Jacksonville Medical Tourism on the Rise
Recently, Jacksonville, Florida was recognized as one of the top ten cities in the nation as a “destination on the rise” by travel site Trip Advisor. When one considers visiting a particular locale, they think of things such as cool local attractions, hip music venues, rocking bars, and awesome restaurants. But it may be surprising to learn that a staggering number of visitors come in the form of medical tourists – those patients that choose to travel for treatment because they cannot receive it at or near their homes, are seeking better rates, better care, etc. As patients travel to a distant city to seek specialty medical care, so come family and extended family, friends, and other visitors who will all require some basic needs – places to stay, places to eat, and places for entertainment. These medical tourism dollars have a tremendous positive economic impact for Florida – to the tune of $5 Billion annually[i].
Driving medical tourism as being a large contributor to attracting visitors and becoming a medical tourist destination meant Jacksonville needed to invest heavily in growing medical tourism in the region. City leaders were able to attain medical tourism grant monies[ii], solidified partnerships with some of the biggest names in healthcare in the southeast, and helped foster an environment that encourages continued medical facility expansion. Names like Baptist Medical Center and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic, and University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute are all scrambling to build new and expand existing world-class facilities/treatment centers to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. Breakthrough medical technology employed at these facilities such as the gamma knife used in specialty cancer treatment has attracted patients as well as talented doctors and nurses from around the globe.
But with this rise in medical tourism, so increases the chances of a medical practitioner acting negligently in their patient’s care. What recourse is there when a patient’s treatment goes horribly wrong and they’re left injured, disfigured, or worse, dead?
What happens when things just aren’t right after treatment?
Coming from a different state or even a different country and traveling to an area for treatment is cause enough for stress already. Adding to this, it can prove unbearable to be confronted with a case where medical negligence causes a patient to sustain an injury or even death. If this has happened to you or a loved one, it’s important to understand the laws in the state this occurred. Medical malpractice laws and definitions vary greatly from state-to-state.
Just between Florida and neighboring Georgia, definitions of “medical malpractice” itself differ:
- FL medical malpractice: “…death or personal injury of any person in which it is alleged that such death or injury resulted from the negligence of a health care provider.” (F.S. 766.102).
- GA medical malpractice: “…damages resulting from the death of or injury to any person arising out of health, medical, dental, or surgical service, diagnosis, prescription, treatment, or care; or care or service rendered by any public or private hospital, nursing home, clinic, hospital authority, facility, or institution, or by any officer, agent, or employee thereof acting within the scope of his employment” (O.C.G.A. § 9-9-60).
Even subtle differences in each State’s laws can greatly affect the outcome of a medical malpractice claim. Each case is entirely different – facing variables that can only present themselves on an individual basis. That’s a good reason to make sure you partner with a law firm that has experience and a winning track record with cases involving medical malpractice. Let’s look at some of the many questions Farah and Farah attorneys have answered for our clients.
Frequently Asked Medical Malpractice/Medical Negligence Questions:
Q: Do I need a permanent injury to proceed with a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Yes. The expense to proceed in a case is significant and sometimes a condition resolves by the time the case proceeds. If this happens, the amount awarded to you in damages may have been mitigated to some degree.
Q: How do I establish damages in a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: There are various categories of economic and non-economic damages including, but not limited to, past and future medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, and disfigurement. If the negligence resulted in the patient’s death, then the patient’s survivors may have claims for things like loss of the relationship, support, and/or services.
Q: What is the “standard of care” in a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Simply put, this is the standard by which a reasonably prudent medical provider would render care in the community (F.S.766.102).
Q: What does “causation” mean in a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Whether or not the breach of a particular standard of care contributed substantially the patient’s injury or death.
Q: How long do I have to pursue a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Two (2) years from when one knew, or reasonably should have known, of the alleged medical negligence (F.S 95.11).
Q: Can a parent recover for the loss of an adult child (over 25 years of age) in a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Recoverable damages would only pertain to financial loss. Non-economic damages are non-recoverable in this case.
Q: Can a child (over 25 years of age) recover for the loss of a parent in a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: Same as above – recoverable damages would only pertain to financial loss. Non-economic damages are non-recoverable in this case.
Q: What does “loss of chance” mean in a claim for medical negligence and how does that impact a potential claim in Florida?
A: The loss of the ability to overcome or survive a medical condition. For example, with cancer treatment, this would mean losing the chance of surviving or entering remission because your chances of surviving were reduced by medical negligence. In Florida, the odds of survival need to have been reduced from greater than 50% to less than 50%.
Q: What is “wrongful birth” and does Florida recognize “wrongful birth” medical negligence claims?
A: Where negligence causes one to bear a child when one thought that the medical procedure, if performed properly, would not have permitted this to happen. Florida does not recognize such a claim however the injured patient could have a claim for his or her own injuries occurring as a result.
Q: Should I permit the hospital where my loved one died to perform the autopsy if I suspect medical negligence in Florida?
A: Generally, an autopsy performed by the Medical Examiner or a private autopsy is much preferred to having it performed in the same facility where the patient dies.
Q: How long does the process take if I proceed with a claim for medical negligence in Florida?
A: All cases are different and dependent on a great variety of variables. However, from experience, the process can take as long as 2-3 years given the complexity of any given claim and the amount of work involved – including the number of experts and the number of witnesses to be deposed, etc.
We’ve compiled quite a list of common the Q & A’s we’ve provided over the years – check out Ask Eddie on the Farah and Farah website to see more.
If you or a family member has been injured or killed because of a trusted doctor’s negligence, we’ll help you understand your options for recovering the fair compensation you need. Whether in Florida or Georgia, Farah and Farah has the experience to help you navigate the road to recovery. Integrated teams of attorneys, investigators, and support staff do nothing but handle medical malpractice cases. If you have questions, contact an office near you for a free in-person case evaluation with one of our highly experienced medical malpractice attorneys.
[i]Florida Tax Watch https://floridataxwatch.org/Research/Full-Library/ArtMID/34407/ArticleID/15784/Medical-Tourism-in-Florida
[ii]Visit Jacksonville https://www.visitjacksonville.com/media/news-releases/jacksonville-awarded-state-grant-to-promote-local-medical-industry/