Medical malpractice is a big problem in Florida. It can occur at any stage of the health care process. Do you know how to protect yourself against medication errors, surgical errors, failure to diagnose, and other forms of medical malpractice? Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney Lisa Levine shares some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
In Florida, doctors, hospitals, nurses, and other healthcare providers are obligated to provide their patients with a certain standard of care. The standard of care is the care recognized and accepted by the medical profession as appropriate for a patient’s condition. When healthcare professionals are negligent in their duties and fail to deliver the accepted standard of care, the results can be catastrophic for their patients. Patients can become injured, disabled, have their conditions made worse, or even die due to a negligent act of medical malpractice.
Here are a few of the most common causes of medical malpractice in Florida:
- Delay in diagnosis
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to treat
- Failure to get informed consent
- Surgical errors
- Infections caused by unsterile tools or an unsterile environment
- Prescription and other medication errors
- Defective medical devices
- Anesthesia errors
- Prenatal and birth injuries
- Nursing home neglect/abuse
- Wrongful death
In a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiffs ask the at-fault parties to compensate them for the damages caused by their negligent actions. Damages in a medical malpractice claim can include medical expenses, loss of wages, pain, suffering, and mental anguish. If the patient dies as a result of the medical malpractice, their surviving relatives can file a wrongful death claim to help pay for funeral expenses, loss of income, and other damages.
Protect Yourself Against Medical Malpractice
Here are some steps to help ensure you don’t become a victim of medical malpractice.
Provide your doctors with an accurate and complete medical history
The more accurate and complete your medical history, the better level of care your doctor will be able to provide. It will make your doctor aware of all current or past medical issues, help assess the potential risks for hereditary diseases, enable them to keep track of your medications, and could be critical in an emergency medical situation. Include as much as possible in your medical history — details you may think unimportant could provide vital information to your doctor.
Don’t let your doctor ignore your symptoms
Do you have the feeling that you’re getting gaslighted by your physician? Don’t let your doctor ignore or dismiss your symptoms. When symptoms are ignored, serious issues can arise. One way to protect against medical malpractice is, if your doctor insists on ignoring your symptoms, consider looking for a new doctor.
Get a second opinion if necessary
If you aren’t comfortable with your doctor’s diagnosis, you are entitled to get another opinion. Getting a second opinion can often help you make a better healthcare decision when it comes to treatment.
Bring an advocate
Having an advocate, such as a family member or close friend, along with you at your appointments can be of great benefit to both the doctor and the patient to protect against medical malpractice. An advocate can help the doctor better understand a patient’s problems and symptoms. They can also ensure the patient understands the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Advocates are especially important in situations involving older patients or those who may not speak or understand English very well.
Make sure the medical staff has the correct file for you
To avoid medical errors, check to make sure the medical staff has the correct file. For instance, it’s very possible there could be another patient with the same name as you. You can verify they have the right person by asking simple questions, such as what is your birthdate, phone number, home address, etc.
Verify that the correct treatment is being performed
This is a big concern. You’ve probably heard the horror stories about patient misidentification, wrong-site surgery, and wrong-patient surgeries. There are many ways to ensure the correct treatment or procedure is being performed.
Make sure you have several identifiers besides just your name to avoid confusion in the event there’s another patient that shares the same name. You can use identification markers to avoid wrong-site surgery. If you’re awake, check with the doctor and his team before the procedure begins to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
If something seems wrong, speak up
Nobody knows your body and how you feel as well as you do. If something seems wrong, no matter how inconsequential, mention it to your doctor. This may provide them with the key to providing the correct and most effective treatment for your condition.
Always check your medication
Always check your medications to confirm that you’re getting the right medicine at the correct dosage. If you think the medication may be incorrect, follow up with your pharmacist and doctor immediately.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured by Medical Negligence
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages caused by a healthcare professional’s mistake. To obtain this compensation, you’ll have to file a medical malpractice claim.
Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be a challenge if you aren’t familiar with the law. In order to prevail, you’ll have to be able to prove that:
- A patient/doctor relationship existed.
- The doctor was negligent in the standard of care he provided.
- This negligence caused your injuries.
- You’ve suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
Most people hire a personal injury attorney with extensive experience in medical malpractice litigation to represent their case. This is a good idea for many reasons. A medical malpractice attorney can gather the evidence you’ll need to support your claim; help assign a dollar value to your damages, and negotiate your case with the healthcare provider’s insurance company.
Speak to a Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Medical malpractice cases are a highly specialized litigation area with a short 2 year statute of limitations. That means you only have 2 years from the date the malpractice occurred in which to file a claim. It’s important to have the legal assistance of an experienced trial lawyer who has an intricate understanding of the medical issues involved so that they can thoroughly depose the defendants or defendants and fight your case in court if needed.
Lisa Levine is a nationally recognized personal injury attorney and one of the leading medical malpractice lawyers in Fort Lauderdale. Her expertise, experience and dedication have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for her clients.
If your life or the life of a loved one has been changed for the worse due to the negligent acts of a doctor, nurse, technician, or other healthcare professional, contact the law offices of Lisa Levine without delay. You can reach us through our website or call us at (954) 256-1820 to schedule a free initial consultation.