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Florida Supreme Court considering duty and hospital negligence

There are many moving parts to a Florida medical malpractice case, and to succeed on such a claim, a victim must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, certain elements. Amongst those elements is that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. A duty of care certainly arises when a doctor takes on a patient, but exactly how far reaching is that duty?

This is an issue that the Florida Supreme Court is now considering after hearing oral arguments in a medical malpractice case revolving around a woman's suicide. The woman, who was diagnosed with depression, had called her doctor to report extreme mental strain and other mental health issues. Nonetheless, her doctor, upon receiving the message, changed the woman's prescription and referred her to a gastroenterologist to address issues with her gastrointestinal tract. The next day, the woman was found dead by suicide.

The question in this case essentially centers on whether the doctor could have foreseen the risk of suicide. If he could, which some claim medical advances allow, then the Court may find that he owed an extended duty of care to his patient that was breached. But, it could be months before the Court's justices release their ruling.

As this case highlights, the laws surrounding medical malpractice are always in question and, thus, always changing. So, those who are considering filing a lawsuit against their doctor should ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest legal knowledge. They can proceed in a manner that is most fitting. One of the best ways to do this is to discuss the matter with an attorney.

Source: Jacksonville Daily Record, "Florida Supreme Court ponders malpractice in patient's 2008 suicide," Sep. 3 2015

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