Articles Posted in Medical Negligence

Under Florida law, health care providers owe a duty to their patients. This duty requires doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to provide a certain level of care to their patients. When a medical professional fails to live up to this duty, and a patient is injured as a result, the patient may be able to pursue compensation through a South Florida medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical malpractice claims can be complex, and they often raise several unanticipated issues. One of the most critical early decisions that an injured patient must make is which parties to name as defendants. Of course, the medical professional whose negligence resulted in the patient’s injuries is an obvious choice. However, there may be other parties that can be named to improve a plaintiff’s chance of recovering compensation for their injuries.

This stands true for all Florida personal injury cases. And a common source of liability is an at-fault party’s employer. For example, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the negligent acts of their employee. Thus, employers are routinely named as defendants in cases involving an employee’s negligence. However, most medical professionals are legally classified as contractors rather than employees, making a respondeat superior claim difficult, if not impossible.

When a patient is injured after receiving negligent medical care, they may be able to pursue a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professionals they believe to be responsible for their injuries. Florida medical malpractice lawsuits, however, are subject to several additional requirements that can be burdensome for many prospective plaintiffs. For example, before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must determine that there are “reasonable grounds” for their claim by conducting a pre-suit investigation.

There are several other differences between medical malpractice cases and traditional negligence cases. For example, due to Florida’s medical malpractice damages cap, the number of damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs are capped at a lower amount than damages in traditional negligence claims. Finally, the stature of limitations in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit is just two years, whereas the statute of limitations for traditional personal injury cases is four years.

That being said, most Florida injury victims would prefer that their case be classified as one of traditional negligence. However, when a case arises in a quasi-medical setting, defendants routinely try to categorize a plaintiff’s claim as a medical malpractice claim. Depending on the nature of the claim, the stage of litigation, and the amount of time that has passed, this could completely defeat a plaintiff’s chance at recovering for their injuries. A recent case illustrates the types of arguments defendants make in hopes of successfully categorizing the plaintiff’s claim as one of medical malpractice.

Under Florida Statutes section 766.106, Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs must comply with certain additional procedural requirements. For example, a Florida medical malpractice plaintiff must provide pre-suit notice to the defendants, including a list of all of their medical providers for the two-year period prior to the incident as well as all providers seen subsequent to the incident. In addition, medical malpractice plaintiffs are subject to a shorter statute of limitations and must also present an expert affidavit in support of their claim.These additional requirements, while burdensome, may not seem like an insurmountable hurdle. However, in reality, defendants often attempt to raise a plaintiff’s failure to comply with the additional requirements as a defense after the lawsuit has been filed. Thus, a defendant may be successful in barring a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages by establishing that the plaintiff failed to comply, and by that point, it may be too late because the statute of limitations has expired.

Thus, the determination of whether a case is one of traditional negligence or medical malpractice is an important one. In a recent case, a state appellate court issued an opinion discussing the distinction between the two types of cases and which types of cases are likely to be considered ones involving claims of medical malpractice.

Continue Reading ›

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a personal injury case that discusses principles that often arise in Florida medical malpractice cases and other personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence gave rise to a case of medical malpractice against the defendant pharmacist in the wake of a medication error. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s testimony failed to establish that the pharmacy violated any professional duty of care, and thus the medical malpractice claim was dismissed.The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff suffered from serious medical issues requiring that he take certain medication. One day, the plaintiff’s wife went to pick up her husband’s prescription from the defendant pharmacy. The plaintiff’s wife was provided a single bag with two bottles inside. Neither bottle had the plaintiff’s name on it, and neither contained the proper medication.

The plaintiff’s wife, not noticing the error, gave the medication to her husband. Later that evening, she found the plaintiff on the floor near the front door to their home. The plaintiff’s wife did not notice anything that could have caused her husband to trip, and she concluded that he fell on his own. The pharmacy error was later discovered, and the couple subsequently filed a personal injury case.

Continue Reading ›

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that illustrates the importance of following all procedural and court rules in South Florida medical malpractice cases. In this case, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against a physician and pharmacy, claiming that they overprescribed medication. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the plaintiff’s late-filed notice of expert testimony should be admitted, and if not, whether the plaintiff’s claim must fail as a result.Ultimately, the court resolved both issues against the plaintiff, dismissing her case against both the pharmacy and the physician.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, a physician and a pharmacy. The deadline for pre-trial discovery passed, and the plaintiff had not identified any expert witness who would be testifying on her behalf. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and on the day that hearing was scheduled to be held, the plaintiff announced that she would be having an expert testify.

Continue Reading ›

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.

The 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.

