A doctor in Ohio practices medicine without Medical Malpractice insurance because he feels that the insurance is both, too expensive, and simply an avenue by which patients bring frivolous claims in pursuit to make themselves rich. According to area attorneys, this doctor has made himself “judgment proof” by placing his assets in a family trust and, therefore, protecting such assets from civil lawsuits. Dr. David Fallang has been involved over 22 lawsuits and still refuses to pay for medical malpractice insurance. Although such conduct by a medical doctor seems to fall far outside of the law, Ohio law currently allows doctors to practice without Medical Malpractice Insurance, subject to some restrictions.
Currently, as a family mourns the loss of a loved one, Dr. Fallang has once again “shielded himself from judgment.”
While malpractice insurance isn’t required, Ohio law mandates that physicians who lack the insurance inform patients in writing and obtain a signed consent form prior to treatment in non-emergency cases.
The Middletown resident admits “I’m not perfect,” but he doesn’t believe any of the cases against him involved actual malpractice. He said the suits were largely manufactured by the “medical malpractice lawsuit industry.”
“I’ve just been squashed by this stuff,” said Fallang, former medical staff president at Middletown Regional Hospital. “And let me tell you, I’m a pretty damn good surgeon.”
Malpractice and the law
Failure to disclose a lack of malpractice insurance isn’t a crime in Ohio, but it’s subject to disciplinary action by the State Medical Board of Ohio. Penalties include a reprimand up to a permanent revocation of the physician’s medical license.
“To be perfectly blunt, I don’t believe that it’s my responsibility to make my patients rich if there should be an adverse occurrence,” Fallang said. “My responsibility is to take the best medical care of them that I know how.”
“No one can do surgery with zero complications, it’s just not physically possible,” he said. “Medical malpractice lawsuits, 95 percent of the time, are about money, they’re not about malpractice.”
This may be difficult, however, for the family of Linda Wilson to understand. Linda Wilson, who was recently a patient of Dr. Fallang’s, suffered catastrophic and fatal complications due to her gastric bypass surgery.
Patrick Wilson can’t remember how much his wife weighed, but said she sought the surgery in 1999 to lose weight and get a handle on her diabetes.
[Linda Wilson] lost around 120 pounds initially, Wilson recalled, but problems soon arose. Fallang said he tried to talk the Wilsons out of a second operation, that it was risky, but he relented.
He said the complication that led to Linda Wilson’s death — a rare, massive blood clot called a hemobezoar that obstructed her bowel — was beyond his control.
“Mr. Wilson never should have sued me,” Fallang said. “It was immoral of him to do so, in my opinion, because I didn’t kill his wife. His wife had a rare and unfortunate complication, one that was not foreseeable. I took prudent steps to try to figure out what was wrong with her.”
It appears that once again, Dr. Fallang’s judgment proof shield has protected him from another major lawsuit.