Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Medical Malpractice Standard

Because there are so many medical professionals involved in the diagnosis and treatment of injured and ill patients, it can be complicated to determine liability whenever medical errors are made. A personal injury attorney can help you follow the right path to pursuing a medical malpractice claim when such errors occur.

In the case of Saunders v. Dickens, there was a neurologist patient who was seeking diagnosis and treatment for the symptoms of numbness, cramping, and tingling in the extremities. It was the opinion of the neurologist that the patient was experiencing these symptoms because of diabetes, and he did not confirm this with testing. After ordering an MRI, issues with the spinal canal were discovered. A neurosurgeon advised that a decompression procedure was necessary and performed the procedure. The patient’s symptoms did not improve.

The reason for the lack of improvement was cervical cord compression. The patient became quadriplegic and then died because of this condition, and a medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the physicians who treated him.

The neurologist responded with a deposition from the neurosurgeon, which indicated that the same treatment would have been advised, even if the cervical cord compression condition had been known, because the patient did not have upper extremities symptoms.

However, because the neurosurgeon was still a defendant in the lawsuit, the Supreme Court of Florida determined that his testimony was self-serving and speculative, ruling that medical professionals cannot insulate themselves from liability with the testimony of a subsequent treating physician who claims that his own course of treatment would not have been altered. Another factor was that such a testimony would shift the focus onto proving that subsequent treatment would have been altered, instead of the standard of care of the physician in question.

Medical malpractice cases are usually complicated and difficult to organize in the most effective way. It takes a complete understanding of the law to go up against treating physicians. You should always contact a Miami medical malpractice attorney to discuss the details of your case if you think that you may have a claim for medical malpractice.

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