Florida has become a medical tourism hotspot, adding $6 billion to the state economy every year. It sounds like a boon for the state, but there is a dark side. A lack of consumer protections have led to an alarming situation where patients are suffering injuries, or even dying, after what are considered routine cosmetic procedures. A lack of medical malpractice insurance requirements, poor oversight by the state, and unscrupulous providers have led the Florida State legislature to enact a new law that closes loopholes and makes cosmetic surgery in Florida safer – and it is long overdue, according to our medical malpractice attorney, Andres Beregovich:
“Clinics have been getting away with murder. We use a violation of statute 766.110—the liability of healthcare facilities – in almost every single lawsuit for medical malpractice because it says that healthcare facilities are liable to their patients to do things like carefully select medical staff, write out hiring procedures, and maintain safety policies. Most healthcare facilities are not in compliance with the law and are not meeting minimum requirements, and most doctors at these clinics aren’t carrying medical malpractice insurance, knowing that lawyers won’t want to prosecute cases against those without it. The doctors and the clinics act in concert with each other and conspire, in my opinion, to limit their liability as much as possible.”
New Law Offers Better Consumer Protections
The new law is supposed to improve consumer protection by closing some of the loopholes that have made cosmetic surgery in the state unsafe. For the first time ever, the state will be able to discipline office facilities, owners, and operators (in addition to physicians) who are found to be in violation of office surgery rules. Doctors can lose their license immediately if a patient dies or is injured. Doctors who operate clinics must register with the Department of Health and undergo annual inspections and will be prevented from opening new facilities or clinics if their previous clinic was closed due to malpractice. If a clinic is shut down for violations, the doctor won’t be able to open a new clinic for 5 years.
Although we are pleased to see the state take some action against these dangerous providers, more could be done to protect consumers.
“One thing the statute doesn’t do is mandate that both the surgery centers and the surgeons carry malpractice insurance. Without that, there’s no way to cover the loss for a patient who died or was critically injured. The new law is great because it brings awareness and increases penalties so that maybe some of these doctors will adhere to stricter compliance, but it doesn’t immediately help the injured patient,” says Andres Beregovich.
Representing Injured Patients
The Beregovich Law Firm has represented several clients who have been injured during a cosmetic surgery procedure gone wrong. This is in stark contrast to tort attorneys who won’t take the cases because there is little chance of recovering damages thanks to the lack of malpractice insurance requirements.
Andres explains, “It’s not about the monetary awards. It’s about this entire situation being wrong and being dangerous for patients. These doctors and clinics have chosen not to carry malpractice insurance as a way to avoid liability because they know the chances of being sued without that insurance protection are very low. That’s not right.”
If you have been injured during a cosmetic procedure and would like The Beregovich Law Firm to examine your situation to see if you have a case, call (800) 631-9009 or schedule a free consultation online.
Photo by: New Legislation Aims To Protect Patients From Uninsured Plastic Surgeons