In Florida, primary care physicians, specialists and other health care professionals can opt out of medical malpractice insurance coverage in a practice known as “going bare.” Going bare allows doctors to avoid paying high insurance deductibles and monthly or annual premiums, but without adequate legal support, it can be a risky decision, especially in today’s increasingly litigious society.
As Steven Lubell, Esq., partner with Florida law firm Lubell Rosen, said in describing the recent situation of an uninsured client, “Uninsured doctors often feel compelled to settle cases, even frivolous cases, in lieu of paying exorbitant defense fees.” This fear is a reality for many of Florida’s uninsured physicians, but in Dr. Marc Golden's case, Lubell and his team were able to provide an affordable, quality defense.
Dr. Golden, a leading orthopedic surgeon in Boca Raton, Florida, does not carry medical malpractice insurance coverage. He worked with the medical malpractice defense attorneys at Lubell Rosen after his patient, Efraim Kamy, brought a lawsuit against him. Kamy claimed that Dr. Golden had failed to diagnose an infection in his left knee, which led to surgery and the eventual loss of use of his entire leg.
For a period of four months in 2003, Dr. Golden treated Kamy for complications in his left knee. During that time, Dr. Golden ordered five lab cultures, four of which came back with negative results. One test revealed a small growth of staphylococcus lugdunensis (known as “Staph L”). However, Dr. Golden never received the positive culture results, but rather only the four negative tests. Based on this information, the surgeon did not believe Kamy had an infection, and performed a total knee replacement surgery in May of that year.
Following his knee surgery, Kamy moved to Israel, and it was there where he was first diagnosed with a knee infection by doctors. A lab test of a sample of Kamy’s knee came back positive for staphylococcus epidermis, or Staph E. As a result of this infection, the Israeli doctors had to remove Kamy’s prosthesis and perform knee fusion surgery. During the surgery, the doctors inserted a rod into Kamy’s leg to save the appendage – a move that Kamy claims cost him the full use of his left leg, which he can no longer bend.
In 2006, Kamy brought a lawsuit against Dr. Golden for medical malpractice. He asked for damages to cover his medical expenses in Israel, the loss of his leg’s functions and his inability to live normally, and for his pain and suffering. At trial, Lubell presented expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon and an infectious disease specialist. Both doctors agreed that the Staph L finding was not a true infection, and could not have had an adverse impact on Kamy’s knee replacement surgery in Florida. The Staph E, found later, was an unrelated infection.
What It All Means
As Lubell stated, the verdict in this case “brought vindication to Dr. Golden, who maintained his innocence from the start.” Because Dr. Golden does not retain medical malpractice insurance, Lubell Rosen’s services were crucial in preserving his lack of negligence in this case. The firm’s medical malpractice defense attorneys aim to represent doctors in Florida who are facing legal complications without crushing them under a privately-funded defense.