Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence are the same thing. It means that a healthcare provider carelessly, negligently caused harm and injury to a patient in the course of the treatment of the patient. This includes doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists among others.
As a Personal Injury Attorney, I have handled many medical malpractice cases. When investigating a medmal claim, the first thing that needs to be done is to secure all of the medical records that have information concerning the claim. Medical authorization from the patient will allow the attorney to examine all of the records to determine if the client was harmed by treatment that was below the appropriate standard of care.
The standard of care is a national standard and applies anywhere in the country. The standard is the minimal amount of care that is considered to be satisfactory care and is not negligent or malpractice. If the care is below the standard, then it is deemed to be medical malpractice. It is like drawing a line and any care above the line is acceptable but care below the line is not and would validate a medmal claim.
If the attorney feels that the client’s claim may have merit, then the records and any other medical information is submitted to an expert for review. The review must be by a similar healthcare professional as the client’s healthcare professional who he is making a claim against. In other words, if the claim is against a nurse, then the reviewer must be a nurse of similar training and expertise. If the claim is against a doctor then the reviewer must be a doctor of the same specialty and training as the one against whom a claim is to be made. For example, a claim against a surgeon must be reviewed by a surgeon. A claim against a primary care doctor must be reviewed by a primary care doctor.
If the review determines that the care rendered was below the applicable standard of care, then the next thing to determine is whether or not the client has been substantially harmed or injured by the substandard care. If the injury is minimal and no permanent damage is the result, then the attorney will probably not proceed forward with the claim because it would not be economically feasible. This means if the attorney feels that the value of the claim is less than the time, effort and money to litigate the claim, he will go no further. Keep in mind that medmal cases, like other negligence case i.e. auto, slip and fall etc., are handled on a contingence fee basis. No fee or costs are owed the attorney unless he recovers compensation for the client. It is the lawyer’s money that finances the case and if he feels that the chances of recovery are small, then he will not finance the case.
If the claim appears to be viable, meaning the healthcare provider’s care was below the standard of care and the client’s injuries are substantial, then the attorney will proceed to make a legal claim for the client following the multiple legal requirements to do so in Florida.
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