What is Medical Malpractice?

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This post was written in collaboration with Personal Injury Attorney and Firm Partner Scott E. Gwartney

Exploring the Area of Medical Malpractice

We hear stories about the tragedies that occur due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, but what does it truly mean when a doctor is negligent? Is a healthcare provider’s negligence different from medical malpractice? What should you do if you believe you are a victim? These are some of the common questions that we hear and hope to answer as we delve into the area of practice that is Medical Malpractice law.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice is essentially negligence by a healthcare provider while acting in the scope of providing health care. To be sure, there are many nuances under applicable state law, but when a healthcare provider is negligent, they have deviated from the “prevailing professional standard of care.”  The “prevailing professional standard of care” is defined in Florida as “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar healthcare providers.”  Put another way, the healthcare practitioner has done something that no other reasonable healthcare practitioner would have done under the same circumstances.

Important Aspects of Medical Malpractice Claims

If you believe that you are a potential victim of Medical Malpractice, there are a couple of key aspects to consider as you move forward with your potential case.

  • When a healthcare provider is confronted with a Medical Malpractice claim from one of their patients, the first line of defense is to assert that they were acting within the prevailing professional standard of care. In other words, they claim that other reasonable healthcare providers would have undertaken the same course of treatment under the circumstances; what they did or didn’t do was reasonable. Healthcare is an art, as well as a science; there is more than one way to approach most medical issues. While we as Medical Malpractice lawyers representing injured patients recognize that different approaches to healthcare may be equally acceptable, we must be able to point out what is never acceptable, and thus outside the prevailing professional standards of care required. These are complicated legal and medical issues and thus, a potential Plaintiff will need to work with an experienced attorney and medical experts to understand what is and is not acceptable under the prevailing professional standards of care. The proof required to rebut this defense must be provided through expert medical testimony.
  • The bigger question when it comes to proving a Medical Malpractice claim is the question of causation. Did the healthcare provider’s negligence cause the injury complained of? Consider the following example that illustrates the causation defense: A driver can be negligent by running their car through a red light, but if them running the red light does not cause injury or harm to someone else in the intersection, then there is no civil claim for their negligent behavior.  Just like the negligent driver can claim that even if they were negligent, their negligence did not cause anyone to get hurt, the negligent healthcare provider can defend claims by asserting that their conduct did not cause any additional harm to the Plaintiff. The nature of medical negligence claims is such that most malpractice claimants are already suffering from some medical malady, otherwise they would not be seeking medical care. This creates a built-in defense for most Medical Malpractice claims. The proof required to rebut a causation defense is also provided through expert medical testimony.

What to do if you believe you are a victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe you have been the victim of Medical Negligence/Malpractice, take careful notes for your attorney on the circumstances, and contact an experienced Medical Malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Medical Malpractice claims are often subject to shorter statutes of limitations than other claims (in Florida and Georgia, generally only 2 years… but there are exceptions), therefore, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Medical Malpractice attorney who has the resources to find the best medical experts for your case as soon as possible.

Those who are injured or harmed due to the negligence of a healthcare provider deserve the opportunity to seek accountability and just compensation for the consequences of Medical Malpractice. If you believe that you are a victim of Medical Malpractice, our Tallahassee attorneys are well experienced to handle claims throughout Florida and Georgia and are here to serve you when there is Too Much At Stake. Learn More about Brooks, LeBoeuf, Foster & Gwartney today! To explore more of our blog posts Click Here.