn’t expect, the surgeon may have committed an act of malpractice.
- Anesthesia mistakes. An anesthesiologist is a highly trained and highly paid member of health care groups. The professional should understand the standards for administering anesthesia, including possible complications or interaction and dosages. When anesthesiologists make mistakes, a patient might wake up too soon or not at all.
Some mistakes happen in the heat of the moment and any health care professional might make the same error. Others, however, should never happen to a patient under a medical professional’s care. At Fiol & Morros Law Group, our medical negligence lawyers understand the roles and responsibilities of people who work within hospital settings. We will protect your right to seek compensation after a serious or deadly hospital error.
Our Approach to Medical Malpractice Claims
Since 2002, Fiol & Morros Law Group has built a reputation of success in Florida. Our medical malpractice attorneys have decades of experience pursuing medical negligence claims in a state known for its stringent malpractice laws. We understand the effect a hospital error can have on your life, and we will relentlessly pursue your case against even the most well-known malpractice defense attorneys.
When you contact us with concerns about medical negligence, we will meet you wherever you need us most. We can even meet you in the hospital. Our compassionate attorneys will walk you through the claims process and investigate every aspect of your situation. To succeed in a hospital negligence claim, we need irrefutable proof that a careless or incompetent action within the hospital caused your injury, illness, or complication.
Some hospitals and medical professionals will try to cover up evidence of malpractice. We urge you to reach out to an attorney in Florida as soon as possible to begin an investigation and build a case. Together, we can stop others from experiencing similar acts of malpractice.
What to Do if You Suspect Medical Negligence
If you suspect medical malpractice and negligence, take the following steps to protect your right to file a claim:
- Record everything. Write down everything you remember before your memory starts to fade.
- Keep files, receipts, and records. Keep every piece of paper associated with your hospital visits, treatments, and second opinions.
- Ask someone to serve as your hospital advocate. If you are still in the hospital, make sure a family member or friend stays with you to act on your behalf when you’re in treatment or not awake. An advocate can prevent further acts of negligence and ensure you’re taken care of until you speak with an attorney.
- Contact a malpractice attorney as soon as you can. To file a claim before the statute of limitations runs out and preserve the evidence of the claim, contact an attorney as soon as you suspect an act of negligence. During a free consultation, one of our attorneys can help you decide if moving forward with a claim makes sense.
Your Medical Malpractice Attorneys
The attorneys at Fiol & Morros Law Group respect the work local hospitals do to protect residents in and around Florida. We also believe that the law acts as a much-needed check on medical authority. Especially if someone dies as a result of medical treatment, our wrongful death lawyers want to help. Allow us to serve as your legal representatives, and we will fight to secure full and fair compensation on your behalf.
We take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. As your law firm, our team can also represent you in front of insurance adjusters, employers, and bill collectors as we pursue your claim and help you find a path to maximum recovery. For a free medical malpractice, and negligence case evaluation reach out to our office in Florida today.
“Simply a great attorney. Alex was always available to meet with me for whatever reason. He explained my case from beginning to end. I was sent to the best specialist because my health was important to him and his staff. At the end, he settled my case without having to go to court.” – Alexander