You go to the doctor expecting to get better. Unfortunately, many patients each year suffer significant injury, adverse reactions, and – worst of all – death as a result of medical errors. We place enormous trust in doctors, surgeons, and other medical providers, but negligence or misconduct on the part of these professionals can have serious consequences for our health, our ability to make a living, and the lives of our families.
At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, we have seen the devastating impacts of medical malpractice many times. From the parents whose vision of the future for their child has been shattered due to errors in the delivery room to the family left without a provider because a terminal illness was not diagnosed in time, our medical malpractice attorneys know the toll a doctor or other healthcare professional’s negligence can take.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of medical malpractice, call (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience serving clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.
Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Not every patient who suffers an adverse outcome is the victim of medical malpractice. Some patients’ health declines and they even pass away in spite of the best efforts of their medical team. In addition, medical malpractice is not simply a mistake on the provider’s part.
The following must be established for your claim against a healthcare provider to rise to the level of malpractice:
- You or your loved one had a patient relationship with the provider in question.
- The provider’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care.
- The “standard of care” is a legal term for the duties of a doctor or other medical provider in a given situation; in effect, the professional did not do what a competent provider would have done in treating your case.
- You or your loved one suffered injury as a result of substandard care.
- The injury resulted in damages, or losses for which you are entitled to compensation.
Before you can file your medical malpractice claim, Florida law requires you to provide notice to the healthcare provider of your intent to sue. This notice of intent must include an affidavit from an independent medical practitioner certifying the merit of your claim.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Medical malpractice can be committed by any professional in the healthcare field, including doctors, nurses, surgeons, and more. Unfortunately, this means that errors can occur at one or more points in a patient’s treatment. As a result, instances of medical malpractice are often difficult to identify.
Our medical malpractice lawyers thoroughly investigate to determine who is at fault for your injuries or the death of your loved one. Examples of medical malpractice include:
Surgical error refers to mistakes by surgeons and/or hospital staff members before, during, and after surgical procedures. These errors can cause serious complications, severe injury, or even death to patients.
Types of surgical errors include:
- Slips of the physician’s scalpel, which may slice into organs or other vital tissues in close proximity to the surgical site.
- Surgical instrument(s) left in the body – these can include scalpels, sponges, retractors, surgical towels, and other foreign objects.
- Surgery that is unrelated to your medical condition.
- Waiting too long to perform a medically necessary surgery.
- Wrong-procedure surgery – The incorrect surgery may be performed on the correct body part.
- Wrong-site surgery – Alternatively, the correct surgery may be performed on the wrong organ, limb, or another part of the body.
- Wrong-patient surgery – The procedure scheduled for one patient may be wrongly performed on another patient.
- Administering the wrong blood type.
- Failure to explain the risks of surgery or obtain informed consent.
- Failure to carefully review all charts and instructions prior to surgery.
- Incorrect anesthesia or overdose of anesthesia.
- Failure to monitor patients post-op for complications.
- Failure to diagnose and treat postoperative infections.
Surgery always carries risks. However, negligence on the part of a surgeon or other provider can carry long-term consequences for your health, your bodily function, and your life.
Unfortunately, an alarming number of surgical errors may be the result of substance abuse. According to a survey by the Archives of Surgery, more than 15 percent of surgeons report abuse of and dependence on alcohol.
Obstetrics is the medical specialty devoted to the birth of children. Obstetricians and obstetrician-gynecologists (OBGYNs) are responsible for counseling and treating expectant mothers during pregnancy and ensuring that babies are born safely.
Errors on the part of an OBGYN and other providers involved in prenatal care and delivery can endanger the mother and increase the risk of birth injury for the baby. These errors may include:
- Failure to monitor the mother for pre-existing medical conditions and infections that could endanger her health or the health of the baby
- Failure to perform genetic screening of the fetus for life-threatening conditions
- Failure to plan for or perform a medically necessary cesarean section (C-section)
- Failure to monitor the mother before and during labor
- Errors in the administration of oxytocin (a drug used to induce labor)
- Improperly using forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery
- Failure to deliver a baby in fetal distress
- Failure to stop maternal bleeding
The maternity ward should be the part of the hospital where new lives begin and families are forged. Unfortunately, despite the latest advances in medicine and the teams of doctors, nurses, and other providers dedicated to caring for mothers and babies, serious and sometimes fatal errors may still occur.
Emergency Room Errors
The emergency room is one of the most difficult places for a medical professional to work. In the rush to save lives, there can be miscommunications and other errors that can cause or exacerbate serious medical problems. Emergency room errors can cause a patient who is looking for help to suffer even greater consequences.
There are many reasons that emergency room errors occur. In a stressful workplace like an emergency room, even the smallest error can cause large problems due to the number of staff members who typically work on the same patient.
