What Is The Standard Of Care In Florida Medical Malpractice Cases?
Medical malpractice is arguably one of the most complex causes of action one can bring in court. This goes extra in Florida, given its numerous pre-suit requirements that plaintiffs must meet before bringing their claim. However, at the heart of every claim brought to court is the issue of how much care is owed to a patient by their doctor. There is no one prevailing ‘appropriate standard of care’ across the board, but the standard of care must be ascertained in every individual medical malpractice claim, or the injured plaintiff has no likelihood of recovering their damages.
A Provider-Patient Relationship Must Exist
In order to prevail in a medical malpractice case in Florida, an injured plaintiff must be able to show four main points to a judge or jury: (1) the allegedly negligent physician owed the patient a duty of care; (2) the physician breached that duty, failing to act in accordance with the prevailing standard of care; (3) you sustained injuries; and (4) the physician’s breach of duty caused your injuries. Each step has to be established via a preponderance of the evidence – in other words, you must show that it is more likely than not that each point is true.
In general, if a provider-patient relationship exists, the medical professional will owe a duty of care to the patient. The American Medical Association (AMA) holds that a provider-patient relationship exists when a medical provider affirmatively acts in a patient’s interests – diagnosing, examining, affirmatively treating, or agreeing to do any of those things. If your doctor did any of these things, it is generally safe to assume that a provider-patient relationship exists, and its alleged breach can form the basis for a malpractice case.
The Standard Is Subjective
Once you have established that a provider-patient relationship exists, you should establish the other three criteria: namely, a breach of that duty, a showing of damages, and a showing that one directly caused the other. However, there is no single objective standard of care; the standard will vary between cases because every case has so many variables. Florida law’s official definition states that the standard is at the level of “care, skill, and treatment” that is seen as appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers, “in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances.”
“All relevant surrounding circumstances” will differ from case to case. The “relevant surrounding circumstances” of a case involving, say, a doctor in a rural hospital with outdated equipment will be very different than those of a case involving a medical professional in an urban clinic with access to the latest technology and expertise. What this means in your case is that your expectations must be clear, both in your own head and in your filings. A knowledgeable attorney can help to ensure that your claim has the best possible chance of recovery.
Call A Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, filing suit against them can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. However, enlisting an experienced Tampa medical malpractice attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to make the process less intimidating. We are well versed in the little details and the procedures your filing must follow if you are to have a chance at recovering for the harm you have suffered. Call our offices today for a free consultation.