Florida patients may be surprised to learn that, according to a New Jersey court, doctors in the Garden State are not required to inform their patients they lack medical malpractice insurance. A man had sued a surgeon due to improperly placed screws in his foot. On Sept. 29, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the lack of insurance was a matter for discipline by the state medical board and not for a lawsuit. The court also ruled that medical facilities were required to do due diligence to check a physician's insurance or lack of credit and could be sued if they did not.
The man had already been awarded $750,000 by a lower court on the basis of medical negligence, but he had sought an additional sum on appeal. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's ruling that the facility where the surgical procedure took place could not be sued for allowing an uninsured doctor to work there. However, according to state law, doctors who do not have either malpractice insurance or a line of credit in the amount of $500,000 to cover any potential liability may receive civil penalties and disciplinary action from the state medical board.