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Court Rules Claim Based on Florida Hospital’s Failure to Transfer Patient Was Based on a Theory of Medical Malpractice

A Florida appellate court recently issued an opinion in a consolidated petition addressing whether a claim stemming from an emergency room physician’s failure to transfer a patient for financial gain is sound in medical malpractice. According to the record, the decedent visited an emergency room for treatment for several medical conditions. While she was there, the emergency room physicians determined that she needed to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). However, the hospital’s ICU was at capacity, so instead of transferring the woman, they left her in the hallway for several hours, where she eventually died.

The family filed a lawsuit against the hospital, alleging that the only reason they admitted the decedent was to generate hospital revenue. Further, they contended that this decision led to her treatment by the physician who caused her death. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit before engaging in the pre-suit investigation process, required by Florida law.

Under Florida law, medical malpractice plaintiffs must abide by specific filing deadlines and procedural requirements. Florida statute of limitations imposes a deadline by which a plaintiff must file a lawsuit against a negligent health care provider. Typically, plaintiffs must file their lawsuits within two years of discovering the injury or when they should have reasonably discovered the injury. Still, the lawsuit cannot be filed more than four years from when the negligent conduct occurred. There are some exceptions when the health care provider engages in fraud to conceal their malpractice. Additionally, there are certain exceptions for minors or those who lack capacity.

In addition to the statute of limitations, Florida requires plaintiffs to serve a notice of intent to sue on the negligent medical professional. This notice must include an affidavit from a medical expert affirming that the plaintiff has a viable medical malpractice claim. This notice starts off a complicated procedure for potential settlements and lasts 90 days. During this time, the statute of limitations is tolled. However, if the health care professional indicates that they do not intend to settle, the victim has 60 days or whatever is leftover of the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.

Plaintiffs may face issues when a defendant claims that the lawsuit is based on a theory of medical malpractice, and the plaintiff failed to follow the procedural regulations of a medical malpractice lawsuit. In such cases, the court will review the claim to determine whether the lawsuit is based in medical malpractice. If the court determines it does, then the case may be dismissed for the plaintiff’s failure to comply.

In this case, the court was tasked with deciding whether the plaintiff’s claim arose out of the failure to render medical care or services. Here, the court explained that the plaintiff’s claim stemmed from the emergency room doctor’s decision to admit their loved one instead of transferring her to another facility. To prove their claim, plaintiffs will need to establish that the doctor’s decision was improper. They will need to provide a medical expert to attest to the doctor’s medical judgment and departure from the professional standard of care. As such, the court found that the plaintiff’s claim was based on medical negligence, and therefore they granted the defendant’s motion and remanded the case for additional proceedings.

Have You Suffered Injuries and Damages Because of a Negligent Florida Healthcare Provider?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries because of a negligent Florida medical professional, you should contact the attorneys at Friedman, Rodman, Frank & Estrada, P.A. Florida medical malpractice cases require a comprehensive and detailed understanding of complex statutory and procedural rules. The attorneys at our law firm have an extensive history successfully representing clients in these, and other types, of complicated injury cases. We provide our clients with top-notch representation to help them pursue the compensation they deserve. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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