Florida Court Discusses Medical Malpractice on Cruise Ships

The majority of cruise ships employ doctors to provide medical care to passengers who become ill while on board. Cruise ship doctors, like other medical professionals, can be held accountable if they commit malpractice, but they are not always held to the same standards as other physicians. In a recent Florida opinion, a court discussed the burden of proof imposed on a plaintiff alleging harm caused by a cruise ship doctor’s malpractice. If you suffered harm due to the carelessness of a health care provider, you could be owed damages, and it is advisable to speak to a skillful Florida personal injury lawyer about your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was aboard a cruise ship owned by the defendant when he became ill. He visited the ship’s doctor, who determined the plaintiff suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to the ship’s intensive care unit, but it was determined that it was better for him to remain on board rather than seek treatment at a port. The doctor contemplated treating the plaintiff with medication but determined that the risks outweighed the benefits.

Allegedly, when they returned to Florida two days later, the plaintiff was taken to the hospital, where he underwent heart surgery. He eventually had a pacemaker installed and had permanent medical issues due to the damage to his heart. The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging its negligent care caused his harm. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and both parties appealed. The defendant argued, in part, that the trial court incorrectly instructed the jury as to the standard of care.

Proving a Cruise Ship Doctor Committed Malpractice

On appeal, the jury’s verdict was affirmed. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that it was entitled to a new trial because the trial court erred by refusing to provide the jury with a standard of care instruction that was altered to fit the maritime medical malpractice context. The court explained that it is irrefutable that cruise lines must treat their passengers with ordinary care under the given circumstances.

In the medical negligence context, the duty imposed on cruise ships is not always the same standard of care that would be imposed on a treatment provider on land. The court explained that this is proper, as standards of care vary greatly among treatment providers. The court noted that the trial court properly advised the jury that what constitutes reasonable care should be evaluated in light of all relevant circumstances and that medical negligence occurs when a doctor does something a reasonable physician would not do in like circumstances. Thus, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Meet with a Seasoned Florida Attorney

People who suffer heart attacks typically require prompt and thorough care, and when they do not receive it, they may suffer irreparable harm. If you were hurt by an incompetent doctor, you have the right to pursue compensation, and you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. The seasoned Florida personal injury lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can gather the evidence needed to help you seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our form online or at 800-283-7442 to set up a conference.

Contact Information