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.
Preventable 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.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff underwent a laparoscopic total hysterectomy and consented to the risks and benefits of the surgery. During the surgery, the defendant (physician) placed one of the instruments too close to an organ. To avoid potential injury, the defendant re-positioned the instrument and then confirmed there was no injury before proceeding. Prior to completing the surgery, the defendant re-examined the patient and felt confident that there were no injuries.
A day following the surgery, the plaintiff was complaining of various medical issues, so the defendant decided to consult other physicians to properly address the plaintiff’s complaints. The next day, the plaintiff was still having unresolved issues, so the defendant ordered a scan and had to shift care to another provider prior to going off duty. The defendant was told upon her return to duty that the plaintiff underwent a surgery to identify and repair a bowel injury.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant negligently injured her bowel during the initial surgery, did not detect the injury, and failed to get the proper surgical consultation. The plaintiff presented expert testimony, which stated that the standard of care was not upheld in terms of adequately inspecting for injuries. The circuit court granted a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded her damages.
The defendant claimed on appeal that there was no evidence that anything could have been done differently had the surgery consultation been done the same day. Without expert testimony from a surgeon stating that the outcome would have been different, the court reasoned that it was not possible to state the plaintiff’s injuries were due to any potential medical negligence. Therefore, the court reversed the initial ruling on the basis that causation was not found.
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing victims and their families in a wide range of Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases. To learn how we can help you, call 877-448-8585 today.
More Blog Posts:
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claims in Florida, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 21, 2017.
Accident Victims Should Not Be Pressured to Accept Settlement Offers by Pushy Florida Insurance Adjusters, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 5, 2018.