Medical malpractice or medical negligence is defined as a breach of the “standard of care” on the part of a healthcare professional which subsequently results in injury. Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act defines the “standard of care” as a level of care and treatment which is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent healthcare providers under similar circumstances.
For example, if you are injured by a neurologist, the judge will instruct the jury to determine whether your neurologist did something that a reasonably prudent neurologist would not have done, or whether he failed to do something that a reasonably prudent neurologist would have done.
If you are injured in an emergency room, a different standard of care may apply. Under the Florida Good Samaritan Statute, doctors providing emergency services cannot be held liable for damages as a result of such medical care unless damages result from providing, or failing to provide, medical treatment under circumstances demonstrating a “reckless disregard” for the consequences.
The “reckless disregard” standard of care is much more difficult to prove than the negligence standard of care that applies to medical professionals rendering non-emergency care.
In order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, you need to have three things; the first is a breach of the standard of care. What that means is that a doctor, hospital, or healthcare professional has failed to do something, or did something that they shouldn’t have. The second requirement is causation, which means that the breach resulted in serious injury or death. The third element of the claim is damages. The damages – injury or death – must be of sufficient severity to justify the high cost of medical malpractice litigation.
It is important to understand that experiencing a bad outcome does not necessarily mean that you have a medical malpractice claim. Bad things happen to good people all the time and practice of medicine offers no guarantee. However, if you or someone you love has been seriously injured from a medical procedure, you have too much at stake not to investigate and protect your legal rights.