Florida Governor Rick Scott will have the last say on a malpractice bill that has passed in the Florida state senate and house. The bill, Senate Bill 1792, would make considerable changes to the way that patients are able to file for malpractice in that state. The changes the bills bring about have riled opponents. Supporters claim that the bill will make Florida more amicable to physicians and increase patient options.
The Changes in Senate Bill 1792
The changes that the bill entails have some patient advocates alarmed. One provision of the bill allows a physician’s defense team to inquire with other healthcare providers for the patient filing the lawsuit. The bill changes the law so that this is not considered to be a breach of the patient’s privacy, something that advocates are very concerned about. The supporters of the bill say that filing a medical malpractice suit makes inquiring about matters that would have formerly been protected by patient/provider privacy appropriate.
The other provision of the bill creates stricter requirements for experts who testify in malpractice claims. The new legislation would require that experts be practitioners of the exact type of medicine involved in the lawsuit, according to Clinical Advisor. This means that it could be much harder for patients and their attorneys to get experts to testify on their behalf.
The bill is similar to other efforts that have been taken up by other state legislatures. The idea behind the bill is that malpractice claims drive up the cost of healthcare and make states unattractive places for doctors to practice. In Texas, where a similar set of changes has been put into effect, has shown that the effects – attracting more doctors, lowering the cost of healthcare, etc. – have not manifested in the wake of that state’s legislation.
What This Means For Attorneys
Malpractice claims oftentimes hinge on expert testimony. Changes to the law brought about by this bill may make it very hard for attorneys to find experts who qualify to testify in their cases, making it harder for plaintiffs to pursue their claims. The bill is backed by the Florida Medical Association. Support for the bill was largely along party lines, with Republicans backing the bill and Democratic representatives opposing it. Some Republicans, however, did express concern over the bill, particularly with those parts that allow the defense counsel to access formerly private medical information to support their defense of their clients.