Medical malpractice can result in a more serious illness or may result in the death of a loved one. The parties to a medical malpractice case can range from a nurse who was to provide care to a surgeon who performed an operation. Oftentimes, families are uncertain if they have a case for medical malpractice because they are uncertain about the criteria.
Determining Grounds for Medical Malpractice
There are three basic questions which must be answered initially to determine whether a medical problem is a result of medical malpractice. They are as follows:
- Did the medical professional have a duty of care to the patient?
- If the professional did have a duty of care, did they breach the standard?
- Did the breach cause avoidable harm and result in financial damage to the patient?
Who Owes Patients Duty of Care?
While we automatically assume a doctor owes a patient a certain level of care, there are others who may owe duty of care to patients. These include (but may not be limited to) nurses, health care facilities, hospitals, anesthesiologists, radiologists, dentists, psychologists, and others who provide any type of health care service.
Duty of care may also extend to drug companies, and those who provide medical devices such as artificial joints, provide blood for transfusion, and may further extend to teams who assist with organ donation transplants.
What is the Standard for Duty of Care?
Medical malpractice occurs in cases where a reasonable level of care is not provided. Per Florida statutes, this is further defined as “…The prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider shall be that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers….”.
What is Considered a Breach of Duty of Care?
A breach in duty of care means the party failed to act in a proper way. Some examples of this include:
- Poor Hiring Practices
- Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
- Rendering Improper Treatment
- Failure to Warn of Risks
- Surgical or Emergency Room Errors
- Prescription Errors
A breach occurs when a patient could be harmed by a decision made by someone on their healthcare team. Whether this is because they failed to act in a timely manner, or they took unnecessary risks with the health of the patient.
Proving Avoidable Harm and Damages
The final element of a medical malpractice case is proving the patient suffered harm and as a result, incurred financial damages. Some examples of this include:
- A patient with a wrong diagnosis has their condition worsen and can no longer work because their condition has caused physical deterioration.
- A patient develops an infection because a surgeon failed to remove an instrument from their open wound following a surgical procedure. The outcome is the patient must undergo additional surgical procedures and lose more time from work.
- A patient fails to recover and is in a vegetative state because an anesthesiologist failed to read their chart and learn they were allergic to a drug used to do a procedure.
These are just a few of the instances where medical malpractice claims may be filed in Florida. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, contact a Florida personal injury attorney today for a free consultation and find out your legal options.