Consent Clauses & Medical Malpractice

11/17/2008 | Medical Malpractice

Most medical malpractice policies have "consent clauses." This gives the doctor the right to object to the insurance company settling a claim for malpractice. The first question you might ask is "Why would a doctor not want the insurance company to settle?" This is really a complicated issue, but at the end of the day it comes down to the fact anytime a doctor (actually his insurance company) pays to settle a medical malpractice claim, it is reported to the National Practioner Data Bank. This databank tracks a doctor's history and hospitals use it in making decisions to grant or deny privileges or credentials. Insurance companies also use it to establish a doctor's malpractice rates. Needless to say, doctor's don't want to have to report any successful malpractice lawsuits. They always want them defended. This makes settling a medical malpractice case extremely difficult becuase doctors refuse to give consent even when the liability is clear and damages are catastrophic. Now, settling a medical malpractice case may become even more difficult since a Florida doctor has sued his own insurance company for settling a malpractice claim without his consent. Dr. Anthony Rodgers has sued Chicago Insurance Company for settling a 2002 lawsuit against him. Originally, the court dismissed the case saying he did not have the right to sue his insurance company for paying the claim; however, a Florida court of appeals reversed the dismissal and sent the case back to the trial court. This should be interesting. A doctor purchases insurance to protect him in the event he is sued, and when they act in his best interest by settling a medical malpractice lawsuit, he turns around and sues them for it. Incredible.

Hans Poppe