The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that some of the
medical malpractice laws in the state were a direct violation of patient rights pertaining to privacy
and courtroom access. The language that has now been stricken by the Florida
Supreme Court ruling was added by the legislature in 2013 and was biased
in favor of defendants in medical malpractice case. The provisions allowed
defendants, their attorneys, investigators and insurance adjusters to
obtain confidential health information of the plaintiff through secret
interviews of the plaintiff’s healthcare providers. To make matters
more controversial, the interviews did not need to include the plaintiff
or any legal representatives, namely the plaintiff’s attorney, and
was not limited to information relevant to the medical malpractice claim.
The ruling has been heralded by many medical malpractice attorneys throughout
the state as the right decision to restore the constitutional rights of
plaintiffs. Allowing defendants to work in secret to obtain private and
confidential health information belonging to the plaintiff tilted the
scales. Supporters of the now-defunct legislation argued that the defendants
would not access any information that was not pertinent to the ongoing
medical malpractice claim and that it fostered settlements. As cited in
the Florida Supreme Court majority’s 50-page opinion, there is no
indication that the confidentiality of the claimant’s unrelated
medical records would be respected. Indeed, if the defendant was trying
to find any evidence that could reduce liability in the medical malpractice
claim, the entirety of the confidential records would be combed.
Within the Supreme Court opinion, it was also explained that the scouring
of the claimant’s records in a private interview did nothing to
expedite settlement of medical malpractice claims. The language added
in 2013 was originally toted as a way to move claims to a fair settlement
faster by allowing the defendant to understand the potential damages and
its own liability in the medical malpractice incident. Removing or improving
the onerous pre-suit process for medical malpractice claims in Florida
has been an interest for many years in the legal community, and this most
recent ruling marks the first time it has been brought to the spotlight
on the highest level.
Interested in learning more about this Florida Supreme Court ruling? Click here
to read a full article about it, posted by Daily Business Review.
(You may be required to sign into the website.) If you require the assistance
or representation of a Florida medical malpractice attorney for a case
of your own, contact
David C. Rash P.A. and schedule a free initial consultation
with the firm’s highly-experienced, highly-praised attorneys.