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Medical Malpractice in Nursing Homes

Ocala Attorneys Helping Hold Negligent Health Care Providers Accountable

Nursing home neglect can happen in many different ways. Some signs include bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, unexplained fractures, bad hygiene, and more. Sometimes, particularly in skilled nursing facilities, neglect amounts to medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor or nurse in a nursing home provides substandard medical care or misdiagnoses a resident so that they are incorrectly medicated or pass away from a lack of treatment, this would likely be considered medical malpractice. If you or a loved one was a victim of medical malpractice in a nursing home, the Ocala medical malpractice lawyers at the Dean Law Firm are available to help.

Medical Malpractice in Florida Nursing Homes

Under Florida Statute section 400.022, a certain set of basic rights is due to nursing home residents. These rights include the right to receive any necessary services to maintain health and wellbeing, to choose a pharmacy and doctor within reason, to refuse suggested treatment and participate in health care planning, and to receive information about medical services. When these rights are violated, it may be possible to bring a nursing home negligence or medical malpractice claim, depending on the circumstances.

Medication errors, failures to provide emergency medical care, failures to diagnose or take preventative steps for illnesses or infections, or creating conditions that result in infections or bedsores may all constitute medical malpractice. To establish medical malpractice, the plaintiff will need to show that the defendant owed the nursing home resident a professional standard of care, the defendant violated this duty, and because of the violation, the resident was injured or died. These elements must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a standard that means that it is more likely than not that the plaintiff's version of events is true.

There must be a causal relationship between the defendant's breach of the professional standard of care and the resident's injuries to recover damages. It is often difficult to establish causation in misdiagnosis cases. For example, a doctor may not catch warning signs of cancer, and due to a lack of a diagnosis, there is no chemotherapy or other treatment provided, and the patient dies. However, in some cases, it is not possible to show this causal relationship because the illness could not have been caught, even by a doctor using reasonable care. If a patient would have had the same outcome regardless of whether a doctor or nurse committed malpractice, it may not be possible to recover damages.

Many cases are complex because there is a breakdown in communications between a resident's treating physician and staff members who have medical degrees. Generally, nursing home nurses are supposed to provide proper communications that allow a treating doctor to stay apprised of a resident's medical condition. In some cases, there would have been a change in the outcome had staff members contacted a doctor earlier or communicated better about a patient's condition. In some cases, the doctor will defend on this basis. Our attorneys can look carefully at the situation and consult an expert about what should have been done, based on the unique facts of your case.

Retaining an experienced and credible expert is vital to establishing the elements of a medical malpractice case in Florida. Courts will dispose of medical malpractice cases if there is not sufficient expert testimony on the questions of the standard of care in the situation and causation. In one case, a resident's treating doctor failed to adhere to the standard of care in treating the resident for what turned into a stage IV bedsore. One expert testified that the way that a debridement was performed did not give the best chance for healing. Both experts testified that since the nursing home medical providers had failed to implement an appropriate protocol for the bedsore, the resident had developed an infection and died.

However, the surgical expert could not provide certainty when testifying about whether the bedsore would have proceeded in a different way had the debridement of it been done differently. An appellate court in that case found that the defendants deserved a directed verdict because the plaintiff had not been able to meet the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Retain a Resourceful Medical Malpractice Lawyer in the Ocala Area

At the Dean Law Firm, our experienced Ocala attorneys can represent you in a claim involving medical malpractice in a nursing home or another health care facility. Contact us at 352-387-8700 or through our online form. We also serve victims who have been subjected to medical malpractice in The Villages, Crystal River, and other communities in Citrus, Levy, Sumter, Marion, and Lake Counties.