Wrong Leg Amputation Leads to Malpractice Suit in Aventura, Florida
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Wrong Leg
Amputation Leads to Malpractice Suit in Aventura

Wrong Leg
Amputation Leads to Malpractice Suit

By: Jason Neufeld
Posted in: Medical malpractice

A few years ago, a Florida doctor was lost his medical license and was taken to court because he accidentally amputated the wrong leg on a sick patient. According to the doctor, both legs were so diseased and sickly looking that he couldn’t tell which leg was the “bad” leg. He further said that it was only a matter of time before the other leg would need amputation as well. But it does not change the fact he cut off the wrong leg. The doctor had numerous opportunities to confirm the correct leg prior to the procedure, including a last-minute chart look at the chart in the operating room which stated the leg that should be amputated.

It wasn’t until mid-surgery when a nurse realized the doctor had made the mistake. By that time it was too late. The doctor also previously amputated another patient’s toe without that patient’s permission.

Having to lose a part of your body due to illness is not easy. It is one of the most difficult in life a person may have to endure. But when the medical professional administering care makes a mistake, not only does it change your life drastically, but it can affect you mentally.

What You Need to Know Before You File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida

Statutes of limitations

In the state of Florida, the lawsuit for medical malpractice starts two years after you have discovered the injury or up to four years after the malpractice took place. If you sue the healthcare provider after four years, you may not have a case. There is one exception though if a healthcare provider was concealing their malpractice and deliberately defrauding you. If this is your case, the statute of limitations will be two years from the time your injury was discovered and up to seven years after the malpractice occurred. These laws don’t apply to minors with cases that started before their eighth birthday.

What constitutes a medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a patient is injured due to a medical professional’s negligence. You will need to first prove a few elements throughout your medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Communication with your medical provider – In order to sue your doctor, you have to first prove you had hired your physician and he or she had agreed to work with you. You can only sue medical practitioners if the error took place during the time you employed them.
  • Duty of care and breach of duty – Medical professionals are required to follow established standards. If they violate their duty of care, they are considered negligent and a target of legal action.
  • Causation – Victims of medical malpractice have to prove the medical practitioner’s negligent actions were the direct cause of their injuries.
  • Damages – In order to receive compensation for your losses, the injuries must have caused non-economic and economic damages such as lost income, medical bills, loss of earning capacity, etc.

Most common medical malpractice damages

You can receive compensation for damages caused by a medical professional’s negligence. Some of the most common malpractice damages include:

  • Medical costs – This category includes medical bills such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescribed medicine, ongoing therapy and other future expenses.
  • Lost income – Some victims of malpractice need to take time off work to recover from the injuries caused by the medical error. They can seek compensation for lost wages while recovering.
  • Earning capacity – It’s possible that a medical malpractice victim will not be able to perform certain tasks that he or she used to perform at work. Consequently, the earning capacity will be less. In these type of cases, they may also qualify for compensation.
  • Pain and suffering – People experience pain in a variety of ways, including mental suffering. Depression, emotional distress, and feelings of frustration are very typical in this type of scenario.

When it comes to taking action against doctors in Florida, there is not much done. It is a slow process that may lead nowhere. Doctors with medical malpractice charges are allowed to continue seeing other patients. The system is just too slow to discipline these doctors after a medical malpractice settlement.

A recent investigation by the Sun Sentinel shows that:

  • The Florida Department of Health should determine whether to charge a doctor six months after the complaint was filed. However, they generally take longer than that.
  • Cases that require more than one year should be expedited yet they are generally prosecuted within two years or longer.
  • While the license of these doctors can be suspended while medical malpractice cases are pending, it is very rare seeing the Florida Surgeon General suspending a license.
  • Doctors involved in lawsuits of 50K or more during the past 5 years should be investigated. Out of 1,500 investigations in Florida over the last decade, only seven actually led to discipline.

Prosecuting Doctors in Florida Can Be Difficult

There are several reasons for delaying prosecution, including patients unwilling to cooperate and doctors who simply moved out of state. Many of these cases are complex requiring the intervention of a qualified attorney. Unfortunately many victims of medical malpractice don’t fight and these doctors get away with murder. The only way to re-drive compensation for your losses is to sue.

Many cases are currently pending. Hundreds of them drag on while medical errors continue to increase. Doctors with pending medical malpractice cases keep making the same mistakes and nothing is done to correct the situation. These doctors should be disciplined but they are not.

While it is true prosecutors are overworked, that’s not a valid excuse to allow professionals in the medical field violate the code of ethics and get away with it. There are only 28 attorneys currently handling about 800 cases in Florida. Many Florida doctors with medical malpractice charges keep practicing and evidence expires. If you are a victim of medical malpractice, the sooner you and your personal injury attorney can work together, the better for your case.

We Can Help

If you were to find yourself in this tragic scenario, one of the first things you need to do is contact a personal injury attorney experienced in medical malpractice who can handle your case with care and compassion, but also with conviction. The medical malpractice attorneys at Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA have been serving clients in South Florida area for years.