Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorney
Florida Attorneys Fighting for Injured Patients in Broward County
Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death among Americans, according to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University. This does not account for the millions of Americans who fall victim to faulty medical care each year – patients who sought treatment to get better, but instead suffered due to the negligence or incompetence of a nurse, physician, surgeon, pharmacist or drug company.
If you or a loved one have been sickened or hurt after receiving treatment at a medical facility in Broward County, retaining legal counsel could help you receive the compensation you need to help you recover, both physically and monetarily. A Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer who has successfully represented injured parties in such cases can work with you to ensure your injuries are properly documented and that the right expert witnesses are present to give their highly relevant professional testimony and add weight to your case, ensuring the best possible outcome for you.
A favorable judgment in court can mean having the financial help you need to cover your unexpected medical expenses in addition to compensating you for any physical, lifestyle, emotional and professional setbacks you have experienced as a result of your malpractice injury.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a broad term that describes a category of personal injuries that occur as a result of a patient receiving erroneous medical treatment or if a healthcare professional refrains from providing necessary care to prevent a patient from becoming injured. Situations that give rise to medical malpractice lawsuits occur in hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient facilities, and nursing homes. Defective medications and medical devices may also result in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the manufacturer. In proving a medical malpractice case, the injured party’s attorney must prove the medical provider or manufacturer had a duty to the plaintiff and that the medical provider or manufacturer breached the duty to the patient in a manner that resulted in the patient’s injury.
There are sometimes challenges in filing a medical malpractice case because oftentimes, the injured party does not recognize the injury or its cause until some time after the medical procedure was performed or the patient begun taking the prescribed drug. Nevertheless, all medical malpractice claims must be filed within Florida’s statute of limitations, though the law does recognize certain exceptions. Therefore, anyone who suspects their health have been negatively affected as a result of receiving medical treatment or taking a prescription drug should contact an attorney immediately to ensure his or her potential legal claim can be filed in a timely manner.
Types of med-mal cases in Broward County
The following are the most common types of medical malpractice cases our attorneys see:
The though of a surgeon operating on the wrong body part may sound like the plot of a horror movie. Nevertheless, nearly 2,500 patients experience this event as their reality each year in the United States. An additional 200 to 300 patients each year receive medically unnecessary surgeries as a result of the surgeon operating on the wrong person. Performing an unnecessary procedure as a result of mistaken patient identity and operating on the wrong body part are examples of more common surgical errors and mistakes. Nearly 75 percent of surgical errors occur during the patient’s surgical procedure while the remaining percentage takes place during the preoperative or postoperative care periods. The deadliest errors often involve misuse of anesthesia, which may result in brain death before healthcare staff are able to take action to provide curative treatment. Other examples of surgical errors and mistakes include:
- leaving surgical instruments and other foreign objects in the patient’s body;
- damage to Nerves;
- punctured organs;
Example: If a patient is admitted to the hospital to have a surgical procedure performed and he or she develops a staph infection as a result of medical staff not properly cleaning and dressing the patient’s surgical wound, the patient may sue for malpractice. Secondary infections are not uncommon in hospital settings; however, in this case, there is a direct connection between the medical staff’s failure to perform their duty of providing proper postoperative care to the patient and the patient developing an infection.
Some drugs and medical devices may have known side effects. Nevertheless, patients are entitled to a reasonable expectation that a prescribed treatment will help the patient more than cause harm. However, manufacturers are sometimes able to bring drugs and devices to the market without properly testing to determine the potential for long-term complications. The result may be severe patient side effects or even death in some cases. Injured patients, or in cases that result in a patient’s death or becoming otherwise incapacitated, certain surviving family members may file a claim to receive compensation for the patient’s injuries. In order to prevail in an action against a drug or medical device manufacturer, a personal injury lawyer for the injured party must establish a link between the defective drug or device prescribed by the patient’s doctor and the severe side effect the patient experienced.
Example: Sometimes, doctors may mass prescribe new drugs that are touted as medical breakthroughs, and patients later discover the drug has severe, undisclosed side effects. for example, patients who are prescribed a drug to treat migraines may later file suit if it is discovered that the drug exposes users to a heightened risk of developing melanoma. Those who develop melanoma may receive compensation for damages and expenses including treatment and lost wages. If the resulting melanoma causes the death of some patients, their family members may file a claim to be compensated for other damages, including loss of companionship.
LABOR / DELIVERY NEGLIGENCE
In some cases, a medical professional or facility may deviate from providing an acceptable standard of care and cause injury to a mother or child during labor or delivery. Common mistakes during labor and delivery include:
- inaccurately assessing risk to the mother and/or child;
- failure to recommend C-section when appropriate;
- causing nerve damage to the mother due to improperly inserting an epidural needle;
- failure to adequately monitor an unborn child for signs of stress or asphyxia;
- causing shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus injury as a result of tugging on a baby’s shoulder during birth.
