Fla. high court ruling could impact doctors going bare

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 17, 2006

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The Florida Supreme Court in March agreed to hear a case that could hold hospitals financially responsible for the negligence of staff physicians who don't have medical liability coverage, a practice commonly referred to as "going bare."

An appeals court ruled Florida's physician responsibility statute did not allow the plaintiffs to recover a $250,000 judgment from Plantation General Hospital after one of its uninsured staff doctors, Stuart Horowitz, MD, left the country and failed to pay an $859,000 verdict against him.

The high court took the case because the ruling conflicts with three other appellate court precedents holding hospitals liable under the state law. Florida physicians are not required to carry medical liability insurance, but privileged doctors must prove a minimum of $250,000 in financial responsibility under the statute.

Facing some of the highest insurance rates in the country, Florida physicians are concerned hospitals will force them to carry medical liability coverage if the high court shifts some of the burden onto hospitals, according to the Florida Medical Assn.

A friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Florida Hospital Assn. argues that the statute does not put hospitals in charge of enforcing the act. Trial lawyers say the statute was intended to provide minimum protection to injured patients and that hospitals are obligated to police their staffs.

At press time, no date was set for oral arguments.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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