Florida Supreme Court To Rule On Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against University
Medical malpractice lawsuits against universities and their affiliated hospitals are quite common. In one such case, the University of Florida and Shands Hospital filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the medical expert provided by the plaintiff was not of the same specialty as the doctor who allegedly contributed negligence. Below, we’ll discuss how medical experts are used in medical malpractice lawsuits and what the decision could mean for both this plaintiff and future plaintiffs.
This case arises from a post-surgical infection suffered by a patient who had surgery on her back. The plaintiff had a cervical disc fusion which later became infected. She filed a notice that she would be pursuing a lawsuit against the doctor and hospital, and with the help of a medical expert, was able to provide a foundation for her arguments. However, the defendant moved to have the expert witness removed from the case on the basis that his specialty was different from the doctor who performed the surgery. The doctor who performed the cervical fusion was a neurosurgeon. The doctor who provided the expert witness was an internal medicine specialist and cardiologist. The trial court ruled that because the dispute was related to post-surgical care and not the surgery itself, that the expert witness could render an opinion in this case. The defense appealed the ruling and now the Florida Supreme Court will hear the case.
In this case, the defense believes that the plaintiff should produce an expert witness who is also a neurosurgeon. However, the plaintiff’s arguments do not allege that the neurosurgeon made a surgical error, but rather that the post-operative care of the patient was deficient. This resulted in a post-surgical infection. It bears noting that a nurse practitioner oversaw the post-surgical care of the patient and was under the guidance of the neurosurgeon at the time. Therefore, the plaintiffs contend that the procedural issue is not relevant to the case. The defendants have incentive to make the case take as long as possible. The trial court has ruled that an expert witness has sufficient expertise to discuss post-surgical care. This seems to make sense. Whether or not the technical aspect of the law will be enforced where it is unnecessary is completely up to the Supreme Court to decide.
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