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 Rash Mueller. and schedule a free initial consultation with the firm’s highly-experienced, highly-praised attorneys.