The Neurosurgeon's of Palm Beach County
The public needs to know the impact of the proposed Florida Amendment 8 on the specialty of neurosurgery in the county. This proposed amendment titled “Public Protection from Repeated Malpractice “ prohibits medical doctors who have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice from being licensed to practice medicine in Florida.
In the past 25 years, 26 physicians have provided the majority of neurosurgery care in Palm Beach County.
According to data derived from the “Professional Liability Closed Claims” database maintained by the State of Florida, there have been 75 malpractice claims lost by this group. This database does not monitor claims won by the physician or claims that are in progress.
22 of the 26 neurosurgeons in the county appear in this closed liability claims database.
The first neurosurgeon to practice in Palm Beach County had no recorded claims in the database. Several of the newer arrivals in the county show no closed claims to date. but pending claims are unknown.
The range of closed claims with payment for county neurosurgeons is 0 to 15 claims per physician with an average of 2.9 closed claims per physician.
Since previous studies by the Physician Insurers Association of America have shown physicians win about 4 out of 5 malpractice claims, an estimate of the total number of malpractice claims defended by these physicians would be over 400 (5 times 75.).
Neurosurgeons in our county appear to accumulate a malpractice claim at the rate of one every one to two years and lose a claim about every 4 or 5 years. Because this data is not tracked by the State, these numbers are estimates.
Of the original group of 26 neurosurgeons, 2 are deceased, 2 are retired, 4 have only limited practices, and 7 are known to have left the area following the trend for many neurosurgeons to leave the county after only a few years of practice.
The total payment for the 75 closed claims was $21,010,207. The average claim was $280,136. The largest claim was $2,500,000. .
The dates of occurrence of these claims range from 12/24/74 to 11/14/2001. The dates of settlement range from 7/8/77 to 11/21/2003. The interval from occurrence to settlement ranges from 0.9 to 10. 4 years with an average of 4.5 years.
The data clearly shows that the practice of neurosurgery in our county will become severely limited as long as the existing medical liability system remains intact.
1. Florida Department of Financial Services, Professional Liability Closed Claims, Web Address: http://www.fldfs.com/Data/Liability/disclaimer.htm
2. Physician Insurers Association of America, Web Address: http://www.thepiaa.org/public_home.asp