Understanding Florida Medical Malpractice Laws
Florida has many laws that deal with medical malpractice claims. There are statutes, cases written by judges, and regulations from both the federal and state governments. One of the most important parts of Florida medical malpractice laws is found in Florida Statutes section 766.102-103. In this post we will discuss several important parts of this section in order to help Miami residents better understand what a medical malpractice claim is in Florida.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Simply put, medical malpractice happens when a doctor or other healthcare professional fails to provide adequate care to a patient and the patient suffers as a result. Every state has its own standard of what adequate care means, and Florida’s is a fairly standard one. In Florida, adequate care means that a doctor or other healthcare professional provides:
- The same level of care;
- With the same skill;
- As a reasonably prudent and similar health care provider;
- Under the same or similar circumstances.
This means that if a healthcare provider does something during treatment that falls below this standard, and the patient is hurt as a result, that is considered medical malpractice. Malpractice can happen at all stages of care, from when a patient checks into the hospital and has his or her vital signs checked, to when the patient is discharged.
Understanding the standard for medical malpractice is one thing; proving it is another. One of the primary ways to prove that malpractice has occurred is by having fellow doctors testify in court. As expert witnesses, doctors can explain to a jury or judge what the standard of care should have been. Of course as expert witnesses these doctors are paid, but their pay cannot be based on a contingency of the case. And no person is qualified to give expert testimony unless that person has a valid and current license to practice and they have conducted a full review of all the medical information in the case.
Expert witnesses are particularly important to the plaintiff in the case (the one hurt) because the plaintiff has the the burden of proof. The burden of proof in any medical malpractice case is the greater weight of the evidence.
When is Medical Malpractice Presumed?
In some cases expert witnesses are not as necessary because malpractice is presumed. While it may seem counter intuitive, malpractice is not presumed just because a patient is injured while under the care of a healthcare provider. But, under Florida law, malpractice is presumed when during a surgery something is left behind in the patient. Some of the things that will be left inside a patient during and after a surgery include sponges, clamps, forceps, needles, and other items used during a surgery. As you can imagine, leaving something behind inside a patient after a surgery can be devastating to the health of a patient.
This was meant to act as an overview to help Miami residents better understand medical malpractice in Florida. The truth is that medical malpractice claims are much more complicated than what has been explained here. The attorneys at Alan Goldfarb P.A. are prepared to handle even the most complex of medical malpractice cases. Reach out to the office today.