What if, despite having the highest number of medical malpractice settlements in that period (there’s actually a tie at 11 with another doctor) he has never had his license suspended or taken away?
What if the only thing the Florida Department of Health had done to discipline this doctor was fine him about $8,000 and require that he do 50 hours of community service? For misdiagnosing an infection that caused that person to have his leg amputated and then die, months later, in the hospital?
What if, out of the 25 doctors with the most medical malpractice settlements in Florida, only 4 had lost their licenses to practice medicine? What if 3 of the 4 were because those doctors were charged with drug trafficking or billing fraud, not because they were harming patients?
Would you say that the Board of Medicine is doing a good job keeping patients safe from bad doctors?
What if I also told you that one of the main goals of the Florida Medical Association, the powerful lobbying group representing doctors, is “medical liability and expert witness reform” – in other words trying to limit patients’ rights to bring claims against bad doctors?
The sad truth:
The sad truth is that doctors and their insurance companies are fighting to strip the power to hold bad doctors accountable away from the individuals they serve. Patients often hit a brick wall when they bring a bad doctor to the attention of the Florida Board of Medicine. From the news article linked above:
About a year after Susie Dunphy’s death, her husband received a letter in the mail from the Florida Board of Medicine. It said the agency had investigated his wife’s case and found no basis to file a complaint against Rehnke.
“I thought it was unbelievable,” Dunphy said. “I teach medical students. This is something so basic I would expect my medical students to recognize this is not normal…It makes me wonder if they even reviewed the case.”
The solution is coming, but slowly. The Florida Supreme Court has rolled back some of the medical malpractice damage caps put in place to limit patients’ recoveries. Some legislators are working to make the Florida Board of Medicine’s protection of patients.
So what can you do? Call your legislator. Write them a letter. You are their constituent, which means they are supposed to work for you, not lobbyists. Tell them the Board of Medicine shouldn’t be letting bad doctors off the hook. Tell them that they should focus on protecting patients, not bad doctors.
What if, if everyone did that, we could change things for the better?