Continue Reading ›

Earlier this month, one state’s appellate court issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case that required the court to determine whether the single doctor named as a defendant should be able to introduce evidence that there had originally been several other doctors named as defendants, but they had all settled with the plaintiff before the case reached trial. Ultimately, the court determined that the contested evidence was relevant to the case and should have been admitted.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of a man who died while he was being treated by the defendant doctor after he slipped and fell while playing racquetball. The defendant was one of several doctors who treated the plaintiffs’ loved one, and each of the other treating physicians had originally been named in the lawsuit. However, the plaintiffs agreed to settle the cases against the other physicians out of court and proceed to trial against only the defendant.

In a pre-trial motion, the plaintiffs asked the court to prevent the defendant from explaining to the jury that there were originally several other doctors named in the lawsuit, but they had reached settlements with the plaintiffs. Additionally, the plaintiffs asked the court to prevent the defendant from arguing that the subsequent acts of these other non-present doctors acted as an intervening cause of their loved one’s death. The trial court denied both of the plaintiffs’ motions, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Continue Reading ›

A United States District Court recently issued a decision that denied a plaintiff’s request to impose sanctions against a defendant for destroying evidence before trial on the plaintiff’s pharmacy error claim. The plaintiff had alleged that the defendant, who had already admitted to accidentally dispensing the wrong medication to the plaintiff, destroyed the evidence in order to gain an advantage in litigation against the plaintiff. The court ultimately rejected the plaintiff’s request for additional sanctions and damages against the defendant, ruling that the defendant’s admission of the pharmacy error made the evidence sought by the plaintiff irrelevant to the issues presented in the case. The court ruled that since the plaintiff’s case was not prejudiced by the defendant’s actions, the requested sanctions would not be appropriate.

Plaintiff’s Claim Arises After Pharmacy Accidentally Dispenses the Wrong Medication

According to an article discussing the court’s recent ruling in the case, the plaintiff in the case of Burton v. Walgreen Co. was a customer of the defendant who filled a prescription for valsartan tablets but was instead given a bottle containing both his prescribed medication as well as lithium tablets. The plaintiff consumed five of the pills before noticing the error and returning the medication. The plaintiff subsequently filed a pharmacy error lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that he suffered injuries as a result of the wrong medication being dispensed by the defendant.

Continue Reading ›

The first of several articles that are being released as part of a new series on pregnancy and birth-related issues by a popular national news network has a startling title. The piece, entitled “Why I Regret my Scheduled C-Section,” was written by journalist Lisa Ling as part of a larger segment that is being published by CNN called “This Is Birth,” which will address many issues that American families face when seeking professional medical care during a pregnancy.

Why the Author Regretted Her Elective C-Section

Part one of the newly published series explains how and why the author came to regret her decision to have a scheduled cesarean delivery of her second child. According to the facts discussed in the article, a late ultrasound of her first pregnancy revealed that the child’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and would need to be delivered by C-section. Her first C-section went as planned and without complications. When she became pregnant again, the author scheduled her second child to be delivered by C-section, a popular decision for mothers who have previously given birth by C-section. Unlike her first delivery, the author’s second C-section had complications and resulted in the author acquiring a dangerous and painful infection in the hospital. Although her baby and she ultimately recovered, the author clearly states that she did not thoughtfully consider the risks of a C-section compared to those of a natural birth, and shr regrets her decision to have the surgery.

Continue Reading ›

The Idaho Supreme Court recently published an opinion affirming a $4 million jury verdict in a wrongful death and medical malpractice case filed by the husband of a woman who died after complications from a liposuction procedure performed by the defendant. The award, which includes over $1,250,000 in non-economic damages, was enhanced by the jury’s finding that the defendants acted recklessly in caring for the deceased woman.

Liposuction Patient Dies After Unknown Bacteria Is Introduced into Her System

The wife of the plaintiff in the case of Ballard v. Silk Touch Laser had a liposuction procedure performed by the defendant in 2010. Less than one week after the procedure, she died of septic shock from an unknown bacteria that was allegedly introduced into her system during the procedure. The plaintiff’s wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the defendant had negligently failed to sterilize equipment before performing the procedure and sought damages from the defendant. After a jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded a verdict totaling over $4 million. The defendant appealed the verdict to the Idaho Supreme Court.

The Defendant Challenges the Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony

On appeal, the defendant challenged the plaintiff’s use of an anesthesiologist as an expert witness to give testimony as to the appropriate standard of care that the plaintiff’s wife was entitled to receive. The appellate court found that the defendant never objected to the plaintiff’s proposed expert during the trial and could not raise the issue for the first time on appeal. Although the court noted that the plaintiff’s proposed expert was legally qualified to give testimony, the defendant’s failure to object to the testimony earlier made his arguments impossible on appeal.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information