Medical Malpractice? What Next?
An incidence of medical malpractice can be a difficult matter to prove. Recent statistics indicate that almost two-thirds of all cases result in victory for the defendant. The attorney is required to prove both negligence on the part of the caregiver, and damage or loss as a result of this negligence. Despite the difficulty this often presents, the prevalence of large malpractice insurance policies demonstrates that doctors and large healthcare providers are not too eager to take any risks.
The most common situation that could result in a medical malpractice case is that of risky procedures or treatments given to a patient during a hospital stay. Hospitals are generally liable for any actions undertaken by any of its employees, obviously including any negligence on the part of a doctor or care provider.
The risks of incurring a malpractice case become even greater when one considers that malpractice is not always based on what a doctor might have done, but also what he or she did not do. For example, take the Polk County Florida case in which the family of a thirty-one year old wife and mother was awarded $1.75 million due to an undiagnosed, and subsequently fatal heart disease. In this case, the court did not find a direct cause-and-effect relationship in which the doctor in question misdiagnosed, made an error in surgery or otherwise injured the patient. He or she simply failed to make the diagnosis of a heart condition that would result in the woman’s death. After it was determined that that doctor displayed negligence in omitting this diagnosis, that a reasonable person could assume that the proper diagnosis both should have been made, and that this would have avoided the patient’s death, the case was ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
Despite the above example –and the many like it that occur each year in hospitals in Florida and across the country – courts usually find medical malpractice cases in favor of the defendant (the doctor or hospital, etc.). Nevertheless, with damages often reaching into the millions with each finding of medical malpractice, doctors and healthcare providers approach medical malpractice cases with the utmost concern – and a hefty insurance policy.