A woman in Jacksonville blames emergency medical personnel at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center for leaving a knife blade in the back of her neck for the past three years. According to Tampa Bay’s WTSP, Edith McQueen was attacked by another woman with a knife three years ago and went to the medical center for help. Medical records there show that she was treated for a stab wound, but doctors did not find the blade. She had headaches over the next three years, but it was not until she had an x-ray in preparation for an MRI test that she discovered that the blade was still in her neck. The x-ray may have saved her life, in fact, because an MRI machine uses powerful magnets that would have attracted the knife, possibly pulling it through arteries in her neck.
McQueen has an attorney, who alleged in the article that “basic care was overlooked” by the emergency room staff. Specifically, he said he believes the emergency room should have x-rayed McQueen. This is one definition of medical malpractice — failure by a doctor or other medical professional to provide care that meets basic standards. However, the article also says that she may not have a case, thanks to Florida medical malpractice laws. The article does not specify which law might bar her claim, and unfortunately, as a South Florida medical malpractice lawyer myself, I know there are several laws that may stand in her way.
Thanks to a series of “tort reform” efforts, Florida has complex medical malpractice laws. They include limitations on how much compensation plaintiffs may recover and on the fees Florida medical malpractice attorneys may charge. In addition, people who want to file a malpractice suit in Florida must follow complicated notification rules before they can file their claim. That includes providing a verified medical expert opinion and waiting for informal discovery and investigation by the defendant’s (doctor or hospital’s) malpractice insurer. All of this takes time, of course, which matters because there is also a statute of limitations — a deadline by which you may sue. For Floridians over the age of eight, that’s two years from the date of the injury or the date it was discovered, but in any case not more than four years after the date of the injury.
Our Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys try to make the process easier on our clients by taking care of these details, but no attorney can provide extra time. And time may be what McQueen needs in order to preserve her case. Medical malpractice reform laws have a worthwhile goal — to keep doctors in the State of Florida — but all too often, they’re hijacked by special interests whose real goal is to preserve profits by protecting careless doctors and organizations from the consequences of their actions. The earlier we can begin a case, the better our chances of securing the money our clients need to alleviate the effects of a medical mistake that has changed their lives forever. If you believe you’ve been hurt by medical malpractice in South Florida and you’d like to speak with us about your legal options, please contact us today for a free consultation.