Medical Malpractice FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Learn About Medical Negligence From Experienced Florida Injury Attorneys
The Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer almost 130 years of combined experience litigating medical malpractice cases throughout Florida.
In this medical malpractice FAQ, our lawyers answer some common questions about medical malpractice lawsuits. You may also want to review some of our past notable medical malpractice cases. For tips on preventing medical malpractice, please review our consumer resources page containing advice on safety at the doctor's office and the hospital.
If you have questions about a specific medical malpractice claim, contact our Florida injury lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.
What is medical malpractice?
A doctor has a duty to give patients proper medical care within a reasonable standard set by doctors within the same medical field in that community. This "standard of care" test is used to determine whether or not a doctor has committed medical malpractice by doing something he should not have done or failing to do something he should have done, resulting in his medical care falling below the "standard of care" and thus constituting medical malpractice.
What do I do if I suspect my doctor has done something wrong?
First, you must consult with an attorney immediately to preserve your right to file a claim. Florida law favors negligent doctors in that it shortens the amount of time you have to file a claim against the doctor for his wrongful behavior. A person has only two years to file a medical malpractice claim from the time he or she knew or should have known that his or her doctor did something wrong. This period amounts to only half the amount of time a person has to file a claim for most other types of injuries.
What can I do now to help preserve my rights?
Aside from consulting an attorney, you must preserve evidence. For example, keep your prescription bottles (even if empty), as well as any type of medical equipment used (e.g., crutches). Keep receipts for all expenses associated with your injury (prescriptions, medical equipment, insurance copayments). Take pictures of any scarring, bruising, discoloration and/or swelling. Keep a diary of how you feel each day, how you are limited by your injury, which doctors you see and what medicine you take. Try to get your medical records from your physician, or the hospital, so you may use them while consulting with your attorney as to your claim.
Am I barred from pursuing a medical malpractice claim if I signed a consent form?
Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers and facilities are not permitted to commit medical negligence even if a patient has signed a consent form. The function of a consent form is merely to advise a patient of potential known risks and complications associated with a course of treatment or medical procedure. The bar for competence is not lowered for medical professionals through execution of a consent form.
What types of medical errors and omissions does your law firm handle?
Because we have litigated many medical malpractice claims, we have the expertise to handle the full range of claims based on a broad spectrum of medical mistakes.
Some of the types of medical malpractice claims that our attorneys handle include:
- Birth injuries
- Delayed diagnosis or substandard treatment of cancer
- Misreading MRIs, X-rays and ultrasounds
- Emergency room errors
- Intubation errors
- Failing to detect fetal abnormalities
- Obstetrical and gynecological malpractice
- Failure to identify the need for cesarean delivery in a timely manner
- Medication errors
- Surgical mistakes
- Errors by nurses in dispensing medications
- Anesthesia errors
- Foreign objects left in the body
- Failing to diagnose heart attack, stroke or heart abnormality
- Lack of appropriate response based on abnormal fetal monitor strips
These examples are just a few of the types of medical malpractice claims that our attorneys are qualified to pursue against negligent doctors, nurses, midwives, hospitals, outpatient clinics and other medical providers.
Will the doctor be automatically responsible if my medical procedure has a bad outcome?
Although medical malpractice will typically involve a "bad outcome," the existence of such an undesirable result does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. A patient or representative of a deceased patient must establish that the medical provider and/or facility engaged in negligence based on the appropriate standard of care for a doctor with similar training and experience in the medical community.
\Are there steps that need to be observed before my medical malpractice lawsuit is filed?
Under Florida law, strict pre-lawsuit requirements must be satisfied to avoid having the right to pursue a claim permanently barred.
A simplified overview of these pre-lawsuit requirements involves the following steps:
The plaintiff's attorney must engage in an investigation to confirm that a reasonable basis exists to believe a medical professional was negligent and that the negligence harmed the plaintiff.
The attorney must collect the patient's medical records and review the documents.
The records must be forwarded to a similar medical provider for analysis.
The expert who reviews the records must execute a "verified written medical expert opinion" that the claim has sufficient merit to proceed.
The attorney for the patient must file a "notice of intent to initiate litigation for medical negligence" attached to the expert's affidavit. The notice must be forwarded to all defendants, as well as certain state agencies depending on the circumstances.
During the 90-day period after notice has been served on all of the defendants, the parties engage in informal discovery procedures.
Based on this investigation, the defendants can elect to make a settlement offer, deny the claim, or offer to participate in arbitration based on admitted fault to determine the appropriate damage award.
Contact our Miami medical malpractice law firm for more information about a medical malpractice claim.