Florida Doctors with Multiple Medical Malpractice Payouts Still Treat Patients By Tod Aronovitz | 10/22/14 | 0 Comment

Despite numerous medical malpractice payouts, doctors in Florida are still allowed to keep practicing, many until retirement. A recent CBS News report—about doctors who continue to practice medicine even when their patients had been seriously injured or died under their care—revealed this alarming trend in Florida. The culprit: the Florida Board of Medicine, which has failed to place restrictions on medical licenses even though it is the party responsible for stopping unsafe doctors from practicing.

The doctor with the most medical malpractice lawsuit payouts since 2000 is Dr. Ernest Rehnke of St. Petersburg, according to CBS News, tying him for the most of any practicing physician in Florida. However, the Florida Board of Medicine has never restricted his license. A malpractice payout can come as a result of a judgment or a settlement, but most come from settlements.

Further findings uncovered that of the 25 doctors with the most malpractice payouts in Florida, not one of them had been prevented from practicing solely for providing poor medical care. Only four of the 25 had lost their licenses, but three were for drug trafficking or billing fraud charges, and the fourth was for a failure to comply with the terms of a lesser punishment.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and current senior adviser of the watchdog group Public Citizen, believes these figures show that state medical boards are not doing their job of protecting patients. His report covering 1990 to 2009, found that of more than half the doctors in the U.S who had their privileges restricted or revoked by a hospital had never even been fined by their state medical boards. On top of that, Dr. Wolfe disclosed that hospitals usually only go after the most risky physicians.

Public Citizen also ranked state medical boards based on the number of actions taken per physician in their state. Those with the most: Ohio, Oklahoma and Alaska. Those with the least: South Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida.

Elected officials in each state oversee their medical boards. In Florida, that is State Senator Jeremy Ring, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee. He said that as a result of Florida’s ranking, he intends to introduce legislation to improve the board’s ability to protect patients.

To look up malpractice payouts made on behalf of Florida doctors, click here.

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