Medical Malpractice Standard Clarified by Florida Supreme Court

When a patient is sick, it often takes a variety of medical professionals to diagnose and treat the condition. It is not uncommon for physicians, nurses, specialists, and others to be involved in a particular case. When a medical error is made, however, determining liability can be challenging. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our injury lawyers understand the meticulousness with which medical malpractice cases must be handled.

A recent case that dealt with the issue of causation is Saunders v. Dickens. In that case, the patient went to a neurologist for numbness, cramps, and tingling in his extremities. The neurologist concluded that the patient’s symptoms were caused by diabetes but did not do any testing to confirm. The neurologist ordered an MRI and found issues with the spinal canal. The neurologist consulted with a neurosurgeon, who stated that a decompression procedure needed to happen. The neurosurgeon performed the procedure, but the patient’s condition did not get better.

It turned out that the patient had cervical cord compression – a condition that ultimately led the patient to suffer from quadriplegia and die. A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the treating physicians.

In response to the claims, the neurologist presented a deposition given by the patient’s neurosurgeon, saying that he would not have altered the course of treatment of the patient even if he were aware that the patient’s cervical cord was compressed. This is because, according to the neurosurgeon, the patient was not yet experiencing any issues with his upper extremities. At the time the deposition was given by the neurosurgeon, he was still a defendant in the lawsuit.

Upon examining the case, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that in a medical negligence claim, a medical professional “cannot insulate himself” from liability through a “subsequent treating physician who testifies that adequate care by the defendant physician would not have altered the subsequent care.”

The court reasoned that the testimony by the neurosurgeon was speculative and self-serving. Additionally, this type of testimony improperly necessitated that the plaintiff prove “that a subsequent treating physician would not have dismissed the correct diagnosis on training,” as opposed to concentrating on the appropriate standard of care for the particular physician. The court went on to note that a subsequent physician’s testimony cannot protect a defendant physician from liability for his or her own negligent conduct.

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex, which is why it is useful to consult a knowledgeable Miami medical malpractice attorney who understands this area of law. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team understands the emotional, physical, and financial toll that carelessness by a health care provider can take on a patient and his or her entire family. You can rest assured that we can provide you with aggressive yet compassionate legal help at every step of the way. To learn more about your legal rights and options, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

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Fatal Car Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, September 25, 2015

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