This means that the doctor or health care provider must have done, or failed to have done something, that other doctors in a similar circumstance would or would not have done.
In legal terms, medical malpractice occurs when “a health care provider deviates from the acceptable standard of care in the treatment of a patient, and the deviation causes an injury to the patient that the patient would not have suffered except for the deviation." This sounds rather complicated but it is really rather simple when we look at each part of the definition separately.
The level or amount of care that our community would agree is adequate medical care. This is based on the level of care that other physicians in our city provide to their patients. For example, if we are determining what the standard of care is for our family doctor, usually a general practitioner, we would look at what other general practitioners in the same area do and use this as a guide for measuring whether or not our doctor provided acceptable care. It is important to remember that the standard of care is different for each type of health care provider. For example, when we consider a “specialist” such as a surgeon, the standard of care for him would be much higher in the area of surgery than it would be for a medical doctor who does not specialize in surgery.
It is also important to remember that the standard of care definition is designed to be fair. In other words, a nurse is not held to the same standard of care as a physician, and a general practitioner is not expected to provide the same level of care as a specialist. Nor would a small health clinic in a rural town be held to the same standard of care as a major trauma hospital in a big city. However, it is also important to remember that each health care provider is responsible for recognizing when the patient’s health problem is beyond their scope of expertise and when it is necessary to refer the patient to a specialist so that an acceptable level of care can be provided to their patient.
Who decides what the "Standard of Care" is in your medical malpractice case? A jury will decide what the appropriate standard of care is for you.
With the help and guidance of our experts, Powell and Espat can decide whether or not it is reasonable to believe that the doctor’s care fell below the acceptable standard of care and caused serious injury that is worth bringing an action for your malpractice injuries.
A health care provider can be almost anyone who provides medical care. Examples include hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists, aides, chiropractors, osteopaths, midwives, psychologists, organ donor companies, blood banks, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and many others.
Almost all health care providers are protected by Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act which requires a complicated and costly investigation of your potential medical malpractice claim. We can help you decide whether or not you need to comply with Florida’s complex presuit medical malpractice screening statutes. If you fail to comply with the presuit laws, your claim may be barred, forever preventing you from making any recovery for your injuries.
Just because a doctor has deviated and fallen below the acceptable standard of care in treating his patient, this does not necessarily mean there are grounds for a medical malpractice claim. In order to have medical malpractice, the third part of the definition requires that there must be an injury caused by the breach of care. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a broken finger but it heals without any disability, then his failure to diagnose the break did not cause further injury. If, on the other hand, the broken finger heals incorrectly causing deformity and disability, then the doctor’s failure to diagnose the fracture has caused further injury. If the additional injury could have been prevented had the doctor made a proper, timely diagnosis, there is clearly a case for medical malpractice against the doctor.
In the situation described above, the insurance company for the doctor would probably say that if there was damage to the finger, it was caused by the first injury and not by the physicians’s failure to diagnose and treat your finger in a timely manner. This is a doctor’s favorite excuse: “My mistake did not cause your injury!" Usually, when a health care provider has injured their patient they will say that he or she did not deviate from the acceptable standard of care. He or she will also claim that any possible deviation did not cause the injury, or if it did cause injury, then it was not his or her fault because someone else in the hospital, such as a nurse or another doctor caused the injury. He or she might even claim that the patient was at fault for the bad outcome or that their patient would have suffered from the injury even without the malpractice. Therefore, it is extremely important to remember that if a doctor and/or his insurance company can persuade a jury to believe that any one of their excuses is valid, then the injured victim will lose their case.
Florida law says: if a negligent person causes an injury, they are also legally responsible for any medical malpractice that occurs in the treatment of that injury. For example, if someone has a car accident, they go to the hospital, and the hospital by mistake gives the person the wrong medication, and kills them, the bad driver is responsible for the death caused by the negligent doctor and the bad driver is not permitted to defend the case by saying that the car crash victim’s injuries came from medical malpractice and not the car crash. If the law was otherwise, every defendant (in a car crash, etc.) would claim medical malpractice in order to avoid full responsibility for the victim's injuries. This in turn, would cause numerous medical malpractice lawsuits brought by car insurance companies against the health care providers that have treated car crash victims.
The Statute of Limitations in Florida for most medical malpractice cases is 2 years from the date of the malpractice. This can be as much as 4 years if fraud is involved in hiding the doctor's mistake. For a neurological birth malpractice case, such as cerebral palsy, the time can be up and until the child is 7 years of age. If a death is involved, then the time limit for a wrongful death is 2 years from the date of death. There are many exceptions to these time limits and it is best to call us immediately.
If you think that you or a loved one may have been the victim of medical negligence, you can receive a competent legal opinion concerning your rights and it is free. Call medical malpractice attorney Matt Powell or Mitch Espat. They are both experienced medical malpractice attorneys who have helped many people who have been seriously injured by bad doctors.
304 S Plant Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33606 (813) 222-2222
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Board certified civil trial lawyer Matt Powell and experienced personal injury attorney Mitch Espat.