Floridians won another important victory in a series of cases that have arisen since voters overwhelmingly passed Article X, Section 25 of the Florida Constitution, commonly known as Amendment 7. The court held last week in Edwards v. Thomas that Amendment 7 is intended to eliminate all discovery restrictions on any records relating to any adverse medical incident. This case lays to rest many of the arguments about the discoverability of reports of adverse medical incidents. It also makes clear that the people have a constitutional right to see the records generated in response to these adverse medical incidents.
For decades, hospitals and doctors used Florida law to prevent patients from seeing the results of internal investigations into adverse medical incidents, i.e., medical negligence, intentional misconduct or any other act, neglect or default of a health care facility or provider that caused or could have caused an injury to or the death of a patient. Commonly known as the peer-review privilege, this legal barrier to the disclosure of the reports kept Florida’s citizens from being able to fully evaluate their health care providers before selecting them and also prohibited patients, once they became plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, from finding out what went wrong in their own cases.
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