Some of the most common causes of emergency room errors are:
- Inexperienced or untrained staff
- Lack of medical records
- Testing errors
- Delayed test results
- Equipment failure
- Unsanitary equipment
- Failure to perform the correct tests
The effects of an emergency room error can change a patient’s life forever. Some of the most common forms of emergency room error that can have serious consequences include medication errors, delayed diagnosis, blood transfusion errors, and omissions of critical medical information.
Prescribing the wrong medicine may include an error by your physician writing the prescription or a mistake by your pharmacist in filling the prescription. Prescription errors also happen at hospitals when overworked staff members actually administer the wrong medicine.
A prescription medicine error may be caused by:
- Confusing the name of your drug with another similarly named drug.
- Failing to ask you about your history of drug allergies or about other medications you may be taking.
- Improperly prescribing medicines for “off-label” or unapproved uses.
- Misdiagnosing your condition due to misunderstanding your test results, using incorrect diagnostic tools for your condition, or not responding to abnormal test results. As a result of these errors, you are prescribed the wrong medication.
- Ordering the wrong dosage based upon your physical condition or age.
- Prescribing the administration of your medication at the incorrect time or using the incorrect method.
- Prescribing the wrong medication for the treatment of your condition.
- Writing your medication name incorrectly or writing an unreadable drug name.
Even if the right medication was prescribed, you might have had an adverse reaction to the medicine that wasn’t properly treated after the fact. This could also be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, pharmacist, or another healthcare provider responsible for your injuries.
Anesthesia overdose is a potentially deadly surgical error that is entirely preventable. An anesthesiologist is a medical professional dedicated solely to administering your anesthesia and monitoring you for the proper level of consciousness and signs of distress during surgery. If the anesthesiologist fails, then there could be serious side effects.
The use of general anesthesia has become a routine practice, but it still carries considerable risk and must be performed by a highly skilled specialist. Patients under anesthesia must be closely monitored at all times.
Errors that can lead to anesthesia overdose include:
- Dose too large
- Failure to monitor patient
- Misread chart
- Improperly labeled anesthesia
- Communication error
- Intoxicated operating room staff
- Equipment malfunction
- Adverse drug interactions
Anesthesia overdose can cause death on the operating table, but often the patient dies in the recovery room where monitoring becomes more lax.
Other anesthesia errors can be just as harmful as an overdose including:
- Intubation errors
- Improper administration of oxygen
- Delayed anesthesia administration
- Too little anesthesia
- Failure to provide patient with proper instructions for eating and drinking prior to surgery
- Improper administration of epidural
Anesthesia errors often involve lack of oxygen and distress during surgery. When a patient is properly monitored and the situation is quickly addressed, injury can usually be prevented.
Injuries resulting from overdose or misapplication of anesthesia include:
- Brain injury
- Heart attack
- Central nervous system damage
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Birth defects
- Awareness and/or pain during surgery
Anesthesia awareness is being conscious and often in pain during surgery, but paralyzed and unable to communicate. It is the result of too little anesthesia or delayed delivery.
Anesthesia awareness can have long-term psychological consequences, including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic and anxiety disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Extreme fear of doctors and medical settings
As with surgical errors, anesthesiologist malpractice can affect patients in many different conditions. Negligence in the administration of anesthesia can harm babies in their first moments, as well as children and adults who are undergoing a surgery that should save or improve their lives.
Some hospitals are practically small towns unto themselves. Large hospitals and medical centers often serve thousands of patients at a time, and they hire hundreds of workers to do so.
The hospital is responsible for the conduct of its employees. If a nurse, orderly, or other employee commits a serious error and a patient gets hurt or killed, the facility may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Hospitals may also be liable for injuries caused by improper administration (i.e., record-keeping errors, failure to institute and enforce procedures, etc.) and negligent hiring and supervision of employees.
It is important to note that many doctors who see patients at a hospital are not employees of that hospital. Although the medical error may have occurred in a hospital setting, the doctor’s employment status with the hospital (i.e., an employee or an independent contractor) may determine whether or not you can also file a claim against the facility for the doctor’s malpractice.
When you visit the dentist, you have a right to feel confident that your dentist is providing you with quality care that adheres to the highest safety standards. Whether you are receiving a routine dental cleaning, having your wisdom teeth pulled, undergoing a root canal, or receiving treatment for gum disease, your dentist has an obligation to provide you with a level of care that meets the standards established by the dental profession.
Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist’s negligent actions result in an injury during your treatment. Common examples of dental malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose cancer in the mouth, tongue, or jaw
- Failure to diagnose or treat an infection
- Negligent cosmetic dentistry services which result in damage or disfigurement to your mouth
- Negligent care resulting in nerve injury or nerve root pain
- Surgical errors during wisdom tooth extractions or other oral surgery procedures
- Failure to obtain a patient’s consent for dental procedures performed
In order to recover compensation in a dental malpractice case, you will need to prove that your dentist deviated from the standard of care established by the dental community. Due to the rapid improvement of dental techniques, materials, and technology, this standard of care is constantly evolving.
