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Personal Injury · Wrongful Death · Medical Malpractice

The Basics of a Medical Negligence Claim

Going to see the doctor and agreeing to follow his/her recommendations for treatment of your medical issue requires a fair amount of trust in the correctness of the doctor’s education and experience. Most of the time, this trust is well-founded and no negative repercussions emerge from the doctor’s care. However, in those rare instances when a physician’s medical care does create more harm, legal action for medical malpractice may be necessary to compensate the patient for any losses and to warn future patients about the doctor’s past behavior. Three women in Jacksonville are facing this situation after a plastic surgeon subjected them to possibly unnecessary surgeries in order to receive reimbursement from a breast implant manufacturer. This story, published in the Florida Times-Union, discusses the multiple procedures each woman underwent and the physical and mental injuries allegedly caused by the doctor. If you believe you received negligent medical care and are contemplating initiating a lawsuit, it may be helpful to know what exactly medical negligence is under Florida law and the components of a medical negligence claim. Consequently, a discussion of these issues will appear below.

Medical Negligence

In order to show that a doctor provided negligent medical care, the person who was injured must show that the standard of care used by the doctor was below an acceptable level, and the patient was injured as a result. The standard of care is based on the “care, skill and treatment” considered acceptable and appropriate by other prudent doctors working in the same field of medicine. In addition, if the injury occurred during a medical intervention aimed at saving the patient’s life, the injured party must show the court that the injury was not something reasonably expected to harm the patient based on the surgery, medication and diagnostic testing administered. Further, just because someone sustained a medical injury does not automatically mean the doctor was negligent. The cause of the injury must be directly related to the doctor’s actions, and these actions must be in violation of the medical standard of care. However, if there is a foreign object in the patient’s body following a surgery, examination or diagnostic testing, that fact is enough to prove negligence by the doctor.

Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses play a pivotal role in most medical malpractice cases because courts use this testimony to determine if the type and level of care offered by the doctor who was allegedly negligent was a legitimately acceptable practice as compared to the standards used in a particular field of medicine. Given the large role of these witnesses, there are several provisions regulating who may testify as a medical expert in malpractice cases.

First, if the expert intends to testify about the professional standard of care, this person must be a licensed physician who has practiced in the same area as the doctor named in the case for at least the preceding three years. Second, if the doctor in the case is general practitioner, the expert witness testifying about the doctor’s treatment must have actively practiced as general practitioner for the last five years. Whether an expert has the required professional experience is determined by the medical customs and practices of physicians in the same locale and similar settings.

Contact a Malpractice Lawyer

If you have an injury related to medical treatment that you believe was negligent, it is important to consult a medical malpractice lawyer to see if your situation is worth pursuing legally. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber Del Prado offers legal representation on a variety of medical malpractice issues, including failure to diagnosis, medication errors and surgical mistakes. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

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