How Long Do You Have to Sue a Doctor After Surgery?
The aftermath of surgery can be overwhelming, even when everything goes well and your outcome is promising. But what if you suspect surgical error or medical malpractice that affects your health? The law provides legal remedies if you are a victim of surgical or other medical malpractice in Florida. You have up to four years after a surgery to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, depending on the circumstances.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Even the most careful doctors can make a mistake. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor’s treatment differs from that a similarly trained practitioner would have given under identical circumstances.
Common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Lack of Informed Consent – Doctors must get informed consent from their patients before administering a care plan. Your provider is obligated to fully inform you of all available treatment options and outcomes before you make your treatment decision.
- Misdiagnosis – Providers can misdiagnose patients for various reasons, but when they miss a diagnosis, it can have potentially deadly impacts.
- Failure to Diagnose – Medical professionals can fail to diagnose a patient, which can lead to delayed care, an incorrect treatment plan, or, in the worst cases, death.
- Surgical Errors – Surgeons are responsible for reducing potential risks and avoiding medical errors when performing surgery on patients. Surgical errors can have catastrophic consequences.
What Counts as a Surgical Error?
Surgical errors are mistakes that deviate from the accepted standard of care. These can include:
- Performing a different procedure than ordered initially
- Operating on the wrong body part or side
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Using the wrong surgical tool or device, such as dissolving sutures instead of permanent ones
- Leaving a surgical tool or device inside the patient
- Failing to monitor patients post-procedure
In addition, surgical errors can financially burden patients, causing even more harm.
How Common Is Surgical Malpractice?
Any surgical procedure has inherent risks, but when surgeons fail to uphold the accepted standard of care, patients suffer needless harm or even pass away. According to a recent study:
- There are at least 4,000 reported surgical errors in the United States each year.
- The most common error is operating on the wrong body part.
- The use of robotic surgical technology increases the risk of bleeding caused by injury to nearby tissues.
How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice?
Florida statutes require patients who want to file a medical malpractice claim to prove that their doctor didn’t follow the typical standard of care other medical professionals with similar training and experience would.
Simply put, suffering an injury after receiving medical care or having a poor result from an appropriate treatment isn’t enough for a medical malpractice claim. You must prove that your doctor had a duty of care to you, breached that duty, and deviated from the applicable standard of care. Proving medical malpractice is a complex process that requires tremendous legal and medical knowledge.
What Do I Do If I Suspect Medical Malpractice?
If you think you’re the victim of medical malpractice, you should:
- Consider the Circumstances – Proving malpractice is more complicated than not receiving an expected or desired outcome, and there are risks with any medical procedure. You must prove that your doctor deviated from the standard of care.
- Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer – Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to pursue your claim. Their knowledge and resources are indispensable for filing a lawsuit to seek compensation.
- Get a Second Opinion – Your attorney can obtain a second opinion from another medical professional in the field. Their report can provide valuable insight. They can independently assess your treatment and circumstances to help determine if malpractice occurred.
- File a Complaint – Contacting the Florida Department of Health to file a complaint creates a record. Filing a complaint alerts the agency to help prevent future medical malpractice incidents.
- Collect Your Records – Gathering your medical history, including test results, surgeries, and outpatient facility stays, can provide another provider and your attorney with the complete picture to inform their decision.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Attorney Help Me?
A skilled attorney can work to prove medical negligence occurred. They can:
- Request medical records, test results, lab results, surgical notes, and other documentation related to your surgery and care
- Interview witnesses, such as nurses, technicians, and other medical professionals who were present for the surgery
- Obtain records of any past complaints or violations
- Create a timeline of events that indicates negligence
- Assess your damages and assign fair value
- File a claim against the surgeon’s medical malpractice insurance and, if necessary, sue for medical costs and other expenses
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?
The statute of limitations in Florida allows a person to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years from the date when an individual discovers or should have discovered the malpractice through reasonable diligence. However, a suit cannot be filed more than four years after the actual malpractice occurred.
If medical malpractice claims aren’t filed before the statute of limitations expires, you could lose your right to seek compensation for medical treatment and other losses.
Can I Pursue Compensation for Medical Malpractice?
The cost of a surgical error, medication issues, or long-term care is expensive, leaving you to deal with skyrocketing medical bills, pain, and other losses, potentially including lost wages or the costs of making your home accessible. Through a medical malpractice claim, you can pursue compensation for:
- Corrective medical care costs
- Rehabilitative or skilled nursing expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
Additionally, you could pursue compensation for these intangible losses:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Diminished enjoyment and quality of life
- Loss of companionship
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you suspect you are the victim of medical malpractice, you need a skilled attorney to guide you through the process of pursuing the compensation you’re entitled to.
At Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A., we help medical malpractice patients regain their lives and take pride in supporting our clients through their post-injury journey. Our firm has spent years dealing with medical malpractice cases and tirelessly fighting for Floridians. With decades of experience, we’ll fiercely pursue the compensation you need and deserve to move forward.
Call us at 561.689.8180 today for your free case consultation to learn how we can help you.