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Surgical Errors Attorney in Wellington, Florida

A case involving surgical errors was recently decided by the Florida Supreme Court. In a Palm Beach County medical malpractice case captioned Dockswell v. Bethesda Memorial Hospital, Inc., the patient was admitted into the hospital. The doctor placed a drainage tube into the patient’s body. After surgery, a nurse removed the tube. Part of the tube was allegedly left inside the patient’s body. A few months later, the patient experienced pain. Another surgery was performed to remove the remaining piece of the tube.

In deciding this case, the Florida Supreme Court discussed the foreign body presumption contained in the Florida Statutes. The foreign body presumption states that when an object is left in a patient’s body after surgery, such as a sponge, forceps, clamps, other surgical materials, it creates a prima facie case of negligence against the healthcare provider. The Florida Supreme Court stated that the foreign-body presumption is mandated when an object is found inside a patient’s body after surgery. Where a foreign body is found in a patient’s body, the patient is entitled to the benefit of this presumption. The burden of proof then shifts to the doctor, nurse or hospital to prove that no medical negligence occurred.

In a medical malpractice case, the injured party has the burden of proving that the healthcare provider’s actions are a breach the prevailing standard of care. The standard of care is the level of care that is recognized as being appropriate by similar healthcare providers. The discovery of a foreign body is prima facie evidence that the healthcare provider was negligent. When a foreign body is discovered, the burden of proof shifts to the healthcare provider and it is presumed that negligence occurred. The burden of proof is then placed upon the healthcare provider to overcome the presumption of negligence and to demonstrate how the foreign body could have been left inside a patient’s body for a reason other than negligence.

In the Dockswell case, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court for a new trial in which the foreign-body presumption was properly utilized.

To speak with a surgical errors attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.