Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

The Florida Supreme Court came to a decision this week that overturned the state law limiting pain and suffering, and other non-economic, monetary awards in medical malpractice cases.

Previously, a person that suffered an injury due to medical malpractice could only be awarded $500,000 for pain and suffering by the court regardless of what a jury decided. If a person was catastrophically injured, the limit capped out at an even million. However, these limits do not include monetary damages for lost wages, medical care, or any other losses – they strictly cover pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.

The Supreme Court based its decision on a 2007 case where a woman was undergoing surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome. After the surgery, her throat was injured when removing a breathing tube, and this injury led to a six week coma and other serious injuries. When her case finally came to trial, a jury awarded her $4 million, however, the court reduced the award by half due to the state law limiting medical malpractice damages.

In 2014, the woman’s appeal verdict was found in her favor, striking down the cap. The court ruled that the limit violated the equal protection clause due to the arbitrary basis for reducing damages in the law. The court basically found that the law did not make sense, and now the Supreme Court has weighed in. They agreed with the appellate court and upheld the decision.

It is unclear if the caps on medical malpractice claims in other states will be challenged now. The Florida Supreme Court only impacts Florida law.

Medical malpractice is classified as any negligence of a health care provider that causes an injury. When a doctor, nurse or healthcare facility fails to provide a patient with quality medical care, they can be held liable for their carelessness.

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A federal court has agreed to hear an appeal on whether drivers in Palm Beach County and across Florida should be granted class-action status in their claim that HCA hospitals, including JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, are severely overcharging for services under the state’s car insurance system.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta agreed this week to consider an appeal of a lower-court decision in Florida that drivers could pursue lawsuits individually, but not as a group. The plaintiffs allege that the hospitals are draining Personal Injury Protection benefits by charging up to 65 times what Medicare pays.

4838079960_bea63b1287_zAn HCA statement issues said the case lacks merit and the company intends to defend it vigorously.

Recently, the Florida state legislature has taken steps to reduce the amount of fraud in the insurance system, reduce payment delays and limit use of the court system. The following changes were implemented:

  • In the past, injury victims had an unlimited time frame to make an injury claim, but now injury victims only have 14 days to seek medical treatment that may be covered by PIP.
  • Under the new law, people with minor injuries might be limited on the amount of financial recovery that they will receive from PIP coverage.
  • PIP compensation is limited to 80 percent of your medical costs.

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A medical malpractice case filed by the parents of a 17-year-old high school junior who passed away two days after being deprived of oxygen during a routine wisdom teeth surgery in Baltimore has been settled out of court.

The teen suffered severe brain injury during her surgery March 28, 2011. Shortly after she went into a coma and died 10 days later. According to an autopsy report, she died because of a lack of oxygen to her brain during the surgery.

Her parents filed a civil suit against the anesthesiologist, surgeon and medical practices involved in their daughter’s procedure. The suit alleged that they had shown negligence by failing to revive her after her heart rate slowed to a seriously dangerous level, limiting the flow of oxygen to her brain.

Both sides reached a settlement on March 28. The conditions and value of the settlement are not public. However, the suit included five counts claiming negligence and other medical failures, with more than $30,000 was in dispute for each count.

751830_dental_office.jpgIn order to prove medical malpractice in a wrongful death case, the victim’s family must demonstrate that the surgeon, doctor, other medical staff or the hospital was negligent in some way. When it comes to a surgery, this can include any careless or reckless act such as prescribing the wrong drug to a patient, failing to properly monitor a patient or not checking for any and all allergies a patient may have.

When a court must determine if a medical provider was negligent, they factor in generally accepted standards of care in that particular medical field. For this case, experts would likely be called on to testify about the various procedures oral surgeons undergo when removing wisdom teeth and if the surgeon in question actually met those standards of care. While the surgery to remove wisdom teeth is quite common and usually thought to be low-risk, there are always hazards anytime a surgery is performed. In certain situations, medical malpractice may not be to blame, and the cause could just be a freak accident.

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776917_guantes_gloves_.jpgA jury recently awarded a surviving husband $4 million in a wrongful death suit as a result of a nurse’s error that eventually claimed the life of his 29-year-old wife.

The man’s wife went in for a hysterectomy, but medical professionals failed to recognize the woman had a latex allergy. After surgery, the woman expressed that she was itchy, felt nauseous and had blisters on her lips. She was provided Benadryl for the itchiness and the nausea was attributed to the anesthesia.

A day later, the woman was placed on a ventilator and moved to the intensive care unit. She died just four days after surgery.

The hospital’s allergy policy requires that every patient’s allergies be documented prior to admission. Listed allergies are supposed to be recorded in case they can be linked to any unknown allergies that could result in complications. The woman noted that she had an allergy to chestnuts, which can be a sign of sensitivity to latex. According to the hospital’s policies, this information should have been recorded on her chart and been displayed in her hospital room.

However, the nurse that evaluated the woman was unaware of the hospital’s procedures. Her death was found to be caused by the use of latex in her surgical procedure and subsequent treatments eventually leading to anaphylactic shock.

While the jury did not find the surgeon negligent, they did hold the hospital accountable for the nurse’s negligence.

The jury awarded $516,000 to the wrongful death beneficiaries and $4,175,000 to the woman’s estate.

When it comes to medical malpractice, people generally think of mistakes made by doctors. However, nurses also play a serious part in the treatment of patients. A nurse’s error or wrongdoing can be just as harmful as a mistake made by a doctor or surgeon.

A nurse can be found negligent for a variety of reasons, including:

 Documentation errors
 Failing to monitor a patient properly
 Medication overdose or error
 Failing to call or notify a doctor of a patient’s condition in a timely fashion
 Not properly recording a change in a patient’s condition
 Incorrect use of a medical device
 Failing to attain informed consent

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