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Medical Malpractice FAQ"s

What is Malpractice?

Malpractice, generally speaking, is a failure to use a reasonable level of skill and diligence in treating a patient. This standard of care is based on the prevailing level of skill and diligence of medical professionals in the same or similar fields.

Before a patient may sue a doctor, the patient must obtain a sworn affidavit from a medical professional which testifies that the accused doctor breached the standard of care. Without this document and without meeting other procedural requirements, there can be no medical malpractice law suit in Florida.

Does a bad surgical result mean malpractice occurred?

The lack of a successful result does not necessarily mean that malpractice occurred. Many times doctors exercise the highest possible level of care, using up to date knowledge and outstanding skill, but the optimal result does not occur. Under these circumstances, malpractice does not occur. On the other hand, if a treatment is not successful because a doctor provide care below prevailing standards in his field, there very well may be malpractice.

What is informed consent?

Before treating you, doctors must obtain consent to the treatment. The consent is valid only if the doctors have given you enough information to allow you to make a reasoned decision under all of the circumstances of your condition. This generally to requires a doctor to advise you of the risks of treatment, the potential complications of treatment, alternatives to the proposed treatment, etc.

What are some typical examples of malpractice?

While there are a multitude of ways a physician can commit malpractice, there are a number of typical types of malpractice. For instance, sometimes doctors will fail to diagnose a curable condition where they should have diagnosed it. This sometimes is seen in the context of cancer.  Also, sometimes doctors damage the body in surgery in ways that are preventable by exercising reasonable skill.  Additionally, sometimes doctors perform surgery on the wrong body part or fail to obtain proper consent for a given procedure.

These examples are illustrative but they do not represent every type of malpractice possible.

Statutes of Limitations

Under Florida law, there are time limits on when a person can file a malpractice lawsuit. Deadlines are imposed both by statutes and by case law interpreting statutes. Both a "statute of limitations" and a "statute of repose" may apply, in calculation of deadlines can be very complicated. If you believe that you have been a victim of malpractice you should consult a lawyer immediately so as to avoid having your claim barred by legal deadlines.

Vicarious Liability

A hospital may be responsible for physicians actions, depending on the relationship between the physician and the hospital. Generally speaking the hospital is responsible for its employees, whether they be physicians, nurses or other staff members. This liability may be extended to physicians practicing in the hospital not actually employed by the hospital.

Hospital liability for the actions of its employees or agents is called "vicarious liability." IF you believe a hospital may be vicariously liable for harming you, you should speak with a lawyer.

Robert E. Turffs - Attorney At Law

4837 Swift Road. #100-11
Sarasota, Florida 34231


Phone: (941) 953-9009 | Fax: (941) 953-5736


Note: The comments contained in this website are not to be considered legal advice nor should they be construed to apply in all claims. Your claim should be reviewed on an individual basis. For legal advice or opinion, please consult an attorney to determine if the information in this guide applies to your claim.

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