Parties who are injured as a result of labor and delivery negligence may sue for medical bills, special equipment and housing, loss of income, future medical expenses, child’s disability, and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer for the injured party must prove the doctor caused the patient’s injury by breaching a duty the doctor owed to the patient.
Example: Medical technology has advanced to prevent a mother from passing certain infections on to her child during delivery. Examples of these infections include strep, e. coli, and a variety of sexually transmitted diseases with which the mother may have been diagnosed prior to conceiving the child. If the hospital fails to take proper precautions to identify or treat the infection in the mother and the child is infected as a result of exposure during birth, the mother may file suit on the child’d behalf to receive compensation for the injury to the child’s health.
SPINAL CORD & BRAIN INJURIES
Medical malpractice may result in a brain or spinal cord injury in several different ways. In some cases, medical staff may fail to properly monitor a patient who may be especially susceptible to slipping and falling due to age, injury, or medication that causes dizziness. Misdiagnose may cause a delay in treating a condition that may negatively affect the central nervous system if left untreated. A surgical error such as accidentally injuring the brain or spinal cord while performing surgery in an adjacent area may cause injury to the central nervous system.
Example: If a patient has a tumor that is operable, but the medical provider unnecessarily delays the procedure, the tumor may spread and affect other parts of the body. Tumors in or near the neck and head may spread to the neck and head, causing injury to the central nervous system. If a patient experiences a spinal cord injury or brain damage due to an operable tumor that is left to spread, the patient may file suit for his or her injury, additional treatment, lost wages for additional time off work, and possibly for other limitations imposed by his or her disability.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT ERROR
Many medical malpractice lawsuits allege a medical professional or healthcare facility misdiagnosed a condition or delayed treatment to the extent that the delay resulted in injury to the patient. In these cases, a doctor’s decision may lead to incorrect diagnoses, delayed diagnosis, or no diagnosis at all, which may result in severe injury or even death if the patient’s condition remains mismanaged or untreated. Diagnosis and treatment errors are especially common in emergency room settings as patients often visit emergency rooms in pursuit of immediate answers in urgent situations. The fast pace of the emergency room setting also lends itself to a greater likelihood for mistreatment and misdiagnosis. While a diagnosis and treatment errors does not necessarily automatically constitute a legal cause of action, patients may receive compensation if they are able to establish their doctor behaved in a manner that was negligent and caused injury to the patient.
Example: A doctor may prescribe a new drug to a patient because he or she, in his or her trained, informed medical opinion, believes the drug is better suited than others to treat the patient’s condition. However, if, for example, the doctor fails to inform the patient, who happens to be a smoker, that the new treatment has a risk of causing severe hypertension in patients who smoke, the patient may file a claim if he or she develops high blood pressure and and has a stroke after taking the medicine.
What are Florida’s statutes of limitations for malpractice cases?
In Florida, injured parties in medical malpractice cases must file suit within two years of the date the patient, or in some cases the patient’s family, knew or should have known through reasonable diligence that the injury had occurred and that there was a reasonable possibility medical malpractice was the cause. Determining the start of the two year period can be very complicated in some cases because it may take some time for a patient to become aware of the injury and to determine that malpractice may have been the cause. In addition to the statute of limitations, Florida has a strict statute of repose which states patients may not file a claim against healthcare provider for medical malpractice more than four years after the act of malpractice took place. An exception to the statute of repose is made for cases that involve fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation.
Medical malpractice cases are often more complex than other personal injury cases because the patient typically does not have an immediate reason to suspect his or her medical provider committed a negligent or reckless error that may have caused additional injury. Oftentimes, patients may think the pain and abnormalities they are experiencing are part of the healing process. The date at which a patient realistically should have discovered something was wrong and that the medical service provider may be at fault is often some time after the date on which the medical procedure was performed. Therefore, simply determining when to file and whether a claim might be dismissed based on the statute of limitations is a task for a medical malpractice attorney A personal injury lawyer can help injured patients receive the medical examinations they need to properly document the injury and to establish the cause. The attorney will also illustrate the connection between the medical professional’s behavior and the patient’s injury to help the patient obtain the compensation he or she deserves.
Because Florida has a strict statute of repose, patients, or in some cases the patient’s family members, should contact a lawyer immediately to allow the attorney to gather the important facts and file the patient’s claim in a timely manner. In cases that involve fraud, patients especially need the help of an injury attorney to do the legwork in proving the doctor, medical staff, or healthcare facility made misrepresentations that impacted the timeline upon which the patient discovered the injury to the date the patient files a claim in court. Even in cases in which the patient simply suspects malpractice may have taken place, it is better to err on the side of caution and to contact a lawyer to determine whether a cause of action exists. Delaying may cause the patient to risk losing his or her opportunity to file a claim.