Medical Malpractice | Orlando Accident & Injury Blog
An emergency nurse from Miami has won a medical malpractice suit against numerous individuals and groups who were responsible for misdiagnosing her inflammatory breast cancer as benign. According to public court documents and a lawyer statement, the nurse, Marlande Lazard, discovered a lump in her breast during a routine self-examination. She then saw a doctor for an ultrasound and mammogram. The doctors then misdiagnosed her with mastitis, which is a breast infection, rather than with the aggressive form of breast cancer that she was actually suffering from.
What is most alarming in this case is that eight different doctors were involved in her particular case throughout the misdiagnosis. The failure to correctly diagnose Lazard as suffering from inflammatory breast cancer resulted from numerous instances of neglect and a lack of communication with the patient. Further, the doctors and technicians did a poor job of communicating amongst themselves. After the initial screening, a lump had indeed been detected. In subsequent screenings, it seems as though the results from the initial screening were not consulted. Furthermore, Lazard herself was not asked about her condition by the doctors examining the test results in the second case.
The doctor in this particular instance, Dr. James Domesek from Signet Diagnostic Imaging Services, places the blame for his oversight on the shoulders of the ultrasound technician. Domesek claims that the technician never indicated the area where the initial lump had been detected. Additionally, Domesek claims that the technician never informed him about the previously conducted tests and their results.
The results of these mistakes were disastrous. Lazard was told that the tumor was benign and antibiotics were assigned to deal with the infection believed to be present. After some time passed, it became clear that the antibiotics were not helping in any way. Lazard then went to get a second opinion. This time, the doctor she saw diagnosed her correctly: incurable breast cancer. The most devastating element in all this is that if Lazard had been correctly diagnosed after first discovering the tumor, she would have had a chance to fight the cancer. Now, after the cancer was allowed to work uninterrupted for over a year, she is simply trying to live for as along as she can in order to support her two children.
Lazard’s court settlement for $21.6 million, awarded against Signet Diagnostic Imaging Services and Domesek, is a victory, but a thin one in light of what could have happened had she been properly examined at the outset of this process.
According to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, a court decision could end up serving as “another blow to a controversial 2003 law that limits the amounts of money injured patients can receive in medical malpractice cases.” The case being discussed involved a dental assistant who underwent carpal tunnel surgery and ended up with a perforated esophagus. The assistant, Susan Kalitan, was injured as a result of tubes being placed in her mouth and esophagus as part of the pre-surgery anesthesia process.
When you have to see a doctor, the experience is scary. You might have been in an accident or have a serious disease. You’re putting your trust in the doctors and want to receive the best possible care.
Orlando personal injury lawyers will be closely monitoring developments in an upcoming case before the Florida Supreme Court to see how it might impact caps on damages in malpractice cases. The controversial 2003 law was strongly supported by former Governor Jeb Bush and passed by state legislators, much to the dismay of malpractice victims and medical malpractice lawyers across the state.
In a case that is being monitored closely by Orlando medical malpractice attorneys, a federal judge recently ruled that a new state law is contrary to federal law and expressly preempted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Judge Robert Hinkle, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, recently ruled that a pre-suit requirement for pursuing medical negligence claims is contrary to federal law and the HIPAA. Under Florida Statute § 766.1065, which went into effect on July 1, a plaintiff wishing to pursue a medical negligence claim must comply with several pre-suit requirements. One of the requirements is that the plaintiff must provide the defendant with notice of the potential claim before the suit is filed. The pre-suit notice must also be accompanied by an authorization signed by the plaintiff that allows the defendant to interview the plaintiff’s health care providers.
In a move applauded by Orlando medical malpractice attorneys, a federal judge recently struck down a key Florida medical malpractice law that required a patient to allow a defending physician’s attorney to informally discuss the case with the patient’s other health care providers. The law allowed such discussions to occur without the patient or their legal representative present. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said that the Florida law violates the patient consent provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). [Murphy v. Dulay 4:113cv378].
Just a few weeks after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed two bills that change how medical malpractice case procedures are conducted, Florida lawyers have filed at least five lawsuits, which challenge the new laws. The new laws stipulate that any medical experts who testify in a malpractice case must be the same medical specialty as the physician who is the defendant in the case. The new laws also allow defense attorneys in malpractice cases to obtain medical information about the plaintiff in the case from subsequent healthcare providers. This provision is the reason that Florida medical malpractice attorneys have filed the lawsuits.
Five Florida attorneys have filed separate lawsuits in state and federal courts recently to overturn a new state law, which offers protection to doctors facing medical malpractice charges. They claim that the new law violates a person’s right to privacy provided by the Florida constitution, as well as violating a federal law that protects patient’s privacy. While not requiring medical professionals or their representatives to do so, the new law does allow health care providers to be called as witnesses, which could breach patient confidentiality and provide defense attorneys with information about a patient’s treatment.
Orlando elder abuse attorneys have been following a recent case of suspected abuse closely after hearing about the severity of the victim’s injuries. The Clermont Police Department and the Florida Department of Children and Families are investigating a local rehabilitation center on suspicion of elder abuse after an elderly man was taken to the hospital with third-degree skin ulcers on his buttocks. According to the police report, the man was taken to South Lake Hospital, where staffers alerted police and the state agency after treating the man’s ulcers. Given the advanced stage of the ulcers, staff members suspected neglect, prompting the investigation.
The Florida Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that could affect the ability of James O. Cunningham and other Orlando personal injury attorneys to build medical malpractice cases for their clients. The Court’s 5-2 ruling in a Broward County malpractice case prevented an insurance company’s attorney from speaking privately with a doctor who treated the plaintiff in the case. The ruling cited a Florida law, which the court states, "creates a broad and expansive physician-patient privilege of confidentiality."