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What Do Florida Residents Need to Prove in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Medical malpractice is a serious form of professional negligence that can encompass many actions. Any medical professional can commit an act of medical malpractice, including doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and more. Medical malpractice can include misdiagnosis, improper surgery, delayed treatment, and other medical practices that cause harm to a patient. To hold a medical professional accountable for an act of malpractice, an attorney must prove a set of specific factors in Florida civil court.
The Doctor Owed a Standard of Care
In a Florida medical malpractice suit, your attorney must prove that the doctor or other medical professional owed you a duty of care. The medical professional must have treated you directly, not provide advice on your case. You must have hired the doctor, and the doctor must have accepted your request for services.
In most medical malpractice cases, proving this element is not an issue. If you visited a hospital or a clinic and this medical professional treated you, you can establish a relationship. However, if your physician friend provided you with advice outside of a formal setting, you cannot file a claim against him or her, because you and your friend do not have a doctor/patient relationship.
The Doctor Caused Harm
Next, your attorney will need to prove your harm arose from the doctor or medical professional’s actions and not some other cause. You can claim multiple forms of medical negligence. While this harm can include improper actions and failure to act, dissatisfaction with your treatment alone is not grounds for negligence. Your doctor must have caused you to harm in a manner that another doctor would not have.
Forms of medical negligence can include:
- Missed or delayed diagnosis
- Injuries during childbirth
- Overmedication, wrong prescriptions, or improper dosage
- Failure to take notice of a harmful drug interaction
- Issues with anesthesia
- Errors during surgery
The Doctor’s Breach of Care Led to Injuries
Next, you need to prove that the breach in the duty of care led to injuries. These injuries can be physical or psychological in nature. However, you must directly tie them to the actions of the medical professional. Because medical malpractice claims involve a person who is already sick or injured, your attorney must prove that the harm led to further injury, illness, or worsening of the condition.
The Doctor Deviated from Professional Standards
When a person becomes a medical professional, he or she must follow certain standards generally accepted by medical professionals. These guidelines are known as the “standard of care” for health care providers. Your attorney must prove that your doctor caused you to harm and, in the course of doing so, violated the standard of care.
You can compare your doctor’s actions to how a similarly trained and educated doctor would have performed under the same circumstances. A medical malpractice attorney can connect you to medical experts who can testify as to your doctor’s behavior.
The Injuries Led to Damages
Finally, your attorney must prove that your doctor’s breach of care led to injuries that caused direct losses to you. You must be able to list the specific damages and argue that the courts can remedy your damages through financial compensation. You cannot claim damages for illnesses and injuries sustained prior to the negligent act.
In Florida medical malpractice cases, you can collect damages for economic and non-economic expenses.
- Medical expenses for additional costs related to the worsening condition and additional injuries
- Lost income due to an inability to work because of the injuries caused by the medical professional
- Permanent disability caused by the negligence
- Pain and suffering caused by the negligence
- Punitive damages to punish especially negligent or reckless forms of medical malpractice
Proving these elements can be difficult to accomplish alone. Hiring a Miami medical malpractice attorney can help you launch an investigation into your injuries, calculate appropriate damages, and consult with medical experts to determine if your doctor deviated from professional standards.