By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

Medical Malpractice: What Qualifies as a Medical Error

When a medical provider’s action or omission compounds your existing illness or injury, you may not know where to turn for assistance with damages like medical bills or lost wages. Trying to determine whether or not your injury constitutes a medical error that rises to the level of negligence can be a convoluted process without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. 

The medical malpractice attorneys of Osborne & Francis have the expertise required to make this determination and help you pursue compensation for your damages, if appropriate. You can reach out to us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and receive information about our services.

Understanding the Requirements for an Injury to Be Considered a Medical Malpractice Error

The following requirements must be met for you to be able to file a lawsuit for a medical error. If you're uncertain if your case is valid or not, contact Osborne & Francis for a free case review.

The Error Happened Within the Context of a Provider/Patient Relationship

Any plaintiff attempting to seek compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit must start by establishing that the error occurred within a doctor-patient relationship that both parties consented to. Stipulating the existence of a doctor-patient relationship helps to protect providers from being held liable for injuries that were not their responsibility to treat.

For example, a doctor who consults on a case as a professional courtesy for a fellow physician but never examines, diagnoses, or treats the patient would likely have a solid case for arguing that no doctor-patient relationship existed between themselves and the injured person. To prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed, a plaintiff may rely on medical records, emails, and other forms of documentation.

Doctors are not the only medical professionals who can be held accountable for medical malpractice, but in this designation, “doctor” is a placeholder for medical provider. The point of requiring proof of a doctor-patient relationship is to show that the provider had a legal obligation to treat the patient according to the standard of care. This is similar to establishing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in a personal injury claim. 

The Provider’s Error Violated the Standard of Care

Even though we hold healthcare providers to an extremely high standard, at the end of the day, they are still people who experience fatigue, get distracted, and are capable of making mistakes out of ignorance. Medical malpractice law acknowledges this by obligating medical professionals to provide the standard of care.

The standard of care is the basic level of care you, as the patient, are entitled to receive from a provider. To determine whether or not a provider’s actions failed to meet the standard of care, the test is to ascertain the answer to the following question: Would a medical provider with the same level of education and training make a mistake like this under similar circumstances?

If another reasonable, similarly qualified provider would be susceptible to making the same kind of error that caused your injury, it is unlikely that it rises to the level of medical malpractice. On the other hand, if your provider made an error that comparable colleagues would not have made, such as an action that resulted in a never event, you may have grounds for a claim.

The Provider’s Error Caused Additional Injury or Illness

A provider can make a mistake with a patient that violates the standard of care and still not be liable for medical malpractice. In order for the provider’s action to qualify as medical malpractice, their negligence must have inflicted additional harm on the patient beyond their original illness or injury that they sought treatment for.

For example, consider a scenario where a nurse carelessly administers the incorrect dosage of a medication to a patient. The patient does not experience any ill side effects despite the increased dosage, and it still effectively treats their condition. The nurse’s mistake had no consequences for the patient’s health, so despite their negligence and violation of the standard of care, there is no foundation for a medical malpractice claim.

Alternatively, when a provider’s error exacerbated a patient’s condition, halted or prolonged their recovery, or caused an entirely new injury or illness, that could be considered negligent. For example, if a lab tech was busy playing on their phone and failed to notice they mixed up patient samples, they could potentially be found liable if the treatment based on inaccurate results causes another injury to the patient, like organ damage.

The Medical Error Resulted in Damages for the Patient

The final piece necessary to establish the legitimacy of a medical malpractice lawsuit is proving that the injuries caused by the provider’s violation of the standard of care resulted in measurable damages for the patient. This can include economic damages, or monetary costs, as well as non-economic damages, which provide financial compensation for intangible or emotional losses. Examples include:

Without demonstrable damages, the purpose of filing a personal injury claim is lost for most cases. Let’s say that an experienced surgeon who was in a rush to leave lacerated an organ during a simple procedure. Although they technically sustained an additional injury, the patient did not experience any discomfort, spend any additional time away from work, or incur any additional bills. 

The primary point of a personal injury claim is to allow the injured party the opportunity to recover compensation for the costs they have unfairly experienced as a result of another party’s negligence. Once a case has fulfilled the other criteria for a medical malpractice claim, it’s somewhat unusual that a patient would avoid damages, but this step is still important because the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that their injuries resulted in their damages.

Why Should I Choose Osborne & Francis to Represent Me? 

Medical malpractice lawsuits are often challenging to prove, as the criteria for establishing negligence and liability are more stringent as compared to the average personal injury lawsuit. At Osborne and Francis, our team is quite familiar with how to compile persuasive evidence to meet the requirements for a medical malpractice claim

We believe in standing up for vulnerable Floridians, and our record of success demonstrates that we have put our skills and knowledge to good use doing just that. Our clients know that they can trust us to navigate unexpected obstacles in the claims process, reliably communicate case updates, and unapologetically pursue maximum compensation for their damages.

Contact Osborne & Francis Today for Help With Your Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you are considering hiring a medical malpractice attorney, it can be difficult to know where to look. We encourage you to start with a team that has earned the respect of their fellow personal injury lawyers and their clients, and values people over profit. At Osborne & Francis, we take pride in the results we have achieved, the clients we have helped, and the skills we have cultivated.

A complex medical malpractice claim may deter other personal injury lawyers, but our team at Osborne & Francis is known for rising to the challenge. Our team of tough negotiators is equipped to go to trial if that’s what is necessary to secure a settlement that compensates you for your medical bills, lost wages, and your additional pain and suffering.

As seasoned medical malpractice lawyers, we understand that being injured by a trusted provider can be a traumatic experience. Our team will work to earn your trust with consistency, diligence, and outstanding results. You can reach out to us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando to schedule a free consultation with one of our Florida medical malpractice lawyers.

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

J. Davis

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer/ firm — everything was done professionally exactly how I wanted. Due to COVID my personal attorney Mr. Garcia was still able to make things work in a timely manner and he never made me feel like he wasn’t working. Overall I’m happy with how my case turned out and I would recommend him and this law firm to anyone. 100% satisfied.”

Alfred

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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

E. Holland

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!

C. Smith

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

Erica F.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

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