Medical malpractice and medical negligence can occur in hospitals, doctors’ offices, surgical centers, as well as in other places. They can involve physicians, surgeons, chiropractors, dental specialists, psychiatrics, nursing homes, or other professionals involved in the medical community of treatment, care, and testing.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to comply with the prescribed duty of care and the result is harm (or death) to the patient. Many people confuse medical malpractice with the more common medical negligence. Malpractice has element of “intent” that negligence does not. The “intent” was (likely) not a malicious intent to cause harm to the patient. This type of “intent” is a legal term meaning that the medical provider had knowledge that they needed to take certain measures to treat a patient, and that without those measures, the patient could potentially suffer adverse consequences, but the provider fails to provide those extra measures anyway. An example of this may be that a provider failed to provide a costly diagnostic test because the patient didn’t have health coverage such as a woman who complains of a small lump in her breast, and the doctor feels it then diagnoses it as a benign calcification rather than sending her for a mammogram and perhaps a biopsy if the mammogram warranted such further treatment. The woman goes home and ignores that the lump is growing, and has no idea that it is actually breast cancer until it metathesizes into other areas of her body, and in less than two years, she is dead.
Medical negligence has nothing to do with intent. As the name implies, medical negligence occurs when a medical provider causes harm to a patient because of errors in medical judgment, omissions, or mistakes. An example would be when a healthy teenage boy is tackled during a football game and taken to the emergency room for pain in his chest, where the doctor diagnoses him as having bruised ribs. The boy then goes home and dies from a pulmonary embolism. Medical negligence can include misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, errors involving anesthesia administration, negligent prenatal care, negligent care during childbirth, prescribing the incorrect medication, prescribing an incorrect dosage of medication, and surgical mistakes such as puncturing or nicking another organ during surgery, leaving a surgical tool inside the patient, or failing to follow post-op protocol to avoid infection.
That being said, a provider’s rudeness, tardiness, or lack of seeming compassion or “bedside manner”, although aggravating (especially when you don’t feel your best), do not, in themselves, constitute “medical malpractice, negligence, or legal wrongdoing.” It’s also equally, if not more important to understand that all medical mishaps or negative outcomes do not equate to malpractice or medical negligence. The practice of medicine is not an exact science – a “routine” surgery may not go routinely through no fault of the surgeon, but because the patient had more wrong than expected once they were opened up.
In order to pursue a medical malpractice or medical negligence claim against a medical provider or facility, the facts must meet the threshold points prescribed by Florida law.
The fact is very few medical malpractice cases are ever actually filed. Medical malpractice and medical negligence lawsuits are complex as well as expensive to pursue. One of the costlier aspects of medical malpractice or medical negligence cases is selecting and hiring an “expert witness.” An expert witness, in this type of case, is another doctor with similar credentials and practice area experience as the provider who committed the alleged malpractice or negligence. The expert will carefully study all the pertinent medical records of the patient, and if they determine that a wrongdoing was actually committed, the attorney will then forge forward with the case.
If you or a family member was injured (or of your loved one died) due to a medical malpractice injury, you can’t go up against the medical clinic or doctor alone, but an experienced attorney can.
Contact Dean Burnetti Law to get the help you need today.