What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Florida?



Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or facility breaches their duty of care to a patient. This breach of duty results in injury or harm to the patient. 

Medical Malpractice Stats

99% of physicians face some kind of lawsuit by age 65, so medical malpractice is relatively common. While heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, killing 695k people annually, medical malpractice comes in at #3, with 250k preventable deaths each year

New York had the highest number of medical malpractice claims, with 16,688 recorded between 2009 and 2018, but Florida was in third place, with 10,788 claims. Florida patients who have suffered due to medical malpractice can pursue legal action and compensation, as per Florida medical malpractice laws, with an average payout of $314,687 as of 2022. 

Here is an overview of what generally qualifies as medical malpractice in the state.

Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnoses account for 32% of all medical malpractice claims and one of the most common medical malpractice claims in Florida involves a doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient correctly. This could involve failing to recognize symptoms of a serious illness or injury. It also includes misdiagnosing by incorrectly interpreting tests, scans, or evaluations. Both failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis can rob patients of timely, appropriate treatments. As a result, patients may suffer increased harm. If evidence shows reasonable diagnosis efforts could have caught a patient’s actual condition, the patients have grounds to prove negligence.

Medication & Prescription Errors

Mistakes with medications and incorrect prescriptions affect 1.5 million people every year and can also lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. If a pharmacist miss-fills a prescription or a nurse administers the wrong dose, patients can end up harmed. Hospitals with poor prescription handling protocols may also show systemic negligence. Even minor medication errors can accumulate to cause patient harm over time. Clear evidence linking medication mistakes to patient injury makes these cases actionable.

Surgical Errors and Complications

Botched surgeries are another source of Florida malpractice claims, accounting for 25% of all claims. For example, surgeons sometimes make mistakes like operating on the incorrect body part or failing to remove surgical tools from the patient prior to finishing the procedure. Even surgeries that went well can still result in malpractice if the patient suffers an avoidable post-surgical infection. Hospitals are generally liable for negligence during surgeries and responsible for preventing infections. Patients can pursue compensation if they suffer extended hospitalization, lasting disability, or impaired quality of life.

Birth-Related Malpractice

Mistakes during labor, delivery, and prenatal care can profoundly impact babies. Birth-related medical malpractice examples include failure to detect fetal distress and preventable birth injuries. These could involve cerebral palsy, broken bones, or brachial plexus injuries during delivery. Babies who develop permanent disabilities due to poor medical decisions generally have strong grounds to claim malpractice later on. Their families can also claim compensation for the baby’s future care costs.

Inadequate Documentation

Doctors, nurses, and clinics must adequately document all patient encounters, orders, test results, and treatments. Sloppy, ambiguous, or missing documentation makes it harder to assess the standard of care. This alone does not qualify as malpractice. However, plaintiffs can use poorly documented patient histories to help establish a broader pattern of negligence. Thorough documentation protects hospitals while missing patient records help substantiate claims.

By understanding common medical malpractice scenarios in Florida, patients can better advocate for their care. Suspicious oversights, mistakes, or injuries should be addressed early. Speaking to a malpractice attorney can also help patients obtain accountability and compensation. With sound legal advice, standing up against negligence can prevent others from being similarly harmed.

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