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What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Florida?

February 1, 2024 Legal Team
stethoscope on table with the caption: "Do you have a medical malpractice case?"

Not every medical treatment ends with a happily-ever-after, but that doesn’t mean a case is necessarily malpractice just because the patient isn’t happy with the results of their treatment or it didn’t end in the desired outcome. Doctors and medical providers are not magicians or miracle workers, but they are expected to uphold the standard of care accepted by the medical community. In other words, a patient cannot always count on a perfect medical outcome but they do have a right to expect a doctor or other provider to treat their condition the way another, reasonable provider would under the same circumstances.

If you think you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice in Florida, an experienced malpractice attorney in Sarasota and Bradenton can provide legal counsel and representation. But first, it helps to know what constitutes medical malpractice in Florida.

Understanding a Doctor’s Duty of Care

Most personal injury claims are based on the premise that all people have a “general duty of care” to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injuries to others. However, we hold certain professionals, like doctors and teachers, to higher standards. Doctors owe their patients a duty to treat them at the standard of care accepted by the medical community, or to treat a patient the way a reasonable medical professional would under the same circumstances. When a doctor/patient relationship has been established, and a doctor or other medical provider breaches their duty of care to a patient, it’s negligence. When the negligence causes an injury with serious economic and non-economic damages, the negligent provider is liable for those consequences to the victim.

A successful claim for damages in a medical malpractice case in Florida requires proving the following:

  • A formal doctor/patient relationship existed at the time of the injury
  • There was a breach of duty of care
  • Causation—that the breach caused the injury, and
  • Damages occurred due to the injury.

Common Compensation for Damages in Florida Medical Malpractice Claims

Most successful medical malpractice claims recover both economic and non-economic damages including the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Reimbursement for lost income
  • Future income loss
  • Disability compensation
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death compensation

Types of Medical Malpractice in Florida

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals provide a wide range of healthcare services. This results in an equally wide range of malpractice types. Common types of malpractice claims in Florida include the following:

  • Missed diagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Improper reading of lab notes or pathology reports
  • Surgical errors including wrong site, wrong side, and wrong patient surgeries
  • Medication mistakes
  • Insufficient aftercare or aftercare instructions
  • Failure to gain informed consent

Proving a medical malpractice case in Florida requires an investigation to determine whether the doctor, the laboratory, or the healthcare facility bears liability for the malpractice. Then the injury victim must document evidence to present in a compelling demand package to the malpractice insurer of the at-fault party. Most medical malpractice claims end with a settlement, but some go on to a lawsuit in court. Although court cases take longer to litigate, jury awards for medical malpractice damages are often larger than the victim would recover in a settlement.