When you or a family member gets sick or injured, you rely on health care professionals to help you recover. Unfortunately, the treatment you receive sometimes falls well below the accepted standard of care, and it can result in a worsened condition or even death. If you were injured due to medical negligence, it’s critical to promptly contact an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney.
Patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins calculated that medical error is the cause of more than a quarter of a million deaths in the United States every year. This estimate makes medical errors the third leading cause of death. While not every medical error can be classified as a case of medical malpractice or medical negligence, insurance companies pay out billions of dollars for medical malpractice claims each year. If you believe you or a loved one is one of the millions of people who was harmed by a health care provider’s negligence, your best course of action is to consult with the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A.
We know from experience that medical malpractice cases can be very distressing for our clients, and all parties usually want a quick and fair resolution. Our experienced team of attorneys and staff will work with you to determine the plan of action that is right for your unique needs to resolve your case as quickly as possible. Because no two medical negligence cases are ever alike, we provide our clients with personal attention and individualized legal guidance.
Types of Medical Malpractice Errors
The following are just a few of the types of medical errors that can occur during the course of diagnosis and treatment.
Medication errors: Typical medication errors include giving patients the wrong medication, drugs to which they are allergic, incorrect dosage and improper instructions for how to take the drugs. Patients may also receive a dangerous combination of medications that have adverse or harmful effects.
Anesthesia errors: Errors made while administering anesthesia can cause severe injuries or even death. These errors can range from using faulty equipment or failing to properly monitor the patient’s vital signs, to giving the wrong type of anesthesia or giving the wrong dosage.
Emergency room errors: Although every hospital has protocols in place for handling emergencies, emergency rooms can be, by their very nature, somewhat chaotic as the staff rushes to treat patients. This can result in errors in diagnoses and treatments or miscommunication among physicians and staff.
Diagnostic errors or delays: A diagnosis is the basis for recommended tests, treatments and much more. An error in diagnosis may lead to unnecessary—or even dangerous—tests and treatments or delay the proper tests and treatment for an undiagnosed condition.
Surgical errors: A surgeon or surgical tech who is inexperienced, fatigued or distracted may make critical errors during surgery, including leaving instruments or sponges behind, performing a procedure on the wrong part of the body or perforating or damaging internal organs.
Misinterpreted test and scan results: Misreading ultrasounds, X-rays or other results of diagnostic procedures can lead to a failure to detect the patient’s condition (a false negative) or the diagnosis of a condition the patient does not have (a false positive). As with any type of diagnostic error, misread results can cause a delay in patients receiving the proper or even life-saving care.
Lack of coordination: Having a single doctor meet all of your needs is a thing of the past. Today, you may be seen by a primary care physician, specialists, lab technicians and many others as you make your way through the medical system. Even though the use of electronic medical records is on the rise and is meant to provide a cohesive record of care for an individual, a lack of coordination between health care providers can result in errors being made in anything from prescriptions and dosages to unnecessarily repeated tests that may be harmful.
Medical Malpractice Documents Checklist
Anytime you are considering filing a legal claim, you must have documents to support your claim. These are just some of the documents you may need to provide your medical malpractice lawyer:
- Insurance: Your medical malpractice attorney will need all of your insurance information in order to determine the damages to seek, whether you may have been denied payment you should have received or if you were incorrectly billed.
- Medical records: Gather all of the records that detail the procedures that were done, how they were done and all of the medical care providers that were involved. If any procedures were performed or care was provided for which you do not have documentation, request it from the hospital, clinic or physician’s office. If some records are withheld, your attorney will advise you as to the proper legal steps to take to obtain them.
- Invoices: You may be able to be compensated for your out-of-pocket expenses and other costs. It’s important to provide your medical malpractice lawyer with all bills related to your case.
- Prescription records: Your attorney will want to review your prescription medical records to determine whether medication errors are a factor in your claim.
- Pay stubs or wage records: You may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages.
- Documents from the defendant: Provide your lawyer with any letters, emails, forms or other written communications you have received from the medical professional or entity you believe is responsible for the malpractice.
Medical Malpractice FAQ
What is medical malpractice or medical negligence?
An article in the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine defines medical malpractice as “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.”
How do I know if I have a valid medical malpractice case?
In general, a victim of medical malpractice must meet four legal requirements in order to make a successful claim:
- The existence of a legal duty on the part of the healthcare provider to provide treatment or care
- A breach of that duty by failing to adhere to the standards of the profession
- A causal relationship between the breach and harm to the patient
- The resulting damages
Because medical negligence cases can be very complex, determining if you have a case should be done with the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney. Dennis Hernandez & Associates offers free, no-obligation initial consultations to help determine if you should pursue legal action.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Section 95.11(4)(b) of the Florida Statutes states that legal action for medical malpractice “shall be commenced within two years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within two years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” In either case, a lawsuit must be filed no later than four years from the date the negligent act occurred.
If you believe you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, it’s critical to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The sooner we can begin working on your behalf, the more quickly you may be able to be compensated for your injuries.
How much compensation can I receive in a medical malpractice case?
No two medical malpractice cases are ever the same, and the amount of compensation sought varies from case to case. Your medical malpractice attorney will review all the elements of your unique case before determining how much your case may be worth.
What type of compensation can I seek?
You may be able to receive compensation for lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and more.
Contact our medical malpractice attorneys to find out if you have a case.
Malpractice and negligence cases require vast knowledge of the medical field, access to medical experts, financial resources to build a compelling case and the experience to take a case to trial. The Florida medical malpractice lawyers at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A. have the resources and skills to handle your case, no matter how complex. Call us at our law office in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Sarasota/Bradenton or Lakeland to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.