Medical malpractice is alarmingly common. While we, as patients, have no choice but to trust our health care providers to make the right decisions and put our best interests first, this trust proves to be misplaced far too often.
If you have concerns about medical malpractice in Florida, you need to take action. You need to be your own advocate, and you need to make sure you get the treatment you need and deserve. Far too often, patients who experience medical malpractice do nothing, and they feel helpless, and they let their circumstances get worse instead of doing what they can to make them better.
You Do Not Have to Live with the Consequences of Medical Malpractice
When you experience medical malpractice, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. Your trust has been breached, and you could be facing long-term (if not permanent) health consequences as a result of someone else’s mistake. But, you do not have to live with the consequences of medical malpractice. As a patient, you have clear rights under Florida law, and you can (and should) take legal action to ensure you have every possible opportunity to overcome your current situation.
With this in mind, if you have concerns about medical malpractice, there are both steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid. In this article, our Coral Gables medical malpractice lawyers explain what to do (and what not to do) if you believe you may have a claim against your health care provider.
5 Steps to Take if You Suspect Medical Malpractice in Florida
We’ll talk about what to do first. While there are several steps involved in pursuing a successful medical malpractice claim under Florida law, what you need to do right now is fairly straightforward. If you have concerns about medical malpractice, you should:
Step #1: Seek Treatment from a New Health Care Provider
If your previous health care provider committed medical malpractice, you need to seek treatment from a new provider. We know it can be difficult to place your trust in a new provider—especially after your old provider has made a major error—but it is extremely important that you get the treatment you need. Depending on the nature of your previous provider’s error, this could include not only treatment for the condition for which you originally sought care but treatment for the effects of your previous provider’s error as well.
At Silva & Silva, we have close working relationships with specialists at top medical centers and research hospitals in Florida and around the country. We can help you decide where to go for treatment, and we can help make sure your new health care provider has a clear understanding of what happened. We can also work with your new provider to ensure we have the records we need to prove your claim for just compensation.
Step #2: Collect All Documentation from Your Previous Provider
It will be helpful if you can take some time to collect all of the documentation you have from your previous provider. You don’t need to contact your previous provider’s office (in fact, it is probably best that you avoid doing so at this time), but instead, review your own records to determine what you have available. Scans, test results, prescriptions, emails, voicemails, messages in online client portals, bills, and statements of benefits (SOBs) are all relevant, and anything you have available will assist your lawyer in providing a preliminary assessment of your legal rights.
Step #3: Prioritize Your Recovery
Whether it is the holiday season or you feel like you need to devote your time to your career, there are plenty of reasons not to prioritize your health and wellbeing. But, there are even more reasons why you need to devote the necessary time and effort to recovering as fully and quickly as possible. If you fail to prioritize your recovery, not only could this exacerbate the effects of your previous health care provider’s error, but it could also jeopardize your medical malpractice claim.
What do we mean by prioritizing your recovery? In short, we mean doing everything you can to move on from your previous provider’s mistake. This means seeing a new doctor, following your new doctor’s advice, and taking all of the steps that are necessary for asserting your legal rights.
Step #4: Learn about Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
Speaking of your legal rights, understanding your rights is not easy. Medical malpractice laws are complicated, and they vary from state to state. While you don’t need to learn all about the law, it will be helpful for you to have a general understanding of how the law applies to your personal circumstances. Our recent article, When Can You Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida? is a good place to start.
Step #5: Speak with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Free
If you have any concerns about the quality of care you received at a Florida hospital or other medical facility, you should promptly speak with a medical malpractice lawyer. There is no reason to wait, and it costs nothing to find out if you have a claim. At Silva & Silva, we are more than happy to sit down with you to examine the quality of your previous provider’s care, assess your financial and non-financial costs, and help you make informed decisions about asserting your legal rights. As mentioned above, if you need help finding a trustworthy provider, we can assist you with this as well.
5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim
Now, let’s talk about what not to do. For every step you need to take after experiencing medical malpractice, there is a mistake you need to avoid. Here are five of the most important (and most common) mistakes to avoid if you have concerns about medical malpractice in Florida:
Mistake #1: Assuming that Your Health Care Provider’s Error was Unavoidable
It is true that some mistakes in the health care setting are unavoidable. But, it is also true that many – if not most – mistakes can be avoided with adequate care. If your health care provider made a mistake, you should not assume that the mistake falls into the former category. In fact, at this point, you should not be making any assumptions about your care. You need to make informed decisions based on reliable advice, and, as we discussed above, you should see a new doctor and consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
On the same token, if your health care provider has told you that there was nothing he or she could have done – or if your provider contacts you to try to dissuade you from filing a medical malpractice claim – you should not rely on your provider’s characterization of the events that transpired. You need to obtain an independent assessment from an unbiased third party, and you need to make sure you get to the bottom of what happened so that you can know for sure whether you are entitled to just compensation for medical malpractice.
Mistake #2: Giving Your Health Care Provider a Second Chance
Regardless of how long you have been seeing your health care provider, you should not give your provider a second chance. We have characterized this provider as your “previous health care provider” in our discussion above for a reason. Not only could seeing your old doctor put you at risk for suffering further adverse consequences due to another medical mistake, but it could also make it more difficult to pursue a successful medical malpractice claim.
We know it can be difficult to put your health in the hands of someone you don’t know. But, we also know how critically important it is to obtain professional care when you are coping with the effects of a medical mistake. We also know that there are many good doctors out there—including doctors who have treated our clients for decades.
Mistake #3: Assuming that You Cannot Get Quality Medical Care
In this same vein, you should not assume that quality medical care is unavailable. It is easy to feel this way, but it is important not to overgeneralize from one unfortunate – albeit one extremely unfortunate – negative experience. Quality medical care is available, and, again, we can help you find a trustworthy and widely-renowned provider who specializes in your area of need.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Situation
Dealing with the consequences of a doctor’s mistake can feel overwhelming, and this can make it tempting to ignore your situation. However, this is a mistake you cannot afford to make. If you fail to get the care you need, your condition and your long-term prognosis could both worsen. If you fail to assert your rights, you will have no chance of recovering the financial compensation you need to move on.
While moving forward may seem daunting, we are here to help. Our lawyers and staff will guide you through the entire recovery process; and, when there are steps we can take on your behalf, we will absolutely do so. We will make sure you have the information you need to feel confident and comfortable, and we will do our part to ensure that the process of obtaining quality care and pursuing your medical malpractice claim is as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
Mistake #5: Waiting Too Long to Take Legal Action
Finally, while some people do not ignore their circumstances entirely, they still wait too long to take legal action—not knowing the detrimental effects that unnecessary delays can cause. Even if you don’t run into Florida’s statutory deadlines (i.e., the two-year statute of limitations and four-year statute of repose for most medical malpractice claims), you can still face unnecessary complications and challenges if you wait to assert your legal rights. Of course, delaying your claim will also delay your recovery.
In summary, if you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, the best thing you can do is get help promptly. This starts with simply sending us a message or picking up the phone. Once you contact us, we will guide you forward step-by-step, and we will rely on our experience and our relationships with top medical specialists to help make sure you have every possible opportunity to recover from your health care provider’s error.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Coral Gables Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you need to know more about pursuing a medical malpractice claim in Florida, or if you need help understanding your legal rights, we strongly encourage you to get in touch. We will schedule a time for you to speak with one of our Coral Gables medical malpractice lawyers in confidence as soon as possible. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 305-445-0011 or get in touch online now.