In case you think your doctor couldn’t maintain his practice and be a professional dumpster fire at the same time, think again.
What about Florida's Three Strikes Rule for Doctors?
Florida’s “three strikes rule,” passed as constitutional amendment number 8 in 2004, was supposed to prevent physicians from continuing to practice after three or more incidents of medical malpractice, proven by clear and convincing evidence.
However, if a doctor settles before a verdict, they can avoid a ‘strike.’
And discipline often comes slowly or not at all.
In plain language, “three strikes and you’re out” is a joke. It hardly ever happens.
As a result, there are hundreds of doctors in Florida who are not only Not Good at what they do, but who routinely cause life-altering damage to their patients or worse. If you’re asking why they would continue to practice, I have some ideas. After suing some of these individuals, I’ve heard everything from “It’s everyone else’s fault!” to “I’m a genius and it’s too bad you can’t understand why my invented methodology is superior.”
Why is this allowed to happen?
This is unlikely to change any time soon. It is a complicated system that involves:
The Florida Department of Health, which must decide whether or not to file charges after a complaint. Within the Florida Department of Health is The Board of Medicine, which regulates medical doctors. A doctor is allowed to continue practicing while the case proceeds (which can take years.) Compared to the damage done, the fines from Department of Health prosecutors often look more like a slap on the wrist than any serious deterrent.
For a Department of Health prosecutor to pursue justice, they must make their case to a state board. These prosecutors are reportedly overworked and the board that they must make their case to, is often reluctant to take away a doctor’s license. That’s a subject for another blog.
To make matters worse, doctors are only required to carry $250,000 in medical malpractice insurance. In some cases, they carry more auto insurance and you’d be better off if they’d simply ran over you with a truck.
How to research your Florida physicians
Before seeing any physician or doctor, please take a moment to research them. The Florida Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance site offers six links, and you will need to go to three of them for each doctor you wish to research. The three search links are at the top of the page:
License Verification – which tells you whether or not their license is in good standing. If you read the bulk of this blog, you now know that doesn’t mean much and you need to proceed to the Practitioner Profile search. Navigate to the tab about actions and proceedings, but realize that any case older than ten years will not be here. The last search to conduct is Discipline and Administrative Actions.
I would advise any of my friends or clients to implement your own Three Strikes rule. If you see a pending complaint, your doctor may still be a reliable, responsible, professional. If you see two ‘strikes,’ you should be wary. And if you see three, you should find another doctor.
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