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How Do Comorbidities Impact a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim?

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One of the primary elements in proving a medical malpractice case is showing that medical negligence was a direct cause of the patient’s injuries.  As a result, comorbidities—or preexisting conditions—can cause some issues in proving your case. Having more than one medical condition can complicate a claim, especially when the issue is related to the patient’s lifestyle choices, such as smoking. Regardless of whether there is considerable evidence of a mistake or substandard care, the presence of comorbidities may act as a hurdle or even a bar to recovering compensation.

Despite the challenges, an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer may be able help you overcome some of the hurdles involved with comorbidities. At times, it is even possible to use multiple medical conditions to your advantage. To better understand these complicated legal issues, an overview may be useful.

Defining Comorbidities: Before getting to the issue of how they can impact a medical malpractice claim, it is important to understand what comorbidities are. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when a patient exhibits two or more coexisting disease processes, he or she is said to have comorbidities. Beyond this basic definition, different factors impact the details of a comorbidity, including:

  • The nature of the health condition;
  • The chronology of the patient developing multiple conditions; and
  • The importance of the condition to normal functions.

The relationships between and among these factors impact the severity of comorbidities and how they may impact overall patient health. 

Common Comorbidities at Issue in Medical Malpractice Cases: There are certain medical conditions that, when combined, are more likely to lead to patient harm when under a physician’s care. Many are tied to lifestyle choices, especially when the patient is overweight. The implications of diabetes, hypertension, wear and tear or weight-bearing joints, and related conditions are wide-ranging. Some of these health issues increase the risk of stroke or stroke, particularly during a surgical procedure. Those that impact blood circulation can lead to serious infections. 

Two Sides of the Comorbidity Issue: There are two ways of looking at comorbidities in a Florida medical malpractice claim. 

  1. Elevated Standard of Care: The presence of comorbidities does not change a physician’s duty to provide care in accordance with accepted medical standards. However, it does affect how the doctor may treat a patient, knowing that he or she suffers from a medical condition. For example, a provider should consider a person’s diabetes when treating a foot injury.
  1. Shield to Liability: Comorbidities can play the opposite role in a med mal claim, since it can be difficult to tie the doctor’s alleged negligence to patient harm. Too many variables may lead an insurance company to deny a claim, or cause the jury to find in favor of the physician.

Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney to Set Up a Free Consultation 

As you can see, comorbidities can lead to legal challenges, but they can also work in your favor under certain circumstances. At Freidin Brown, P.A., our Miami medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge regarding such obstacles, so we are prepared to overcome them. To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact our offices to schedule a no-cost case evaluation.

Resource:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2713155/

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