Hospital Rules On Insurance

By CAROL GENTRY The Tampa Tribune

Town & Country Hospital can oust doctors from its medical staff who refuse to buy malpractice insurance, a judge decided Friday.

Plastic surgeon Charles A. McLaughlin Jr., who testified that buying insurance violates his “philosophy of practice,” sued the hospital this week to block enforcement of the change in medical staff requirements. Friday’s hearing came on his request for an injunction to block the hospital from removing him and two others, who were not named.

Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Richard A. Nielsen denied the request from the bench without elaboration. The order is expected to be entered next week.

McLaughlin, who was performing surgery at an outpatient center when the judge issued his ruling, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear how it will affect his practice. He testified that he needs privileges at an acute-care hospital capable of handling emergencies and fragile patients and that he has no privileges at other acute-care hospitals.

Florida law allows physicians to self-insure by showing proof they could cover a judgment of up to $250,000 within 30 days and by notifying patients in writing that they have no malpractice coverage.

McLaughlin was one of about 15 physicians who dropped their policies in November 2005 when the Town & Country governing board amended its bylaws to allow it. The board reversed that in December, Chairman Michael Nolan testified, at the request of the hospital’s parent company, Iasis Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn.
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