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Every day, millions of Americans trust their health—and the health of their loved ones—to doctors, nurses, hospital staff and other medical professionals. These individuals have undergone years of rigorous training and study in order to provide their patients with the highest quality diagnosis and treatment techniques available. This is termed the accepted medical standard of care. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to meet this standard of care, he or she must be held accountable for medical malpractice.
If you or someone you know has been injured or lost a loved one at the hands of a medical professional, please contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300. We fight for justice for clients throughout Florida and nationwide.
Medical malpractice takes many different forms, and it can have a devastating impact on the victim and the victim’s family. There are several details you should know about medical malpractice lawsuits as well as the vast variety of instances where you can file a claim including:
- What is Medical Malpractice?
- Medical Negligence
- Medical Malpractice Resulting in Death
- Surgical Errors
- Emergency Room Errors
- Prescription Errors
- Anesthesia Overdose
- Dental Malpractice
- Substance Abuse Among Surgeons
- Birth Injuries
- Delayed Diagnosis
- How Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter Can Help
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens any time you or a loved one suffers unnecessary complications or is otherwise injured as the result of a doctor or medical professional’s mistake or negligence.
Medical error or negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States. This puts the number of deaths caused by medical professionals just behind heart disease and cancer. This is an astonishing fatality rate, and there is not nearly enough outrage across the country for those who deviate from the accepted standard of care and cause the death of the vary patient they are sworn to “do no harm.”
To add to this, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued results of a study showing that one out of seven Medicare hospital patients is injured each month by medical mistakes. Around 15,000 Medicare patients are killed. That’s a lot, considering only 15 percent of the country is enrolled in Medicare. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states nearly 100,000 people die from preventable hospital infections in this country alone every year.
These statistics only evaluate the deaths caused by medical malpractice. There are countless others who suffer irreversible injuries and bare the physical, psychological and financial burden of lifelong consequences resulting from these mistakes.
The effects of medical malpractice or medical negligence can be life threatening and lead to long-term disabilities. For instance, failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis can prevent a patient from recovering from a potentially treatable disease. Also, hypoxia and cerebral palsy are both forms of medical malpractice that affect the brain and can cause permanent disabilities.
Essentially, medical malpractice means that your physician or other medical professional failed to provide the standard of care that a similarly trained or experienced person would have provided, and that lack of proper care harmed the patient. Interestingly, it is estimated that the vast majority of incidents of medical malpractice are never reported.
Medical negligence is often confused with medical malpractice. While the terms can be used interchangeably, negligence is only a single aspect of a medical malpractice claim. Negligence alone is not grounds for a medical malpractice case; you must prove that the negligence resulted in your injuries. This can be a complex process, requiring a deep understanding of medical science as well as medical law.
The standard of care that medical professionals are required to adhere to is the sum of medical and scientific knowledge accumulated over centuries of study and discovery. This knowledge is the tool with which doctors diagnose and treat patients. You can think of the medical standard of care as a sort of “playbook” that outlines the rules for patient treatment under different circumstances.
If a doctor encounters a patient for whom he or she does not know the proper treatment, they are required to either seek an answer from established documentation or request a professional opinion from a specialist.
Some examples of medical negligence include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Surgical errors
- Prescription errors
- Emergency room errors
- Anesthesia overdose
In order to legally prove medical negligence, an expert medical witness must be consulted to examine the case and provide an opinion. Our firm works with a team of medical experts to uncover the facts in your case and establish fault. Our Florida attorneys’ thorough investigative process has helped countless victims of medical negligence receive the compensation they need to recover from undue injuries.
Medical Malpractice Resulting in Death
When the negligent medical care of doctors, nurses, hospitals or other medical professionals results in the wrongful death of your loved one, you may be entitled to receive compensation. There are many different types of medical errors that can lead to the death of a patient.
Family members can collect damages from medical professionals, medical institutions or corporations responsible for the unexpected death of a patient. It's important to contact an experienced attorney immediately if you suspect your loved one died due to the neglect of someone else. There is a statute of limitations that varies from state to state, which is determined by the date of the injury and the circumstances of the medical malpractice.
