A new law in Florida has changed some of the procedures and rules regarding medical malpractice cases and as a result, may intrude on patient’s privacy rights. The new law gives lawyers who represent doctors accused of malpractice the right to interview any other doctors who treated the patient outside the presence of the patient and without the patient’s knowledge and consent. This is a change as defense attorneys used to only be able to talk to the patient’s other doctors as part of formal proceedings with the patient’s attorney present, which ensured the patient’s legal and privacy rights were protected. A number of plaintiff's attorneys are challenging the law based on a couple arguments. The law is being challenged because it violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protect privacy rights and also on the grounds that only the Florida Supreme Court has the right to establish rules of procedure regarding lawsuits, not the legislature.
Defense attorneys argue that by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the patient is putting their medical condition and medical history at issue and those patients should expect to lose certain privacy rights by doing so. They also argue that as defense attorneys they are entitled to certain information regardless of the new law and that the new law will only help insurance companies evaluate their cases sooner and deciding whether they should settle or take the case to trial. Ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court may have to decide this issue. Similar challenges to the law are also being made in some Federal Courts in Florida. If you’ve been injured in accident or suffered an injury due to some form of medical malpractice, call Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation and discussion regarding your rights and options moving forward.