“You are constitutionally allowed to know about your doctor or hospital’s track record”
Florida citizens have a constitutional right to know about their doctor or Hospital’s track record of adverse medical incidents. This has not always been the case. In fact, prior to November 2, 2004, healthcare providers and hospitals had the right to keep these adverse incidents confidential and resisted the disclosure of such information.
However, on November 2, 2004, Florida conducted an election and contained on that ballot was a constitutional amendment that was titled “Patients’ right to know about adverse medical incidents.” This ballot initiative constitutional amendment was passed by Florida voters and became Article X, Section 25 of the Florida Constitution.
THIS PROVISION IS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS “AMENDMENT 7”.
Amendment 7 allows for patients to have the right to access any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident. The purpose of the Amendment was to provide a means to allow patients to know more about their doctor or the facility that they are considering treatment.
Adverse Medical Incident
The phrase “adverse medical incident” is defined in this statute to not only include negligent acts but also any act that could cause injury or death of a patient. As you can see from the use of the words “any act” this Amendment was intended to allow patients to have wide latitude in the availability of documents from the facility or the provider.
The purpose of the expansive wording was to permit patients to access any possible information about the facility or provider that could be used to make decisions concerning treatment. Informed decisions necessarily involve a cost-benefit analysis. This type of evaluation requires that a patient have information about the adverse results of a procedure or from a particular provider.
Hospitals Challenge the Amendment
Hospitals have not welcomed this Amendment with open arms. This is an understatement. Hospitals have done everything in their power to challenge this amendment.
First, they chose to challenge the law based upon constitutional challenges, then they argued that it violated their rights to keep this information private. They continue to argue that the information violates work product privileges and lawyer-client privileges.
Even though Amendment 7 was intended to be used by “patients”, the reality is that even experienced medical malpractice lawyers are having to fight extended legal battles to enforce the provisions of this law. It would appear that hospitals are quite reluctant to provide the information to patients voluntarily even though this is now a constitutional right of each Floridian.
As part of each medical malpractice case, Zarzaur Law, P.A. requests Amendment 7 information on behalf of our clients. This information usually requires a hearing before a judge who will hear the common objections made by the hospital lawyers and then rule. Many local hospitals hire law firms devoted to fighting Amendment 7 issues. So, they will have a law firm hired to defend the medical malpractice case and then have a law firm hired to represent them in the Amendment 7 document requests.
HOSPITALS AND PROVIDERS DO NOT WANT TO GIVE THIS INFORMATION UP, BUT THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION NOW REQUIRES IT.
If you have a medical malpractice case or if you have the need for Amendment 7 information for your own personal healthcare decisions, please feel free to contact our firm online at ZarzaurLaw.com or call us at 855HIREJOE.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.