In Florida, medical care providers can be held accountable for medical malpractice under rules set forth within Chapter 766 of Florida’s Statutes. Certain types of mistakes, such as operating on the wrong person or on the wrong body part, are presumed to be caused by medical negligence. These types of mistakes can give rise to a civil tort claim so victims and their families can recover compensation for losses caused by the health care provider’s error.
Operating on the wrong patient and operating on the wrong body part are both considered “never events,” because this type of mistake should never happen. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, however, such “never events” occur approximately 4,000 times annually throughout the United States.
When a never event occurs, a legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitur applies. This phrase translates to the thing speaks for itself. It means that the event was so obviously and clearly negligent and below the professional standard of care that a plaintiff who wishes to pursue a case does not have to specifically prove negligence.
While a patient in a normal malpractice case would have to demonstrate that a doctor provided substandard care, it is clear that a doctor who operated on the wrong body part or the wrong patient failed to live up to his professional obligation.
A victim who makes a claim for compensation after a never event should be compensated for all actual economic loss arising from the doctor’s mistake, including any missed work time, any future reduction in earning potential, and the costs of past, current, and ongoing medical care made necessary due to the mistake.
Non-economic damages should also be available to the victim, including compensation for pain and suffering, up to limits of either $500,000 or $1 million, as set by Florida damage caps found in Florida Statute 766.118.
A Florida medical malpractice lawyer can provide assistance to victims who were harmed due to a doctor operating on the wrong patient or wrong body party. An attorney can represent patients in a personal injury claim for damages, or family members of patients in a wrongful death claim if a doctor’s error was fatal.