I am a Florida med-mal lawyer, and I don’t really get it either. But Florida law basically views most surgeons as “independent contractors” . In other words, if one gets surgery in a hospital, and the surgeon makes a mistake, it is not the hospital’s legal responsibility.
The Florida Third District Court of Appeal erased any doubt in its decision this week in Quesada v. Mercy Hospital. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that even a hospital’s consent form is not (without more) a representation that the doctor is an agent of the hospital. Enter: Summary Judgment in favor of Mercy Hospital.
What is the importance of this for Florida’s patients? A lot when you consider that most doctors are operating without medical malpractice insurance and hide behind the damage caps found in the Florida Statutes. This is another huge legal victory for hospitals and doctors across Florida and another slap in the face of injured patients.
Next time you are in the hospital and if you have the time and are conscious; consider asking the following:
1. Is the surgeon an employee of the hospital?
2. Are you “relying” on the representation in selecting that doctor?
3. Are you making your choice based upon that representation?
This can be even more confusing when you look at Mercy’s website where it has a directory listing “their doctors”.
In the meantime, I hope that our doctors are insured and careful, because Florida law will not help us.