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Medical ethics expert reacts to I-Team investigation into Florida doctors with multiple malpractices

Expert: Multiple suits show a pattern of conduct
Posted: 6:48 PM, May 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-22 22:48:49Z
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This week, the ABC Action News exposed how hundreds of Florida doctors are still treating patients after multiple malpractice settlements.

Now, a medical ethics expert is weighing in on our findings.

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U.S.F. Healthcare Professor Katherine Drabiak, who trains future doctors, says it’s important for patients to be able to trust their doctors.

“When we look at going to see our physicians, we expect that they're providing us quality care,” she said.

Earlier this week, the I-Team uncovered at least 120 Florida doctors racked up three or more malpractice claims over the past decade.

Many are still practicing, even though voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 to revoke a doctor's licenses after three malpractice convictions.

“It could have gotten rid of a lot of physicians that were making mistakes, particularly egregious mistakes,” Drabiak said.

But the I-Team has uncovered only two doctors lost their license under the so-called three strikes law, because most cases are settled before trial.

“When there's multiple malpractice suits over and over again, that start to show a pattern of conduct,” Drabiak said.

She says a malpractice suit alone doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on a doctor. Statistics show nearly 99 percent of physicians in certain high-risk specialties will likely be sued at least once in their careers.

But Drabiak says the multiple suits among doctors who don’t practice high-risk medicine might be red flags.

The I-Team also found a complaint against a local doctor led the state to open an investigation into Palms of Pasadena Hospital .

Investigators found the hospital placed patients in "ongoing, immediate jeopardy.” Providing "no evidence... of the competence to provide quality medical care..." for its 466 doctors and staff.

“Who is it they're hiring to make sure that this person is not only qualified, but is providing effective and safe care for their patients who are coming in to their facility?” Drabiak said. “The patient is potentially at risk.”

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com.