As a South Florida medical malpractice attorney, I consider the case of Ancel Pratt, Jr. an important example of the need to hold volunteer team doctors to the same standard of care on the field as in the hospital. Florida has a complex medical malpractice statute which provides often insurmountable obstacles to injured patients and their families to obtain justice.
Florida Statute Section §768.135 is specifically carved out to provide additional immunity for doctors who are serving as volunteer team physicians. The statute is intended to apply when the doctor is volunteering his services at an athletic event sponsored by a public or private elementary school and who agrees to render emergency care to a participant provided that the care is reasonable.
The danger of this statute is that it encourages doctors who are not necessarily competent or experienced in providing emergency trauma services with a layer of protection in volunteering for the local soccer team. As a Miami medical malpractice lawyer and a father, this law concerns me. I do not want to see a soccer mom who is a radiologist or plastic surgeon get drawn into volunteering as the team’s doctor, and end up providing negligent care and be immune from liability.
Florida law should not allow doctors to serve as volunteer team physicians unless they are qualified emergency room or trauma specialists.