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How to Know If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case

Doctor with stethoscope

Medical malpractice is a significant concern in the healthcare sector. When healthcare professionals fail in their duty, the consequences can be grave. But how can you know if you have a genuine case of medical malpractice? And once you believe you do, how do you find the right attorney?

Understanding Medical Malpractice

At its core, medical malpractice involves causing injury to a patient due to negligence. This negligence can stem from any medical professional, including doctors, nurses, and even pharmacies. The diversity of this field is vast, ranging from surgery malpractice to an incorrect dosage or medication administration.

A central component to understanding if you have a medical malpractice case is the "reasonable standard of care." If a medical professional fails to meet this standard, it forms the basis of a malpractice claim. A significant factor in proving negligence lies in the concept of the "Reasonable Person," an average individual with typical intelligence and knowledge. If the defendant's actions deviate from what this hypothetical individual would do, it can be deemed negligence.

However, the realm of medicine complicates this notion. Medical professionals undergo years of training, raising the bar of what's considered "reasonable." Hence, unlike other negligence cases, medical malpractice often hinges on expert testimony to determine if the defendant deviated from the standard of an "average doctor."

Deciphering Malpractice From General Negligence

Florida law makes a distinction between medical malpractice and general negligence. Medical malpractice pertains to errors made during the provision of medical care or services that require professional skill or judgment. On the other hand, injuries sustained in a hospital that don't relate directly to medical care might fall under general negligence.

For instance, if a patient gets injured due to a security lapse at a medical facility, it could be considered general negligence. But if a patient is harmed due to the hospital not following a specific dietary order from a physician, that's medical malpractice.

A recent case, Simmons v. Jackson Memorial, illustrates this distinction.

In that case, the plaintiff was a resident of a psychiatric facility operated by a hospital. Another resident came into the plaintiff’s room and beat him with a metal handrail. The plaintiff believed that this was not a medical malpractice case but instead sued the hospital alleging that it failed to provide him adequate security and failed to train its staff to recognize and react to emergency situations.

The hospital disagreed and tried to dismiss the plaintiff’s case for failing to comply with Florida’s presuit process. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case. Fortunately for the victim, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed, reinstating the victim’s case. The Court ruled that the plaintiff did not need to comply with the presuit requirements because the victim was not injured as a result of medical care or treatment.

Likewise, his case would not be bound by the two-year statute of limitations.

On the other hand, in Puentes v. Tenet Hialeah Health System, the Court ruled that a case alleging a hospital failed to follow a physician’s order regarding a patient’s diet was a medical malpractice case requiring that the patient comply with Florida’s presuit process.

How Do I Find a Good Malpractice Attorney?

Medical malpractice cases require specific expertise. When seeking an attorney for such cases:

  • Experience Matters: Ensure the attorney has experience in handling medical malpractice cases, particularly in your state. Laws can vary, and understanding regional nuances is crucial.
  • Check Their Track Record: A credible attorney or firm will have a history of success in these cases. Look for past results, settlements, or verdicts they've achieved.
  • Seek Expert Collaboration: Since expert testimony is vital in malpractice cases, inquire about the attorney's network of medical professionals. Their ability to collaborate with respected experts can significantly impact your case.
  • Consultation: Most reputable attorneys will offer a free initial consultation. Use this opportunity to gauge their expertise, assess your case's merit, and understand potential strategies.
  • Consider Resources: Medical malpractice cases can be resource-intensive. Ensure your attorney or firm has the financial muscle and commitment to see your case through to its conclusion.

With over a century of combined experience, the team at Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. understands medical malpractice from every perspective. We are proud to have consistently showcased our commitment to helping victims of medical negligence.

If you believe you've been a victim of medical malpractice, don't hesitate to reach out to experienced professionals who can guide you through the process and ensure you get the justice you deserve. Call (305) 770-6335 for a comprehensive review of your situation.