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Medical Malpractice Attorney in Pinellas County

Medical Malpractice in Pinellas County

A recent Harvard University study found that most victims of medical malpractice never make a claim. Many patients are never even aware that a doctor or hospital’s mistake caused their injury or the death of their loved one.

Medical malpractice claims are usually the only way that a patient can find out if a medical error was made in their case. Most states have enacted laws that keep all hospital investigations secret, and the patient is not even told if the hospital’s internal peer review investigation finds that a doctor was negligent or incompetent.

The insurance industry and the medical community have been restricting patients’ rights to know about medical negligence and limiting patients’ rights to compensation under the false pretense of “tort reform.” They claim that high medical malpractice insurance rates are caused by frivolous malpractice lawsuits. This is false.

Malpractice suits are unlike most personal injury cases. There are very few frivolous malpractice lawsuits because they are very expensive to bring, and judges and juries are very careful to screen out and dismiss cases against doctors where there is no clear negligence.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

A medical negligence case has two basic legal requirements. First, malpractice lawyers must show that the medical provider gave medical care that was below the reasonable standard of care for a medical professional in that field. Second, we have to show that the medical provider’s failure to meet the reasonable standard of care caused the injury of death to the patient.

We prove these two elements through the testimony of another doctor in the same field of medicine. There are many doctors who care deeply about keeping up standards in their profession, and some of these doctors are willing to testify for injured patients against other doctors. If there is a clear case of malpractice, we can almost always find a doctor who will help us and testify for the malpractice victim against another doctor.

A surgery or other medical treatment that results in a bad outcome with unexpected serious injury or death to the patient is not always a malpractice case. Sometimes, even if the medical providers meet all the reasonable standards of care, a patient can suffer serious or fatal side effects of the medical procedure. The medical providers are not liable to pay damages for a bad outcome unless they committed negligent acts that caused or contributed to the bad outcome.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice

Sometimes the negligent conduct is failing to advise the patient of the possibility of one of these bad outcomes. This is called failing to obtain “informed consent” of the patient to undergo the procedure and accept the risks of one of these bad outcomes.

Almost all medical procedures or treatments have at least some risk of a bad outcome. Therefore, it is important to speak with a law firm experienced in these cases to evaluate such factors. Our firm has been handling these cases for many years and we have full-time medical personnel in our office so that we can fully and properly investigate your case.

Insurance companies and medical providers rarely settle even very good cases without the filing of a lawsuit and aggressive litigation. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced trial lawyer to represent you in your claim. Our firm has years of experience handling medical negligence litigation.

Our malpractice lawyers in Pinellas County would be happy to give you a free opinion concerning your claim and to represent you for a reasonable percentage of the recovery if we agree to represent you.

Please call the Pinellas County office at 800-748-7115 or email me so that we may evaluate your medical malpractice case today.

Filing a Malpractice Lawsuit in Florida

Malpractice law varies by state. Each has its own statute of limitations. Some place limits on award amounts. Since different states have different requirements for filing a claim,  injured people sometimes get confused by the hurdles they have to overcome before initiating a lawsuit. It’s important to understand the specific statewide statutes governing the area of medical malpractice in Florida.

Filing a Malpractice Lawsuit in FloridaStatute of Limitations – The first thing to consider is the statute of limitations. When it comes to medical malpractice, Florida law demands that plaintiffs start the legal process no more than two years after they first discover the injury. To make matters more complicated, the court may start the clock from the moment they deem that you should have known about the injury.

Pre-Suit Requirements – The second area of concern involves pre-suit requirements. Florida malpractice law says the plaintiffs must serve defendants with a notice of intent to sue. The notice must include an affidavit from a qualified healthcare provider attesting to the validity of the claim. This means that a medical malpractice attorney must hire a medical expert witness to review the case before a lawsuit can be filed.

Recovery Limits – Florida used to have caps on damages set by the Florida Legislature for a number of years. The Florida Supreme Court recently eliminated those caps on damages finding that they violated peoples’ right to jury trial that is in the Florida State Constitution.

At the end of the day, the most important step a plaintiff can take is to immediately find a medical malpractice lawyer who knows the state’s malpractice law. Only experienced malpractice lawyers in Florida have the knowledge to guide you through the state’s complex legal web. Prompt legal advice from a medical malpractice attorney is critical to preserving legal rights to bring a claim.  Saunders & Walker P.A. in Pinellas Park, FL can help advise you on the process of filing a lawsuit.

Feel free to call my Pinellas Park, FL office at 800-748-7115 to receive a free case evaluation.

Case Study: Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

A 21-year-old woman developed severe persistent nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy. In approximately 2 ½ months she lost over 17 kg. A previous pregnancy was complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum—severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy—and the patient ultimately delivered an 8-pound, 4-ounce male without difficulty. Hyperemesis gravidarum is uncommon, and many cases respond to anti-vomiting treatment and intravenous fluid replacement. Neurological complications are even more rare.

At her first prenatal visit for the second pregnancy, at 8 weeks’ gestation, the patient weighed 198 lbs. and reported a headache, nausea, and vomiting. Subsequently, the patient was admitted to the hospital at 12 weeks, 15 weeks, 17 weeks, and 19 weeks for hyperemesis gravidarum and dehydration.

At each admission, her level of ketones—which are present in the urine when the body is starving—were excessive. Liver enzyme studies indicated biochemical features of mild liver failure. The patient was treated with intravenous fluids for hydration and, variously, metoclopramide, ondansetron, and promethazine for nausea and vomiting. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist concurred with the need for anti-vomiting medication and added the need to monitor her electrolyte status.

When the patient was admitted at 19 weeks’ gestation, she weighed 160 lbs. and electrolyte studies showed a potassium deficit for which supplementation was administered. On the third day of her admission, the patient awakened confused and amnesic. She did not know the date or the reason for her hospital admission, and she could not recall her son’s name. The patient exhibited rapid, involuntary movement of her eyes, a condition called nystagmus which reflects a neurological disorder. The patient’s mother reported that her daughter was having difficulty walking.

Her physicians considered surgery for possible gall bladder disease and prescribed antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. A CT scan was ordered to rule out a stroke, and an EEG was performed to evaluate the possibility of a seizure disorder. Though the patient had not exhibited psychological problems in the past, a psychiatrist consultant evaluated the patient for anxiety and amnesia and ordered Ativan.

Physicians believed the patient’s encephalopathy was related to her urinary tract infection and ordered a lumbar puncture to determine whether the infection had spread to her cerebrospinal fluid. On the sixth day of hospitalization, the patient’s mother reported that her daughter was worse. She was disoriented and rocking and crying in bed.

An MRI of the brain was ordered and showed rounded, virtually spherical, patches of T2 hyper-intensity in the posteromedial thalami, consistent with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. By the time intravenous vitamin supplementation, including thiamine, was administered that afternoon, the patient was non-verbal and did not recognize her name.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential in Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, which is a potentially fatal medical emergency due to thiamine deficiency. The diagnosis of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy should be suspected once any one of the neurological triad—confusion, nystagmus, and lack of gait coordination—presents in a patient with hyperemesis gravidarum.

Because pregnant women who have vomited for more than a few weeks develop subacute thiamine deprivation, specialists recommend that women with hyperemesis gravidarum of greater than two weeks’ duration should be administered preventative intravenous thiamine. A review of the literature suggests that maternal death or permanent neurologic abnormality occurs in more than 80% of cases of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy.

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Saunders & Walker
3491 Gandy Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
Phone: (727) 579-4500
Phone: 1-800-748-7115

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