Tampa HMO Malpractice Lawyer
Health Maintenance Organizations, or HMOs, were first created in 1973 and have continued to grow ever since. Today, total HMO enrollment in the state of Florida is nearly six million, making Florida the third highest-ranking state in the country in terms of HMO enrollment. An HMO is designed to provide prepaid, comprehensive health coverage for doctor and hospital services using specified providers on a fixed rate structure. At their best, HMOs allow their members to access doctors and hospitals for all of their health needs. However, the restrictive, controlling nature of HMOs and their focus on controlling costs have led some people to criticize them for not providing adequate care. When HMO decisions lead to real-life negative consequences for patient health, the Tampa HMO malpractice lawyers at The Palmer Law Firm investigate whether the HMO should be held accountable to the patient for the harm that has resulted.
How do HMOs Commit Malpractice?
HMOs act as gatekeepers to health care access; they stand between patients and medical care, directing where patients go for medical care, whom they see, what tests they get, and what medication they receive. A conflict quickly arises in this scenario between the HMO’s goal of providing adequate health to its members and its goal of controlling medical costs. HMO decisions can have a strong negative impact on patient health. For instance, a patient may forgo a test that isn’t covered, or may not be referred to a specialist in borderline cases. These decisions may allow a serious health condition to go undiagnosed and untreated until it has progressed to a stage where it is causes serious harm or may even be terminal. Had the illness been caught earlier, however, the serious health consequences may have been averted. When concerns for cost containment trump what is best for patient health, it is possible that HMOs may be liable for the harm caused by their decision-making.
Another question arises when a patient is harmed by the negligence of the doctor selected by the HMO to treat the patient. Hospitals are held liable for the medical mistakes made by their employees. Can HMOs be held liable for mistakes made by the doctors with whom they contract? The answer to this question is a complicated legal issue involving complex federal laws such as ERISA. It seems likely, however, that an HMO must be held to a certain standard in its screening and selection process and could be held liable for negligently contracting with an incompetent or otherwise unqualified doctor, nurse or other health care provider.
Speak with Tampa’s Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys about HMO Malpractice
If you believe your HMO has made decisions which negatively impacted your health care, talk to an experienced Tampa HMO malpractice lawyer about any potential claim you may have against the HMO. In Tampa, call The Palmer Law Firm at 813-506-5651 for a free consultation.