Medical Malpractice

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The phrase ‘medical malpractice’ generally refers to personal injury or harm caused by the breach of a health care provider’s duty to his or her patient. Law allows the practitioners in the health care provider’s professional community to set the standard of care that may apply in any given circumstance. While the methods of compensating victims of medical malpractice are the same as in other personal injury cases, these can be more difficult and costly to prosecute because they turn on technical issues of medicine and expert testimony. As a result, most successful medical malpractice cases involve catastrophic or substantial injuries.

William deForest Thompson, Jr. is the only practicing trial lawyer in Florida known to have secured the licensing investigation records of area Hospitals. The national organization accrediting Hospital licenses throughout the United States is based in Chicago, Illinois. In 2005, the Florida’s Twentieth Circuit Court in the case of The Estate of Thomas v. Lee Memorial Health Systems, ordered the production of the Sentinel Event Reporting by that organization – the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospital Organization (JCHAHO) – at Lee Memorial Health Systems. As a result, Lee Memorial was forced to disgorge the extensive national investigation done against their license as a result of numerous medication and pharmacy errors causing deaths and other harms to patients there.

According to the Institute of Medicine in the 1990’s, an estimated 100,000 people died as a result of medical mistakes every year in the U.S. (a number that has more than doubled, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University). The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a Congressionally mandated, non-profit research body. Their initial report in the late 1990’s was alarming to the general population, but only confirmed what many inside the medical community have known for some time.

Since the original IOM report, additional studies have confirmed that the harm done by medical error is underestimated and growing. A study done at Johns Hopkins University in 2016 urged the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to list medical errors as the number three cause of death in the United States. Only cancer and heart disease kill more people, according to the Johns Hopkins researchers – 250,000 die from medical errors every year in the United States. To make matters worse, the record of these deaths are often inaccurate, making complete tabulation difficult. One recommendation made by Johns Hopkins is to have CDC add medical error to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.

The Centers for Disease Control instruct Doctors to list only medical conditions as the underlying cause of death on death certificates, a definition that excludes medical errors.

The original IOM report was followed up with another report that was equally alarming. IOM found and reported that racial and ethnic disparity exists in the delivery of health care regardless of income or insurance coverage.

“Disparities in the health care delivered to racial and ethnic minorities are real and are associated with worse outcomes in many cases, which is unacceptable,” said Dr. Alan Nelson, chairman of the Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.

According to one review of the report, blacks or African-Americans often get second class care resulting in higher death rates from HIV/AIDS, cancer and heart disease.

The IOM report cites time pressures on physicians, provider bias against minorities, language barriers and geographic proximity as reasons for this unacceptable state of affairs. Yet your state law may require you to rely on the medical community to determine if you are a victim of medical malpractice.

In the time since these reports, as discovered at Hopkins, the news has grown worse. Quality Fraud is a growing and frightening issue in our countries Hospitals and clinics. Recently, Lee Memorial was fined millions for unacceptable safety violations leading to serious and unnecessary harms in their patients. In Thomas v. Lee Memorial Health Systems, William deForest Thompson, Jr. and expert witnesses in critical care medicine identified an institutionalized level of quality fraud that had an adverse effect on patient outcomes. The fact that the Government – Lee Memorial is a governmental tax district and operates as a part of the municipality with “sovereign immunity” – has a monopoly on Hospital Services in this County of over half a million people is cause for serious concern. The same government health care monopoly also owns a majority of the local physicians and their office practices. The CEO of these Government Hospitals, despite working for the taxpayers – makes an annual salary of almost a million dollars even as his patients are being underserved by the Government Monopoly.

In a County where Government has a virtual monopoly on health care services (from physician office practices, urgent care and walk in clinics, rehab and Hospital facilities), your medical malpractice lawyer needs familiarity both with the politics of health care delivery and how to deal with the governmental claims of sovereign immunity.

William deForest Thompson, Jr. is one of the few lawyers in the State to actually obtain an award at trial in excess of a Government Hospital’s sovereign immunity limits. The political process required in this extraordinary circumstance requires the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee to pass what is known as a “claims bill”. William deForest Thompson, Jr. has successfully litigated medical malpractice cases through trial against government hospitals all the way through the claims bill process as demonstrated by the legislative activity in the case of Brittany Lee Nelson v. South Broward Hospital District.

Knowing how to meet the extraordinary burden of pursuing a medical malpractice case is the specialty of a small group of lawyers who spend every day litigating and trying medical malpractice cases. Our firm is a part of that small group.

Medical malpractice claims are now governed by special laws in Florida, Georgia and West Virginia designed to make it more difficult to file claims or receive a fair jury trial. Medical malpractice claims are unlike any other type of case and it is essential to find a lawyer with specific and tested experience in this field. Medical malpractice cases require access to and reliance upon expert witnesses. This Firm has developed nationwide contacts with some of the best physicians and other experts around the world in order to obtain the best and most reliable opinions in our clients’ cases.

Hiring a lawyer who is familiar and experienced in litigating and trying multi-faceted medical malpractice cases is of paramount importance when considering the investigation of such a claim. Your lawyer must understand the special protections and immunities sought by Hospitals and insurance carriers. He or she must be able to fight through these special-interest obstacles to achieve the fairest result possible.

Investigating a medical malpractice claim can be a daunting task for a trained lawyer, let alone a victim of medical malpractice or their family. There is very little in the experience of the average lawyer that could prepare him or her to investigate, file and prosecute a medical malpractice case successfully.

Our law firm has significant experience investigating, filing and trying medical malpractice cases successfully. Our resources and experience in the field ensure that your case will be handled professionally and honestly from the beginning. Our experience and expertise will provide you with reliable answers and information, while at the same time placing you on the path to a successful experience.