Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit discussing the potential consequences that may arise when a plaintiff fails to properly follow all of the procedural requirements. Ultimately, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit against the defendant because the pre-suit notice provided by the plaintiff contained the affidavit of an infectious disease doctor, rather than that of an ophthalmologist, which was the specialty of the defendant doctors.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff underwent a surgery to repair droopy skin around her eye. The surgery was performed by one of the defendant doctors. The surgery went as planned, and another defendant doctor conducted the post-surgical examinations. Both defendant doctors were ophthalmologists.

After the surgery, the plaintiff developed an infection in her eye. The infection left her with serious visual impairments, dizziness, and a heightened risk of future infections. She filed a personal injury lawsuit, first naming the doctor who performed the surgery as the only defendant. Attached to this claim, the plaintiff included an affidavit from an ophthalmologist stating that the plaintiff’s case had merit.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued an opinion stemming from a lawsuit filed by the husband of a Navy lieutenant who died following complications from childbirth. The husband filed a lawsuit alleging that his wife’s death was caused by the negligence of the medical staff at a naval hospital. Ultimately, the court reluctantly affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit, based on the oft-criticized Feres doctrine.

Labor and DeliveryThe Facts of the Case

In 2013, a Navy lieutenant resigned from her position after she and her husband learned that they were expecting a child. Sadly, even though the woman’s pregnancy was normal, she died from severe hemorrhaging about four hours after her daughter’s delivery.

The Procedural Posture

Following the woman’s tragic death, her husband filed a lawsuit alleging that the hospital was negligent in their treatment of his wife and that their negligence resulted in her wrongful death. The district court dismissed the lawsuit based on the Feres doctrine.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion that raised an interesting issue that comes up in Florida personal injury cases from time to time. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss under which circumstances a jury’s zero-dollar damages award is insufficient as a matter of law and must be rejected.

MRI MachineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff woke up one evening with an excruciating headache, the worst she had ever experienced. She began to vomit and was also nauseous. Her symptoms did not subside after two days, and at that point, she went to the defendant hospital, thinking she had a bad case of food poisoning.

Despite telling the nurses that she had a terrible headache, that fact was not documented in the plaintiff’s chart. Instead, the plaintiff’s chart contained notes of gastrointestinal symptoms. The plaintiff was eventually released from the hospital without a diagnosis and was instructed to follow up with a primary care doctor in the near future.

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Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a case overturning a verdict that initially favored a surgical patient’s medical malpractice case. The reversal of this verdict highlights a primary element that is necessary for Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs. Here, the Supreme Court held that without sufficient evidence to show that a plaintiff’s injury was directly due to a preventable error, there is no way to ascertain causation.

SurgeryPreventable Injuries in Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical errors are now one of the leading causes of death in the United States and contribute significantly to non-fatal medical injuries as well. Although some differences exist among state-specific medical malpractice laws, the overriding definition is similar among all states.

In Florida, for a plaintiff to have a favorable outcome in a medical malpractice case, the first requirement is evidence that a medical professional was providing services to the patient. Following this, there must be testimony from a medical expert that the medical negligence was a result of a divergence from the standard of care. Most importantly, in Florida, it is necessary to illustrate that this medical negligence was the direct cause of the injury to the patient. If the plaintiff cannot illustrate that the prevention of this medical negligence would have also prevented their injury, the claim remains speculative at best.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing when summary judgment is appropriate in a car accident case involving the payment of future medical expenses. The case illustrates an important concept that is applicable in all Florida car accident cases when the at-fault driver’s insurance company disputes some aspect of the claim.

Doctor's CoatIn this case, the court determined that the expert witness testimony presented by the insurance company gave rise to a material issue as to whether the plaintiff’s continued medical care was a result of the accident. As a result, the court reversed a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was insured by the defendant insurance company. The insurance company acknowledged that the other driver was at fault and agreed to pay the plaintiff’s medical expenses in advance. In total, the insurance company covered approximately $53,000 of the plaintiff’s medical expenses.

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When a someone is injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries through a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. All Florida personal injury lawsuits, especially medical malpractice lawsuits, are subject to strict procedural requirements that must be followed. One of the most commonly encountered hurdles that Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs face is the timeliness requirement embodied in the statute of limitations.

