Florida Physicians Continue to Practice Despite High Number of Payouts
How would you feel if you trusted a physician with the well-being of your loved one, only to have the patient die during a routine procedure? To make matters worse, upon seeking compensation, you learn that the doctor was previously at the center of numerous malpractice complaints and financial settlements. According to a recent report by CBS News, this tragedy became one man’s reality when his wife died during a routine surgery for appendicitis. Though the physician ultimately paid a $250,000 settlement, further investigation led to the discovery of numerous recent malpractice payouts.
The CBS study revealed 11 previous malpractice payouts by the doctor within the last 13 years. This is reportedly one of the highest number of payout occurrences in the state of Florida. Yet, the physician continues to practice with no professional license restrictions. Upon learning this information, investigators expanded their research to the 25 Florida doctors with the most malpractice payouts. According to the report, not one of the physicians lost their license based on inadequate professional practice. Three licenses were revoked due to criminal allegations of drug trafficking or billing fraud. Additionally, one license was reportedly revoked when the physician failed to comply with a diversionary plan.
The Florida Board of Medicine is the licensing board for doctors within the state. While the CBS report asserts that it lists one of the lowest number of actions against physicians in the country, it also states that the issue is not limited to this state. The investigation reportedly found that, nationally, most doctors with restricted or revoked hospital privileges did not incur fines from their respective licensing boards.
Florida doctors paid out $203,671 in malpractice claims during 2012. Statistically:
- Female patients accounted for 53% of all malpractice payouts;
- Failing to diagnose was the most common allegation, accounting for about 20% of all payouts; and
- About 31% of all malpractice payouts involved a patient fatality.
What the Payouts Mean for Patients
Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Public Citizen Watchdog group was quoted in the CBS article as stating, “When you look at these doctors with the largest number of malpractice suits, you have to ask the question — at what point could we have prevented the last five, or the last ten?” He asserts that patients are not adequately protected by medical boards in some states.
While the Florida Medical Board did not participate in the study, it did make a statement asserting its diligence in “efforts to ensure the public is protected from unsafe or unscrupulous health care practice.”
For the patient, these numbers cause concern about a physician’s level of professionalism and skill. Unfortunately, many citizens seek medical assistance from doctors without knowledge of their malpractice payout history. However, they can advocate for themselves by contacting the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to inquire about malpractice payouts by specific doctors.
If you or a family member has experienced a death or injury due to the malpractice of a physician, call Pita Weber & Del Prado at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation. Put the skills of experienced trial lawyers to work for you.