Most Florida doctors are justifiably concerned about a medical malpractice suit. Florida ranks 8th in the nation for the number of claims filed (approximately 780 per year), and common vulnerabilities in the diagnostic process leave you open to claims of inappropriate diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
Fortunately, more than half of all medical malpractice claims are dropped, dismissed or withdrawn. However, the damage to your practice, income, and career can still be considerable, given that all allegations of malpractice can result in a complaint being filed and investigated by the Florida Department of Health. In addition, a disgruntled patient can very easily file a Board complaint against you, even if it is unfounded or insignificant.
Complaints and their subsequent investigation by the Department of Health must be taken seriously, for they can lead to disciplinary action against your medical license. Presenting a thorough defense to the Department early in the process is, therefore, vital for your career and future. Attorney Jonathan Rose has the experience and skill as a defense and healthcare attorney you need to successfully defend your medical license and protect your future.
Reasons for Inappropriate Medical Diagnoses
It is no surprise that misdiagnoses are the most common cause of medical malpractice claims and complaints, since the diagnostic process is open to numerous vulnerabilities, from the initial patient visit through testing and treatment. Researchers report many reasons for diagnostic errors, including:
- Doctors have limited time to spend with patients, making it difficult to assess their symptoms correctly or fully.
- Patients might not present doctors with a complete medical history and detailed list of symptoms.
- Doctors get interrupted frequently, making it difficult to carefully consider all the details of a patient’s case.
- Doctors might order the wrong diagnostic screening tests.
- Medical facilities might not have the equipment and assessment capabilities doctors need to make an appropriate diagnosis.
- Doctors can misinterpret the results of tests.
- Busy physicians might not follow up with patients to see if their symptoms have subsided.
Doctors who work in urgent care centers, outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and other areas of a hospital are especially susceptible to vulnerabilities in the diagnostic process, since they do not have an ongoing professional relationship with their patients. Although electronic medical records can help compensate for this, the records can be incomplete or difficult to access, and doctors in these environments might still have difficulty recognizing changes in a patient’s health
What to Do If an Inappropriate Diagnosis Complaint Is Filed Against You
If you receive a complaint letter, you need to respond. An informed, detailed response is essential at this point to rebut the complainant’s position and hopefully lead to closing the case. An experienced medical license defense attorney knows what the Board is looking for and can help you prepare an effective response.
If the complainant’s allegations suggest that a violation of Florida’s Medical Practice Act may have occurred, the Department of Health’s Investigative Services Unit will investigate. However, working with your attorney to prepare supporting information to show that a violation did not occur could help you get the case closed.
Cases that are not closed are ultimately decided by a Probable Cause Panel (PCP) composed of 2 or 3 board members, 1 or 2 licensed physicians, and a consumer member. If probable cause is found, the Formal Administrative Complaint process begins and the case becomes public. If probable cause is not found, the case remains confidential.
When an Administrative Complaint is filed, you must determine if you’re going to challenge the complaint at a formal hearing, negotiate a settlement, or attempt to mitigate the disciplinary action at an informal hearing. In any case, discipline for Administrative Complaints can be very serious, including, a fine, required continuing education, probation, restriction of your practice, suspension of your license, and revocation of your license.
With the stakes so high in Administrative Complaint cases, it’s important to understand the potential consequences and act accordingly to protect your career and your future. Having a skilled medical license defense attorney advocating for you is definitely in your best interest. It can make the difference between receiving no disciplinary action whatsoever and suspension or revocation of your license.
Get Help from an Experienced Florida Medical License Defense Attorney
There are many skilled defense attorneys throughout Florida, but for an Administrative Complaint that could affect your ability to practice medicine, you need an experienced medical license defense attorney. Attorney Jonathan Rose has the experience in healthcare and criminal defense law and record of success you need to protect your career in medicine.
Jonathan Rose has over twenty years of experience in state and federal courts. He has helped many doctors challenge administrative complaints, license suspensions, and criminal charges and has the expertise to help protect your medical license, career, and future. For sound advice on how to proceed when an Administrative Complaint is filed against you and a strong defense to protect your future, call today at 407-894-4555 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website.
Belk, D. (2020). Malpractice statistics. True cost of health-care.
Florida Department of Health. (2019). Enforcement.
Hanscom, R. Small, M., & Lambrecht, A. (13 March 2018). Diagnostic accuracy: Room for improvement.