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Florida could see significant doctor shortage in years to come

All Floridians hope they can acquire excellent medical care when needed. They want, and rightly expect, their doctors and nurses to be readily available, adequately educated, and thoroughly trained. If these elements are met, then patients may receive excellent care that leaves them better off. Sometimes, though, errors occur that can leave a patient hurt. These incidences can happen when doctors and nurses are tired, inattentive, inexperienced, uneducated, or have poor decision-making skills. Unfortunately, Florida may be seeing more of these errors in the future.

According to a recently released study, Florida is projected to see a significant doctor shortage in the coming years. In fact, it is estimated that the state will be 7,000 doctors short of demand by 2025 unless the number of residency programs is increased. The shortages will be seen mostly in the fields of psychiatry, general surgery, rheumatology, thoracic surgery, and oncology. Experts attribute potential shortages to increased insurance coverage caused by the Affordable Care Act and an aging medical professional population. Though the state is trying to find ways to remedy the problem, there is no definitive answer yet.

A doctor shortage could spell trouble for Florida's patients. Not only could wait times increase, but patients may be seen by doctors who are overworked and stressed. This means the rate of error could increase, leading to misdiagnosis, wrong diagnosis, medication mix ups, and surgical errors. Victims could be left with serious physical, emotional, and financial losses.

Those who have been harmed by medical malpractice have legal rights. By acting on them, a victim may be able to recover compensation to help alleviate his or her damages. Additionally, a successful lawsuit may shine a light on hospital negligence, perhaps driving the changes needed to help keep other Floridians safe.

Source: News-Press, "Florida hospital study warns of doctor shortage," Frank Gluck, Feb. 18, 2015

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