The field of medicine is often thought of as a science, one with fixed medical norms and expected results. However, this is seldom the case. The human body is incredibly complex, and the practice of medicine in itself is an art. Some medications work better on one patient than another; some doctors have differing opinions on how to treat the same disorder, and some illnesses manifest differently in each individual they affect. Accordingly, the outcomes of undertaking certain medical treatment, such as a pharmaceutical regiment or surgery, can differ depending on the patient or even the doctor.
Even when a medical professional does everything according to the textbook during surgery, a patient might have an unexpected adverse reaction to the anesthesia and die. In such cases, the medical outcome was obviously a negative one, but this does not mean that the doctor was negligent in performing the surgery. However, because medical professionals are humans, if a patient has a negative surgical outcome, what if it was because the patient was given too much anesthesia as the result of physician error? As not all negative medical outcomes are the result of physician negligence, the opposite is also true: not all negative medical outcomes happened by chance, and a medical error may be to blame. So if you or a loved one experienced unexpected and negative medical results after undertaking treatment with a doctor in Florida, what is the next step?
Investigating Florida Medical Claims
As you can imagine, if you go to the doctor for a cut on your arm that is not properly treated, and your arm is amputated as a result of a serious infection, your doctor will seldom admit that it was his fault. Instead, your doctor will likely claim that there was always a risk the infection would develop and may even try to blame you for your illness. This does not mean, however, that you should take that at face value. If you have experienced a negative medical result, even one you were warned about prior to undertaking treatment, you should always seek the advice of a qualified Clearwater medical malpractice attorney to discuss whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. In speaking with a Clearwater personal injury lawyer, she may be able to open an investigation into the cause of your injuries, which could include the following:
- Ordering your medical records and having them reviewed by an expert;
- Sending you for an independent medical examination with a doctor in the same field as the one you saw;
- Researching side effects and the normal course of treatment for your injuries and comparing that to your medical records; and
- Contacting the facility you were injured at and requesting any information on an internal meeting or investigation that occurred after you reported your injury, which is sometimes a sign that something went wrong.
Because medical claims are best reviewed by medical professionals, an experienced Tampa Bay medical malpractice attorney will have a team of go-to expert witnesses in the medical field who will be able to provide you with a neutral informed opinion about whether your negative medical outcome was caused by physician negligence.
Analyzing the Standard of Care in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases
A claim for “medical malpractice” in Florida, which is based on the negligent acts or omissions of a physician or medical facility, means that you are claiming your injuries were either caused by, left untreated, or made worse as a directed result of the actions or omissions of a Florida medical professional or medical facility. The legal standards applicable in a medical malpractice action are more stringent than those that would apply for say, a car accident. In a medical malpractice case, the injured person is required to prove that the healthcare provider, i.e., treating doctor, breached “the prevailing professional standard of care.” In order to prove this, Florida law requires you to show that the injury you suffered as a result of the treatment would not have been a reasonably foreseeable result of the treatment if another doctor, in accordance with the reasonable standard of care, had treated you. This is why submitting to an independent medical examination after an injury is important. For example, if you break your leg and require surgery to set the bone, there are certain injuries that are reasonably associated with that surgery, such as scarring, pain, and an inability to walk for a time. You will suffer from those injuries even if the doctor is acting in accordance with the standard of care; accordingly, there is no medical malpractice action to be had because you are unable to walk for a time. On the other hand, if Doctor Adam performs the surgery and uses a tool that is unsterile, which results in infection and then amputation of the leg, he likely did not perform in accordance with the standard of care, as Doctors Brian, Carol, and Debbie would never have done so had they performed the surgery.
Florida Expert Witnesses and Independent Doctors
Although you can recover for medical errors in Florida, it is your burden to establish that the doctor breached the standard of care in his field. Further, you must show that the breach itself caused the injury. Just because a doctor was listening to music while he operated on you, which could cause distraction, if this distraction did not cause or contribute to your injury then you might not be able to recover damages. In order to prove negligence in a medical malpractice case, it is almost always necessary to bring in an expert witness, i.e., another doctor, to testify on your behalf. Under Florida law, “if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact [jury or judge] in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion.” Further, economic experts can work with your medical experts to calculate the reasonable cost of your additional medical bills as a direct result of the malpractice.
Contact a Clearwater, Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you suffered a negative result after a visit with your doctor, don’t take your doctor’s word as to the cause at face value. Always contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney immediately. In medical malpractice and negligence cases, it is essential to gather medical evidence early after your injury occurs so as to avoid claims that the injury or illness was not linked to the doctor’s treatment. A Clearwater personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer can help connect you with the right expert witnesses to testify on your behalf to prove your claims. The Dolman Law Group has the medical malpractice experience you need in order to get you answers after a negative medical result. They are your premier medical malpractice attorneys in the greater Tampa Bay area. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your injuries.