Victims of medical malpractice in Florida must comply with strict procedural requirements before being allowed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Florida law demands that a plaintiff complaining of medical malpractice perform an investigation into the reasonableness of their claim before pursuing legal action. Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs must submit a statement by a medical expert corroborating the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s malpractice claim. A plaintiff who fails to properly obtain and append such a report to their claim runs the risk of having the claim dismissed before being heard by the court. A Florida Court of Appeals recently ruled against a plaintiff on these grounds.
The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a woman who received care from the defendant in a Florida hospital complaining of abdominal pain. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant inappropriately discharged her before she obtained the needed treatment, causing her condition to worsen and eventually require surgery. The plaintiff pursued a medical malpractice claim against the defendant. As part of the pre-suit investigation process, the plaintiff obtained a statement from a gastroenterologist that corroborated the reasonableness of her claim. In response, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified because they did not work in a hospital setting. The trial judge denied the defendant’s arguments without putting any reasoning on the record, and the plaintiff’s case was set to proceed.
The defendant appealed the denial of their motion to the Florida Court of Appeals. On Appeal, the court noted that it is a statutory requirement for a trial court to put their reasoning on the record when accepting a medical expert opinion for purposes of the pre-suit investigation requirements for a Florida malpractice claim. Because the court’s ruling was not explained in the record, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and remanded the case to the trial court. Under this ruling, the plaintiff still may obtain relief, however, the ruling does make the process more timely and complicated.