Proving that your dentist failed to meet this accepted standard of care is not easy. You will need expert witness testimony from other dental professionals clearly demonstrating the ways that your dentist’s care was negligent. Our lawyers work with a team of forensic dental experts who will carefully analyze your case and provide the testimony necessary to help you prove negligence.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Florida law requires patients and surviving family members to file a medical malpractice claim within 2 years of the date of injury or death. This is not much time to take legal action, so it is important to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Patients who suffer injury due to medical negligence typically face a long road to recovery. They may experience a lifetime of challenges. For the family members of a patient who unexpectedly dies, the grief can be overwhelming.
Filing a medical malpractice claim may seem like the last thing you want to handle amid these struggles. However, hiring an attorney will enable you to focus on recovery while your lawyer focuses on building your case.
How Much Can You Get for a Medical Malpractice Case?
Patients who suffer medical malpractice typically face lasting, sometimes permanent injuries and complications. As a result, the damages in a medical malpractice claim are often significant.
The damages in your case will depend on the type of losses you have sustained and their monetary value. To recover the full value of your claim, these damages must be supported by the evidence.
Our medical malpractice lawyers will calculate the damages in your case and pursue all of the compensation to which you are entitled, including:
- Medical bills for treatment of the condition or injury caused by the malpractice
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if the injury or condition prevents you from working
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Out-of-pocket costs, including:
- Travel for medical appointments
- Home modifications, such as installation of a ramp or stair lift
- Vehicle modifications, such as specialized steering equipment, securements for a wheelchair or motorized scooter, or a lift
- Punitive damages
If your loved one died as a result of medical negligence, you and your family can pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. Different family members may be entitled to different damages:
- A spouse may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of financial contributions
- Loss of household services
- Parents of a minor child could be eligible to collect compensation for:
- Loss of companionship
- Potential financial contributions
- Large hospital bills
- Mental anguish
- A child who is a minor could be eligible to collect damages for:
- Monies that would have contributed to raising the child
- Mental anguish
- Physical and mental debilitation
- An adult child could be eligible to recover compensation for an inheritance.
Your claim is unique. Our medical malpractice lawyers will determine how much compensation you and your family deserve and strive to recover the maximum amount on your behalf.
Why Do I Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Claims involving medical negligence are extremely difficult to prove. Medical records are complex, and many patients are reluctant to question a practitioner’s judgment even after a subpar outcome.
Furthermore, the insurance companies for doctors, hospitals, and other providers know the extent of damages in medical malpractice claims. They may offer a small settlement amount, but insurers are likely to fight a claim for full compensation in court.
At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, our attorneys have decades of experience representing patients and their families in medical malpractice claims. We know how to obtain and review medical records, your chart, and other documents that are crucial for building your case. We also work with experts in many areas of medicine who can testify to errors the provider may have committed, what caused your injuries, and how they affect your life.
Our team also has a thorough knowledge of the state laws governing medical malpractice claims. We thoroughly build your case, collaborate with a qualified physician to attest to the merit of the claim, and handle the notice of intent to sue.
If the defendant is willing to settle your case, our lawyers negotiate on your behalf. If the defendant refuses to settle, we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit and represent you in court.
Who Is the Best Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Florida?
Anyone who takes legal action against a doctor or other healthcare provider naturally wants to find the best attorney. However, the term “best” is difficult to qualify.
Ultimately, the best lawyer for your medical malpractice claim is one who listens to your story, thoroughly investigates and builds your case, and tenaciously pursues full compensation on your behalf.
If you need help finding the best medical malpractice lawyer in Florida, consider doing the following:
- Read reviews from clients of the attorney or law firm. See what clients have to say about how their medical malpractice case was handled.
- View the firm’s verdicts and settlements. The best medical malpractice attorney will have achieved significant recoveries in claims similar to yours.
- Check out the lawyer’s awards and recognitions. Organizations such as Super Lawyers enable attorneys to recognize their peers in particular areas of legal practice. Recognition as a Top-Rated Medical Malpractice Attorney (especially on an ongoing basis) signals that that lawyer has earned a positive reputation among his/her peers for trying cases similar to your claim.
- Read the attorney’s bio. For each lawyer you consider, read about his or her qualifications online. An attorney who focuses on medical malpractice litigation should include prominent details of his or her experience in order to inform prospective clients.
Of course, there is no substitute for meeting with a lawyer in person to discuss your case. The initial consultation is often the way to determine if a particular attorney is the best for your needs and circumstances.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
With over a century of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter are among the most respected at handling medical malpractice claims in Central Florida. Some of the factors that set our law firm apart in this area of our practice include:
More than $40 million in verdicts and settlements recovered on behalf of medical malpractice victims.
Partner attorney Ronald Gilbert has more than 35 years of experience handling medical malpractice claims.
Multiple attorneys at our firm have been selected to Super Lawyers as Top-Rated Medical Malpractice Lawyers.
For a free review of your medical malpractice case, please call (407) 712-7300 today. Our medical malpractice lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.