Health News Florida released a list of doctors with the most reported medical malpractice cases in Florida from 2000 to 2016. The list includes 29 doctors with at least six medical malpractice complaints that resulted in an insurance payout.
The “top” doctor on the list is George Arcos, who specializes in anesthesia and pain management, and has 20 paid claims but still has a clear license to practice medicine. Other doctors on the list have lost their licenses to practice medicine. The list also includes a total amount of the claims paid.
Claims That “Bad” Doctors Get Sued Repeatedly
Some law firms claim in their advertising that medical malpractice claims often involve doctors who have been sued before. While that is true for this list, my experience with medical malpractice claims is that the overwhelming majority of doctors do not frequently get sued for malpractice and that it only happens when there is a serious medical mistake.
Medical students are often told in medical school that they will make mistakes over the course of their career that will kill people but that should not deter them from going into the practice of medicine. While that might be true, medicine is not perfect and involves some degree of “art.”
Medical malpractice, on the other hand, is a legal claim when all of the “elements” are there. There are many medical errors that are a “near-miss” or are just difficult to prove that they were the “cause” of a bad medical outcome.
Payouts Are Not That Much
The most remarkable thing that jumps out at me from this list is not the number of times each doctor has been sued but is instead the total payout amount. For Dr. Arcos’s insurance companies to have only paid out $1.3 million for 20 claims means that each claimant did not receive very much money. What is likely unreported is money that comes from hospitals or corporate defendants. The amounts paid by hospitals likely far exceeds the amounts paid on behalf of individual doctors.
It should not be forgotten that the practice of medicine, despite the fact that doctors help a lot of people, is still largely a very successful business enterprise. An individual doctor in Florida may only carry $250,000 in malpractice insurance while a corporate defendant with tens of millions of dollars in revenue will have much, much more liability insurance available or the ability to pay a civil judgment.
The big money in medical malpractice is not in suing the doctors but is instead having a viable legal theory against a hospital or large medical practice. A claimant who is in a persistent vegetative state may only be able to collect $250,000 from a doctor before the doctor declares bankruptcy while a multi-million dollar hospital would not declare bankruptcy simply to satisfy a $10 million liability.
So What Makes A Good Medical Malpractice Case?
In short, a good medical malpractice case involves a medical error that causes injury or death that should have been preventable. A good medical malpractice case also must meet legal requirements such as having an affidavit from a similarly credentialed doctor saying malpractice occurred and that damages are a result of the malpractice. In addition, there must be real financial harm to the injured person or to a qualified survivor in the event of a death case.
You do not have to prove that the doctor you are suing should not be practicing medicine or is completely unqualified. The legal standard is that a “breach of the standard of care” must have occurred, which essentially means that a “reasonable” physician under like circumstances would not have made the same mistake.
You cannot sue just because your doctor wasn’t the best in his or her field or because you did not get the best medical outcome possible. Instead, you have to prove that your doctor did something wrong (within the concepts of medicine) that most other doctors in the same situation agree that should not have been done.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Medical Malpractice?
If you suspect that a medical error occurred in your treatment or the treatment of a loved one, you should contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney to discuss whether you have a legally valid case. An appointment to discuss your case with a Lakeland, FL medical malpractice attorney is free. You will also be able to ask questions to the attorney as to why your case has legal merit or not. Call today to schedule your free appointment.