Florida Healthcare: Patients Beware

Medical services are a booming industry in the U.S., evident by the proliferation of surgical centers, walk in clinics, health “spas” and various outpatient treatment centers that now advertise on television. As a consumer, do you know the difference between these different types of facilities?  What differentiates one from another?  Are they all held to the same standard of care and safety? Who is accountable if something goes wrong?

The Miami Herald recently published an important article about the risks and ramifications of plastic surgery centers in Florida and raised some critical issues that consumers must consider when making decisions about health care facilities.

The menu of healthcare options are extensive, especially for elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery, pain management, etc. However, these treatment centers are not necessarily held to the same standard as a hospital.  Patients should be weary and mindful that all medical services are not created equal.

A clinic that does not accept third party payment for services (i.e. insurance companies) and only accepts cash, check or credit cards is not required by Florida law to be vetted by the state’s healthcare regulatory department, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

Additionally, only clinics that are physician owned can be reprimanded by the Board of Medicine. Private clinics funded by investors cannot be shut down by the Board of Medicine, even if they have conducted bad acts or hurt patients.

Over the last several years, the Florida legislature has taken significant steps to deregulate healthcare, placing patients at risk.  Doctors are not required to carry insurance for medical malpractice claims, so there is no recourse for patients who may be catastrophically injured by negligence or medical error.   There is a staggering disparity between ratio of doctors who are charged with malpractice vs. those who are actually disciplined.

Ultimately, consumers have to be vigilant about the choices they make when choosing a service provider.

  • Research medical facilities to confirm that they are licensed using this website:   FloridaHealthFinder.gov.
  • Look up your doctor and see if they have any disciplinary actions:  Medical Quality Assurance search service.
  • Always get a second opinion before engaging in any kind of surgery.
  • Don’t be lured by ads and testimonials.  Take the time to research all your options.

Domnick Cunningham & Whalen is dedicated to protecting victims of medical malpractice. If you have questions about medical errors, or if you have a family member who has been a victim of negligence, please contact Domnick Cunningham & Whalen for information.  To arrange a consultation, please call us at (877) 471-7619, or visit our website today at www.dcwlaw.com.