Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Published on:

A Jacksonville Beach woman was suffering from food poisoning when she called her doctor to see if there was anything the doctor could prescribe to help her nausea. The doctor wrote her a prescription for Phenergan, an anti-histamine commonly used to treat allergy symptoms as well as nausea. The woman’s husband dropped the prescription off at the Neptune Beach Walgreen’s pharmacy. Before her husband returned to pick up the prescription, her doctor realized that the prescription was written in error and called Walgreen’s pharmacy to cancel it. The doctor did not call the woman, however. Walgreen’s received the cancellation request, but had already filled the prescription and made it available for pick up.

The husband returned to pick up his wife’s prescription, unaware that it had been cancelled. For some reason, despite the fact that the doctor had called to cancel the prescription, it remained available for pick up at the Walgreen’s pharmacy. The husband brought the medicine back home to his wife, who took it as prescribed. She ended up in the hospital with severe damage to her central nervous system. She also experienced tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) as a symptom of the nerve damage. The dose of Phenergan prescribed by the doctor and filled by Walgreen’s was four times too strong.

The Consequences

Published on:

Shands hospitals in Jacksonville and Gainesville may be granted sovereign immunity protection from medical malpratice claims. Prior to the this bill, doctors working at Shands were protected while the hospitals were not in the event that hospital staff other than doctors made errors.

If the bill is signed by Governor Scott, damages will be limited to $100,000 per individual claimant and $200,000 if the claim involves wrongful death with multiple survivors. Opponents of the bill have expressed concern that hospital staff may not perform as carefully as they should if immunity is extended.

Victims of medical negligence at hospitals with sovereign immunity will have little or no recourse for covering their damages if the bill is signed. This is because medical negligence claims are extremely complex and expensive to litigate.

If a claimant must spend $50,000 on expert witnesses to bring the claim, by the time he or she has paid such expenses and lawyers, there is nothing left. As a result, there is no incentive for such victims to bring a claim. We know of no attorneys in Jacksonville who are currently willing to take cases against the doctors at Shands.
Continue reading

Published on:

President Obama mentioned tort reform aimed at reducing frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits in his State of the Union Address last week. Following suit, Democrats are considering various proposals; however, those proposals fall short of the Republicans’ goal of placing a $250,000.00 cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages are those designed to compensate for pain and suffering.

The general public seems to have bought into the idea that there is a plague of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. In Florida at least, nothing could be further from the truth. Medical cases are extremely expensive, very complicated and hard to win. The majority of personal injury attorneys in Jacksonville do not even accept medical malpractice cases.

Prior to even being allowed to file suit in Florida, an attorney representing a client in a medical malpractice case must get the case reviewed by a doctor who is actively practicing in the same field as the doctor involved in the suspected malpractice. This is an expensive process as the reviewing doctor will typically charge anywhere from $300.00 to $750.00 per hour. Often, many hours are involved if the records to be reviewed are voluminous.

If the reviewing doctor signs a sworn statement that malpractice occured, only then can the process be started. The plaintiff’s attorney must then issue the doctor a pre-suit notice of intent to sue. The doctor has at least 90 days to investigate the claim. During this 90 day period, both sides must respond to requests for information or requests for statements to be taken.

Only at the expiration of the 90 day period can suit be filed. Suit typically takes one to two years to get to trial. During this time, several expert witnesses are usually needed and the expense to the plaintiff’s attorney typically ranges from $30,000.00 to $80,000.00 to handle the case through trial.

Juries are notoriously kind to doctors. By far, doctors prevail in the majority of cases that get tried. Medical malpractice insurers know this and do not offer signficant settlements in all but the most egregious of cases. Of course, even if the plaintiff does prevail at trial Florida has already enacted caps limiting recovery for pain and suffering.

Why would any attorney want to take on a frivolous case? They don’t. In fact, medical malpractice cases with merit are turned down all the time by attorneys. this is because unless the alleged malpractice caused catastrophic injuries, the value of the case will be far surpassed by the expense in hiring expert witnesses.

Its easy to be in favor of making it even harder to bring medical malpractice cases until you are the victim of medical malpractice and you learn that attorneys are not willing or able to accept your case.
Continue reading

Published on:

A jury in Gainesville, Florida, determined that the University of Florida Shands Teaching Hospital committted medical malpractice causing a woman permanent brain injuries.

The woman went to Shands after suffering unexplained headaches. It was determined she had an anuerysm in her brain that had not ruptured.

An anuerysm is a swelling in an artery caused by weakening of the arterial walls. If an anuerysm is not repaired, it can rupture causing catostrophic bleeding.

Surgery was performed to insert coils into the woman’s aneurysm. Lawyers for the woman claimed that the surgeons accidentally perforated one of the arteries in her brain.

