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Definition of the Week Medical Malpractice


Having surgery to amputate a leg is terrifying enough, but imagine waking up and realizing the doctor amputated the wrong leg. This was the scary reality for Florida resident, Willie King. In 1995, King, who had a diabetes-related circulatory disease, underwent surgery to have his right leg cut off below the knee. King’s surgeon, Dr. Rolando Sanchez, accidentally removed King’s left leg following a collection of medical mistakes. This case of medical malpractice made national headlines and ultimately cost Dr. Sanchez $1.5 million and his medical license. But while cases like this are shocking, they are not uncommon.

What is Medical Malpractice?

The case of Willie King and Dr. Sanchez is an extreme example of medical malpractice, which refers to negligent treatment by a medical professional or healthcare provider which results in injury, harm, or death. Ultimately, when someone seeks medical treatment, whether from a doctor or other medical professional, they are placing their trust in that person and should receive the proper medical care. When patients do not receive the proper medical care and sustain an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may have a personal injury claim for medical malpractice. To have a medical malpractice claim, a case must meet these four elements:

  • Duty: the doctor or medical professional had a duty to administer proper healthcare to the patient
  • Breach: the doctor or medical professional breached this duty
  • Causation: the aforementioned breach caused the patient some sort of harm
  • Damages: the patient sustained “damages” or harm as a result

Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases are extremely common in the United States, with upwards of 20,000 malpractice suits being filed each year.  While King’s case was just one example of medical negligence, here are some other commons types of medical malpractice:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Prescription drug errors
  • Surgery errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Administering anesthesia incorrectly
  • Leaving an instrument or surgical tool inside a patient

Florida’s Medical Malpractice Law

Medical malpractice law in Florida is complex because medical and insurance interests have made increased efforts to make holding doctors or hospitals accountable for mistakes more difficult. There are now specific governing laws to file a claim including a shorter statute of limitation. This essentially puts a time limit on how long an individual can wait before filing a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital.  Additionally, Florida law requires that in order to pursue a medical malpractice claim, one must include a professional medical opinion.

If you or someone you love believes they have a medical malpractice claim, it’s important to have educated attorneys to guide you through this legal matter. The experienced legal professionals at Khonsari Law Group have your best interest in mind and can help defend your rights. For more “Definitions of the Week,” click here, or visit Khonsari Law Group.

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