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Archive for June, 2011

Florida Governor Scott Loves Cataract Surgeons

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury News and Safety Resources

Our Coral Gables medical injury law firm was horrified to learn about the Florida Legislature’s passing of HB 479. This law evidences the further destruction of the legal rights of injured patients, while continuing to provide dangerous and unconstitutional protection for doctors and hospitals. The law is dangerous in that, rather than motivating safer and more humane care for patients, it actually insulates health care providers from legal accountability for their errors.

Yesterday, we discussed how Bill 479 affects expert witness testimony. Today, in Part Two, we discuss “Informed Consent” as it applies to cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is the removal of the eye lens often involving replacement with an artificial lens. Complications to the procedure are bleeding, swelling, retinal detachment and often a secondary cataract.

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Florida already had in place the Florida Medical Consent Law that requires doctors to inform and advise patients of the risks of undergoing a procedure. These are often thrust into the hands of a nervous patient moments before the procedure begins. There is no requirement that the consents be uniform, nor that they be in the language of the patient, nor that they be of a certain size font or type set, nor provided days or weeks before the procedure. Of course not, because that would simply make the patient more “informed.”

For some inexplicable reason, the Florida Legislature decided that, of all the types of procedures being performed in Florida, cataract surgery needed to have its own informed consent form. This special consent form, if signed by the patient, creates a rebuttable presumption that the doctor actually disclosed the risks to the patient. Therefore, no recovery would be allowed if the patient is injured by a “risk described” in the informed consent.

As a Miami lawyer who represents the elderly, I can only imagine that this law was passed to provide special treatment to eye surgeons to protect them from claims from the injured elderly and those with vision problems who had disputed whether they were properly informed of cataract surgery risks. These are the patients who would most likely be unable to read or understand the consent forms that are thrust into their hands along with insurance papers and prescription authorizations. If the Florida Legislature was truly concerned with having a presumption of proof of informed consent they should have required that the physician performing the procedure personally meet with and video tape the consultation and consent. I am sure that the surgeon that can perform surgery with a laser can operate a video camera, too. If Governor Scott really wants to make sure patients give informed consent, he should have surgeons carefully go through all of the risks with the patient on camera. I am sure that is more reliable than a signature on the bottom line.

“Dear Governor Rick Scott-Don’t Call Me If A Doctor or Hospital Injures You or Yours”

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury News and Safety Resources

As a Florida hospital injury lawyer, I have seen injured patients have their rights chipped away little-by-little. Today, Governor Scott and our Florida Legislature took a wrecking ball to patients’ rights and to the U.S Constitution when he signed into law Florida House Bill 479. I am sure that, unless you are a lawyer who specializes in the representation of injured Florida patients you may find it difficult to comprehend the damage this law will cause. The new law’s scope is so profound I have to blog in parts.

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Here is Part One:

Bill 479 creates a mandatory expert witness certification requirement for out-of-state experts that testify in medical malpractice cases. While this seems harmless, in reality most people do not understand how difficult it already is to obtain expert witness help on behalf of patients. Let’s start with Florida Statute §766.203(2)’s requirement that before any doctor or hospital can be sued for malpractice, the patient has to have a sworn affidavit signed by a doctor who is of the same specialty as the potential defendant and has worked in the same specialty for the previous three years. The witness must literally swear that the defendant committed malpractice. Sound simple enough? It’s not. In fact, it is very expensive and nearly impossible to find anyone locally who will testify against a fellow doctor in the same community. Most fear that they will be ostracized and blackballed from getting staff privileges, speaking invitations or pharmaceutical grants. This forces injured patients and their lawyers to search out of the state to find willing experts.

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Now, Governor Scott passed a law that requires one more hurdle. The expert has to be certified by the Florida Department of Health and pay $50.00. I wonder who at the Department of Health is going to be the gatekeeper on this? The new law goes further in that it will allow the imposition of discipline against the expert who provides “deceptive or fraudulent expert testimony related to the practice of medicine.” If it was not difficult enough to find a willing and qualified expert to testify on behalf of an injured patient, now experts are potentially subject to discipline if the Department of Health or the defendant doctor disagree with what they say. After all, isn’t this what juries are for?
It sounds to me that Governor Scott and the Florida legislature would prefer to just give doctors and hospitals complete immunity from accountability for the harm they cause, just like foreign diplomats, governmental contractors or big oil companies. That is until someone injures Governor Scott or his family.

What Can Law School Graduates Do To Get An Interview?

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Personal Injury News and Safety Resources

Our Florida hip implant injury law firm receives several unsolicited resumes a week from recent law school graduates applying for positions at our South Florida personal injury law office.

Getting your resume into the right hands has never been more of a challenge than in today’s current job market. If you blindly mass send your resume to a number of law firms, you will be lucky to get your resume past whomever they entrust to sort their junk mail from pleadings.

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Today, the best way to get your resume into the right hand starts with figuring out where and how you would be the best fit for the potential employer. This starts with a long, hard look in the mirror and some hard-answered question. Ask yourself if you really, truly want to be a lawyer, and if so what kind. Like most recent law school grads, you probably know very few real lawyers, if any. So, meeting real lawyers is the first step and the sooner that starts the better.

In my book, “Make It Your Own Law Firm. The Ultimate Law Student’s Guide to Owning, Managing and Marketing Your Own Successful Law Firm” I provide a detailed road map as to how to acquire and keep meaningful contacts that can and should become your mentors once you graduate.

The bottom line is you have to meet lawyers. Take a look at your state’s bar journal or your city’s or town’s local bar association web site and find events that you can attend now. Most have weekly or monthly luncheons, meetings or cocktail parties that you can attend for little to nothing as a law student or recent graduate.

Lawyers to the Rescue is another excellent way for law students to meet and work with lawyers. Lawyers to the Rescue is a non-denominational humanitarian organization created by lawyers committed to bringing legal assistance and humanitarian support to people around the world in times of crisis–regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

I believe one should create the relationship first with the potential employer and the interview will surely follow.