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Florida Doctors With No Insurance Leave Patients Vulnerable

Posted on July 30, 2008

When you go to the doctor you make a few assumptions. You assume the doctor is a professional who has a license to practice medicine and went to medical school.  You assume they know what they are doing, and care about your welfare. Maybe you assume they have malpractice insurance, just in case something goes wrong. 

After all doctors do make mistakes and they should rightly cover you for any error they make on your body. 

However as the old adage goes —  never assume.

The Sun-Sentinel newspaper examined a physician database that operates in Florida to find that one-third of the physicians in Miami do not have insurance, and nearly one out of four doctors in Broward and Palm Beach counties are going without. 

Here in North Florida and around the state,about one-eighth of doctors have no medical malpractice insurance.  

A state law allows doctors to opt out of coverage. Essentially you are walking a tight-rope without a safety net if you choose one of these doctors.

Let’;s say the doctor cuts off the wrong leg, or leaves a sponge in you during surgery.  Perhaps he doesn’;t read the latest on a controversial drug that’;s about to be taken off the market.

The damage is bad enough, but without coverage, you are essentially being harmed twice. You can lose the ability to work and have mounting medical bills that you must cover if the doctor elects to go uncovered.  Most lawyers will tell you to forget filing a lawsuit, there is no insurance from which to collect.

For decades doctors in Florida have been able to go without medical malpractice coverage. 

Doctors must alert customers by posting a sign in their office. And they must promise to pay up to $250,000 if a patient receives a malpractice award. Facing that, a doctor could opt to go bankrupt to avoid a large judgment, leaving you with no options. 

One can very quickly surpass medical bills of $250,000, following a serious medical error.  

Chiropractor and Florida State Senator Dennis Jones, R- Seminole is trying to require doctors to have coverage. 

“You have to have insurance to drive a cab, but you don’;t have to have insurance to do brain surgery?” Jones said. “Patients basically are at risk.”

The state allowed doctors to opt out years ago to combat the high cost of malpractice premiums that can easily run into the mid-five and even six-figure range for a specialty.  Chiropractors, midwives, some nurses and optometrists still are required to carry coverage.

Yet nobody asks why insurance companies enjoyed 20 percent profits in 2006?   Perhaps they could lower the cost of premiums for doctors who can then be adequately covered. 

Consumers are the losers here. 

If you are the unfortunate victim of medical malpractice, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the system. 

Farah & Farah has been helping victims of medical malpractice for 25 years.  Visit the medical malpractice section of our Web site to have your questions answered.

Call us, but first, please ask your doctor if he or she has medical malpractice insurance. Never assume.