From there, her lawyers contended, the medical malpractice continued. She was kept on a blood thinner despite having symtoms consistent with a stroke. The blood thinner worsened the bleeding in her brain. As a result, the woman suffered permanent brain damage, partial paralysis, impaired vision and pain.
Continue reading

Published on:

A man settled his medical malpractice claim against the Jacksonville Naval Hospital after its employees failed to diagnose that he was suffering from viral encephalitis.

The man went to the Mayport clinic complaining of a severe headache and nausea. He was discharged without viral encephalitis being diagnosed. As a result, he had to have emergency surgery to remove part of his brain, leaving him with a brain injury. The medical negligence case settled for $950,000.00.
Continue reading

Published on:

Medical malpractice claims, unlike those arising from car collisions, have a two year statute of limitations. Most injury claims, like those arising from slip and falls or auto accidents, have a four year statute of limitations. It is important to be aware of this shortened time frame. Our Jacksonville personal injury lawyers are sometimes contacted by people who believe they may have suffered from medical malpractice that occurred three or more years prior.

Compounding this problem, is that, unlike other injury cases, medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a medical expert before suit can be filed. This process can take several months to complete.

The medical malpractice statute of limitations begins to run from the time a person knew or had reason to suspect medical malpractice may have occurred. This can create a dangerous “grey area” that is best avoided by ensuring that your claim is made early. Our advice: if you suspect that you may be the victim of medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Continue reading

Published on:

Chiropractors, podiatrists, and optometrists are just a few of the medical professionals required by Florida law to purchase medical malpractice insurance coverage. However, many people are suprised to learn that medical doctors are allowed to treat patients without any insurance coverage. As a result, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 8 doctors in Florida forgo malpractice coverage.

While the numbers are not as high in the Jacksonville and North Florida areas as in South Florida (where as many as 1 in 3 doctors may forgo such coverage), it is certainly a cause for concern. Absent this important liability coverage, patients who suffer catastrophic personal injuries may be unable to obtain the compensation permitted by law including medical bills, lost wages, loss of the ability to earn a living, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

Fortunately, if you are concerned about your physician’s coverage, you shouldn’t have to ask your doctor what may understandably be an uncomfortable question. Florida law requires doctors who go uninsured to post signs in their offices and promise to pay up to $250,000 per malpractice award, with a maximum of $750,000 per year. The penalty for not paying pursuant to statute is severe: revocation of their medical license.
Continue reading

Published on:

The family of a 58 year old Jacksonville, Florida, woman will receive $850,000.00 to settle a wrongful death claim alleging medical malpractice on the part of the Navy Hospital.

The woman went to the hospital because of a severe headache. She was diagnosed with a migraine headache and send home with pain medication. She died from a brain aneurysm days later.

666035_x-ray_head.jpg CT scans of her brain taken during that visit showed a major change compared to prior CT scans. The first of two doctors did not compare the CT scan to her prior CT scan, and, thus, did not notice the change. A second doctor did notice the change but did not act urgently to address the problem.
Continue reading

Published on:

A Jacksonville man died following plastic surgery and the surgeon has admitted liability for his death. Martin Gottlieb died of a heart attack after a liposuction procedure in 2004. Apparently, following the procedure, Mr. Gottlieb was supervised by an unlicensed surgical technician instead of a licensed nurse. Mr. Gottlieb began to have trouble breathing due to prescription drugs and fluid in his body. The delay in getting Mr. Gottlieb to the hospital caused his death, according to a reviewing anesthesiologist.274997_surgeon.jpg

Recently, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals denied the responsible physician’s request to have his body exhumed to determine if Mr. Gottlieb used recreational drugs. If so, the doctor’s attorneys would have argued the damages owed to Mr. Gottlieb’s estate should be reduced to reflect a shorter life expectancy due to drug use. The Appeals Court rejected this request as it appears that there was little, if any, support for the notion that Mr. Gottlieb used recreational drugs.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice does occur. Often the legal system provides the only way for families to recover the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that results. If you wish to speak with a Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyer, please contact our Jacksonville law firm for a free consultation.

Published on:

In Florida, the question of whether personal injury cases resulting from diseases contracted from blood transfusions are considered “medical malpractice” claims is being considered by Florida’s Supreme Court. Our Jacksonville injury law firm has investigated similar cases, includinig the transmission of hepatitis c from a blood transfusion.

The case before Florida’s Supreme Court involved a boy who contracted West Nile Virus and died as a result of a blood transfusion. After a jury trial, the parents of the boy received a large verdict. However, the appeals court reversed the verdict because the parents did not comply with the statutory presuit requirements for medical malpractice claims.

The attorneys for the parents argued that the boy did not receive any medical care from the blood bank that supplied the infected blood, and, thus, argued that the Florida statutes regarding medical malpractice claims did not apply. In contrast, the blood bank relied on the statute’s definition of medical provider which expressly includes blood banks. The plaintiff’s attorney responded by arguing that, while at times blood banks do provide medical care, in situations where they do not, they are not to be considered medical providers subject to the statutes.