Knee X-RayIn Florida, medical malpractice cases must be brought within two years of the date of the injury. In some cases, that timeframe can be extended if the plaintiff is young at the time of the injury or does not discover the injury until a later date. However, even under these circumstances, time is still of the essence because Florida’s statute of repose prevents a lawsuit from being filed more than four years after the injury unless there has been fraud or concealment.

A recent case illustrates how courts determine when a victim’s claim accrues – or when the clock starts ticking.

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Medical malpractice cases generally present complex scientific or medical concepts that are beyond the understanding of must jurors. For this reason, nearly all Florida medical malpractice cases require the testimony of experts to explain some of the issues in the case to the jurors. Experts can also offer their opinions about whether the care provided by a defendant doctor fell below the generally accepted standard of care.

Examination TableDue to the complex nature of Florida medical malpractice cases, Florida law places certain requirements on plaintiffs filing this type of case. One of the most important differences between medical malpractice cases and other personal injury cases is that medical malpractice cases are subject to a shorter statute of limitations. In Florida, a medical malpractice plaintiff must file their claim within two years of the incident (or, if the injury is not discovered until a later date, within two years of the plaintiff’s discovery of the injury).

A recent case presented a Florida appellate court with the chance to decide whether a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall accident should be considered a medical malpractice case.

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Earlier this month, the state’s Supreme Court issued a Florida medical malpractice opinion that will likely have a great impact moving forward. The case required the court to consider a patient’s right to privacy following an alleged medical malpractice event. Specifically, it addressed whether the patient loses their right to privacy in certain medical records once the patient dies. The court ultimately held that a patient’s right to privacy survives after death and may be asserted by a family member bringing a Florida wrongful death lawsuit.

Magnifying GlassThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who died while in the care of the defendant physician. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant doctor, and in response, the doctor requested certain medical records pursuant to the rules of discovery.

The particular rules of discovery invoked by the defendant required the plaintiff to disclose all of the health care providers that her husband saw in the years leading up to his death. Furthermore, the rules actually allowed for the defendant to have secret meetings with the medical care providers in the absence of the plaintiff or her attorney.

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Back in 2004, Florida citizens amended the Florida Constitution to include a “right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” This amendment became known as Amendment 7. In a recent Florida medical malpractice case, the state’s Supreme Court issued an opinion discussing the breadth of the amendment and whether common-law privileges held by medical providers can override the reach of Amendment 7.

Medical RecordsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure that was conducted by the defendant doctor. During the procedure, the plaintiff’s bile duct was severed. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the doctor was negligent in performing the surgery. The plaintiff also named the medical center where the procedure was performed as a defendant.

During pre-trial discovery, the plaintiff requested certain documents from the defendant, including records of other adverse medical events that occurred at the defendant medical center. The defendants objected to the plaintiff’s request for discovery, claiming that several privileges attached to the documents and that therefore they were not subject to the rules of discovery.

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Claims of medical negligence in Florida are subject to strict rules that, if ignored, may result in a case getting prematurely dismissed before it is ever even heard by a jury. For example, Florida medical malpractice cases must be filed within a certain period of time, as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. In addition, Florida medical malpractice claims must be accompanied by a pre-suit affidavit filled out by a medical professional, stating that the plaintiff’s case has merit in the professional’s opinion. Also, medical malpractice plaintiffs must take care to adequately allege the specific acts on which they are basing their case. A recent medical malpractice case out of Rhode Island illustrates how a plaintiff’s failure to comply with these procedural rules may result in unfavorable results.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff – a breast cancer survivor – decided to undergo reconstructive breast surgery. She discussed the idea with the defendant doctor, who explained the risks involved with the procedure. Specifically, due to the radiation that the plaintiff received in her left breast to treat the cancer, she was at an elevated risk of having complications on that breast.

The plaintiff initially agreed to have surgery on both breasts, despite the risks. However, in her complaint, she claims to have changed her mind and have decided to only proceed with the surgery on her right breast. She claims to have let the defendant know of her decision. The defendant’s version of the events is different. He claimed that the plaintiff never changed her mind, or if she did, he was not made aware of her decision to do so.

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