Our lawyers have the skills, background and resources to help you receive the compensation you need to move on with your life. We will analyze medical records and interview all medical staff involved to determine who is at fault for the death of your loved one.
We'll ask the following questions:
- Did your doctor order the necessary lab tests?
- Did the medical professional assess biopsy or radiographic tests correctly?
- Was the appropriate medical specialist consulted?
- Were changes in the patient’s condition closely monitored?
- Were abnormal conditions or injury recognized with your unborn baby?
Wrongful death can occur from medical neglect and various misdiagnoses and errors. Medical professionals who have breached the standard of care can be found liable for the unexpected death of a patient in many instances including untreated infection and nursing home abuse.
Damages awarded for wrongful death by medical malpractice depend on the relationship to the deceased. For example:
- Parents 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.
Surgical error refers to mistakes by surgeons and/or hospital staff members during surgical procedures, causing serious complications, severe injury or even death to their patients.
Types of surgical errors include:
- Slips of your physician’s scalpel, which may slice into organs or other vital tissues in close proximity to your surgical site.
- Surgical instrument(s) left in your body—these can include scalpels, sponges, retractors or surgical towels as well as other surgical instruments.
- Surgery that is unrelated to your medical condition.
- Wrong surgical procedure—whether on your correct body part or not. This also includes removing the wrong part of your body.
- Wrong-site surgery—these are comprised of operating on the wrong organ, limb or other areas of your body.
- Administering the wrong blood type.
- Failure to carefully review all charts and instructions prior to surgery.
- Incorrect anesthesia or overdose of anesthesia.
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 mistakes that can cause serious medical problems. Emergency room errors can cause a patient who is looking for help to suffer even greater consequences.
There are many reasons for emergency room errors to occur. In a stressful workplace like an emergency room, even the smallest error can cause large problems when it is built upon. 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 diagnoses, blood transfusion errors and omissions errors.
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 because of misunderstanding your test results, using incorrect diagnostic tools for your condition or not responding to your abnormal test results—which then causes prescribing you 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 mistakes
- 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
Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist’s negligent actions result in an injury during your treatment. 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.
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.
Substance Abuse Among Surgeons
There are many reasons why medical errors are committed. Unfortunately, an alarming number of these errors are caused by substance abuse. Simply put, this is unacceptable. Medical professionals have an obligation to remain sober when working with patients, and there is no excuse for risking the lives of patients by administering care under the influence.
The Archives of Surgery found that 15% of surgeons—approximately 1 out of 6—admit to having a drinking problem. This figure is significantly higher than the 9% alcoholism rate experienced by the general population.
It is likely that the demanding nature of a surgeon’s job contributes to this high rate of alcoholism. Surgeons:
- Have one of the highest rates of emergency calls.
- Log more after-hours work time than other medical specialties.
- Must perform tasks that require a higher level of energy and concentration than is necessary in other medical specialties.
The study compiled survey data completed by approximately 7,200 surgeons. Researchers believe that the figure may actually underestimate the rate of alcohol abuse among surgeons since it is likely that many doctors who suffer from alcoholism may have chosen not to respond.
How Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter Can Help
Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter has over 80 years of combined experience, and we have successfully taken on medical providers and insurance companies in the past. You will receive first-rate representation and sound, compassionate guidance during the entire process. Our lawyers in Orlando will listen to your story and devise the most effective strategy based on your unique circumstance so that your best interests are always placed first.
Our medical malpractice attorneys will investigate your medical records, the medical staff and other parties involved to determine who is responsible for your injuries. You may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the person or place that caused your injury including the:
- Health clinic
- Dentist office
- Medical staff
- Nursing home
There is always a time limit on medical malpractice claims so it’s vital for you to contact our attorneys immediately to file your case before the statute of limitations is up. If we take your case, we will not charge you any attorney fees upfront, but will work on a contingency basis and accept our payment only after we win an award for you.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to medical negligence or error, please call our medical malpractice lawyers in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300 or contact us online. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter provides experienced legal services to clients who have suffered a personal injury or lost a loved one in Orlando, Florida and nationwide.