Florida plastic surgeons are maiming and even killing patients. They’re not only getting away with it, but they’re also still performing surgery, according to an investigation by USA Today.
Many Florida doctors who perform plastic surgery lack malpractice insurance. That means that not only do the victims of a botched procedure never get compensated, the doctors can keep operating, thanks to bankruptcy laws.
Nearly one in five plastic surgeons certified by the state of Florida don’t have malpractice insurance — coverage that Florida and most states don’t require of doctors. A doctor’s annual medical malpractice insurance in the United States can cost $50,000 to $200,000 a year, according to Forbes.
Investigation reveals dangerous practices
Operating without this insurance can enable doctors with repeated medical malpractice cases to stay in business without having to pay higher insurance premiums.
Florida established stricter plastic surgery regulations in June 2019 only after a separate investigation by USA Today and the Naples Daily News revealed dangerous practices in two clinics overseen by the same doctor. Eight of the clinics' patients died after surgery and nearly a dozen more needed to be hospitalized.
Still, Florida’s oversight of plastic surgeons leaves unanswered questions. Doctors in The Sunshine State only self-report whether they have medical malpractice insurance. The Florida Department of Health does not verify whether they are telling the truth. Nor does the department confirm that doctors without insurance have other funds available to pay claims that arise.
Even when patients can find an attorney willing to take their case and manage to get court judgments for their injuries and financial setbacks, they may be unable to collect.
The Florida Financial Responsibility statute requires physicians to pay judgments up to $250,000. Federal bankruptcy law creates a loophole in which physicians instead can file for bankruptcy and avoid paying victimized patients. So, Florida patients have been left paying for uninsured doctors’ errors.
Patients left to pay for uninsured doctors’ mistakes
USA Today described cases of victims suffering:
- Punctured bowels
- Abdominal incisions that broke and resulted in infection
- Bacterial infections
- Panic attacks
- Other emotional damage
A new law was scheduled to take effect this year. It comes in response to plastic surgery gone wrong. The new law authorizes Florida to suspend or restrict a surgery center’s operations. That's if it determines the facility poses an immediate public threat. It also mandates that the center and the doctors meet financial responsibility requirements.
The law prevents centers that have had their registrations revoked from quickly opening another office under a new name with the same owners or directors. That practice had prevented patients from discovering a center’s reputation and history.
Florida has a status as a national destination for discount plastic surgery procedures. That status exists despite cases of plastic surgeons maiming and killing patients, doctors lacking medical malpractice insurance and bankruptcy courts bailing them out.
What to do if plastic surgery goes wrong
Plastic surgery is a huge business. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on collagen and botox injections, breast implants, buttock lifts, and facial procedures.
Over 17.7 million cosmetic procedures were done in the U.S. in 2018, nearly a quarter-million more than in 2017, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The society claims over 7,000 members. They say they comprise over 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the U.S.
Contact Cherundolo Law Firm in Syracuse, New York today for help with plastic surgery gone wrong or any other medical malpractice claim.