That's all the time we have today! For more check out our latest investigation:

I'm Maria Perez, and I’ve been covering issues affecting immigrant and minority communities since 2013 first in Florida and now in Wisconsin, as part of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative team. I have investigated Florida companies that profited from undocumented workers and, once they were injured, reported them to prosecutors instead of paying workers compensation. I've written about U.S. farms that recruit Mexican veterinarians with offers of professional work but then they put them to work milking and cleaning barns for low pay. I have also been reporting on Florida cosmetic surgery clinics that left dozens of patients death or injured. Most of the deaths were of Hispanic and African American women.

I'm Marisa Kwiatkowski, and I’ve been handling investigations for more than a decade, most recently as part of USA TODAY's national investigative team. Much of my work has been focused on issues affecting children and vulnerable adults.

Our most recent USA TODAY investigation examined the prevalence and impact of a Florida law that allows doctors to opt out of carrying medical malpractice insurance. Maria and I would love to share how we and our colleagues did it.

Link to our latest investigation:


Comments: 371 • Responses: 6  • Date: 

usatoday208 karma

Hi u/kriyabutterfly, thank you for your question. If doctors committed medical malpractice, they are still liable for the injury costs. But what we found is that if a doctor lacks medical malpractice insurance, few attorneys will take the malpractice case against the doctor because it will be more difficult to collect. And even if an attorney takes the case and manages to get a judgment in favor of the patient, the doctor can file for bankruptcy and the patient may get a very small sum. --Maria

kriyabutterfly54 karma

Oh my. What do you suggest consumers do to avoid problems? And are some specialties more prime to declining malpractice mustangs than others?

usatoday62 karma

It's also important to know that there may have been complaints against a doctor that don't show up in the website of the state medical board or department of health. Typically, only the complaints for which the state agencies find probable cause are posted in their sites. If you are choosing a cosmetic surgeon, we wrote an article with a few of the things that you should know before going into the surgery room: Much of what we wrote there also applies to other types of doctors. -- Maria

Gfrisse119 karma

Yes. Some specialties are more prone to claims than others, with thoracic-cardiovascular and general surgery leading the pack.

usatoday27 karma

Thank you for sharing this link. Our investigation found that plastic surgery, neurological surgery and obstetrics and gynecology were the specialties with the highest percentages of Florida doctors who chose not to carry medical malpractice insurance. However that analysis only counts doctors with board certification in those areas. For example, it doesn't count doctors who perform cosmetic surgery but aren't board-certified to do so. — Marisa

usatoday13 karma

State medical boards or health agencies usually have information online about whether the doctor carries malpractice insurance or not --in addition to information about whether they are board-certified, if they have any disciplinary history, etc. For Florida, this is the website: You can check there, but you should ask the doctor directly too. We found a few cases in which the doctors didn't carry insurance but their profiles on the Florida site said they did. In Florida, doctors need to notify the patient they don't carry malpractice insurance, but that notification can be in a document in the middle of a stack of other dozen documents that you may have to sign. So you may not realize what it says. The safest is to ask your doctor and to read carefully every document that you sign. --Maria

Chtorrr10 karma

What is the craziest thing you have found in your research?

usatoday14 karma

Good question. And a tough one to answer. For me, until we started our investigation, I didn't know it was possible for doctors to elect not to carry medical malpractice insurance. Nearly 6,900 Florida doctors don't do so, according to our analysis. — Marisa

BurgerPleaseYT8 karma

Sounds like a lot of work which means you travel a lot. I am interested to know something and I'm sure you have gone to various restaurants or burger joints, what's your favorite burger joint?

usatoday8 karma

Our work does necessitate a fair amount of travel. I don't have one favorite place, but I prefer to go to local restaurants, rather than chains. Any recommendations for particular places I should check out? — Marisa