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Bad doctors in Florida keep treating patients

If you're any kind of patient of any kind of doctor in Florida, it pays to be very careful about which doctor you choose to trust.

Better yet, you might try to just avoid needing one altogether. Otherwise, you have no idea whether that doctor should be practicing medicine or not. Even when officials finally do take action to stop a bad doctor from further ruining people's lives, they may delay acting for months or years while that doctor continues to flout their authority and practice "medicine" anyhow.

Take the case of one cosmetic surgeon whose timeline of offenses goes all the way back to 2002. It took until 2014 before the Medical Board told him to stop performing surgeries or even assisting. He continued to do so anyhow. In 2016, the Board finally got around to revoking his license -- but they haven't actually done it. Administrative red tape holds that process up while the doctor's representatives file his appeal. (The only advantage for patients is that the doctor is now having his own health difficulties, which leaves him unable to actually work.)

An investigation by reporters in Florida found that this case is the rule, rather than the exception. Bad doctors who are determined to be dangerous to patients by the state's own Medical Board are still allowed to see and treat patients, protected from losing their licenses by a Byzantine process that slows down any real authority the Board has.

Investigators found some of the following facts:

  • Out of around 1,500 investigations into "serial malpractice" by doctors in a 10-year period, the health department has only ever disciplined seven doctors.
  • It can take longer than two years for a doctor to be prosecuted for even obvious problems.
  • While the Department of Health can ask the state to suspend a doctor's license while he or she is under investigation, it rarely does -- leaving those doctors to practice on unwitting patients the whole while.
  • There are 400 active cases right now under investigation -- including a case involving a doctor who let a patient die in his office, turned away paramedics and then falsified records saying the patient was sent home alive.

Investigations like this show how easy it is to fall victim to medical malpractice and professional negligence.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Dangerous doctors: Despite malpractice charges, Florida lets them keep treating patients," Stephen Hobbs, Oct. 26, 2017

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