When you go to the hospital to see a doctor or another medical professional, you trust that they will have your health and best interests in mind. You often literally put your life in their hands, so it is very important that they do not make mistakes that will harm you.
Unfortunately, mistakes happen—even when someone is dealing with something as important as your health and well-being. Those mistakes occur far more often than you might think. In fact, the Journal of American Medical Association reports that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is right behind heart disease and cancer. In those situations, you might have a legal claim based on medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional causes an injury to a patient because of a careless act or omission. Their actions give rise to a legal claim. That legal claim can get you money damages to help you address things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost time away from work
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of affection, companionship, and services from a loved one
In cases that result in a fatality, family members can also assert a medical malpractice claim for the loss of their loved one.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Florida
Florida law requires that you show certain facts to prove your medical malpractice claim.
The Standard of Care
Perhaps the most important thing to show is that the doctor or other medical professional violated the standard of care. That means that the action that they took was not in line with what a reasonable medical professional would do under the same or similar circumstances.
Patients have a right to expect that doctors and other medical professionals will act reasonably and prudently. However, it can be difficult to determine what might be “reasonable” in a specific situation. Proving that the doctor was not reasonable will require that you employ an expert to give an opinion about what is appropriate.
The Action or Inaction Resulted in Your Injuries and Damage
You must also show that the doctor’s action or inaction resulted in your injuries. To prove this, you must generally show that your damage would not have occurred if the doctor did not interfere. Again, proving this fact will likely require an expert opinion about the cause of your injuries.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims
A medical malpractice claim can come up virtually any time that a doctor or other medical professional treats you. However, some of the most common types of cases include:
- Delayed or incorrect diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Improper medications or dosages
- Ignoring or misreading laboratory results
- Failing to do proper testing
- Disregarding or failing to take an accurate patient history
- Poor follow-up care
- Premature patient discharge
It can be hard to determine whether a doctor made a mistake until you become seriously ill or injured. You may not realize what caused your damages, either.
Keep in mind, however, that having a bad outcome after medical treatment does not automatically mean that you have a medical malpractice claim. If you think your doctor made a mistake, you need to speak with a Florida medical malpractice attorney to help you determine what your legal options may be.
Time Limitations for Asserting a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida
Florida residents have two years to assert their medical malpractice claim. That clock starts ticking when the patient (or their family member, in some cases) knew or should have known that the injury occurred, and a healthcare professional’s mistake caused it.
In general, it is a good idea to talk with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you can after you realize that a doctor made a mistake. Sometimes the time limitation starts earlier than you might think.
The medical malpractice attorneys at VG Law Group, LLP, will be able to help you determine what your next steps should be if you suspect that you are the victim of medical malpractice. Call 1-833-HELP-365 to learn more or to set up an appointment with our team.