Florida Hospitals Ignore Voter-Approved Law Requiring Disclosure of “Adverse Incidents”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
(graphic: sunshineweek.org
Voters in Florida overwhelmingly (81% to 19%) approved a constitutional amendment seven years ago that gave victims of medical malpractice the authority to see reports on their own case or on other mistakes made by the same doctors who had treated them. The Florida Supreme Court gave its support to the law in 2008.
The main point of the Patients’ Right to Know Amendment was to give individuals more power in court when going after physicians. But hospitals have consistently stonewalled patients from obtaining the records and, in some instances, charged exorbitant fees to process copy requests. One patient was told it would cost him more than $77,000 to receive the documents requested.
Florida hospitals have used a variety of creative arguments in their refusals, such as claiming that their method of record-keeping is inconsistent with the allegedly vague wording of the constitutional amendment or that they retain exclusive rights to adverse incident reports.
Shelisha Coleman, speaking on behalf of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, told the Broward Bulldog that the agency “does not have the ability to regulate or make a facility follow Florida’s Constitution.”
A minority of hospitals, such as the North Shore Medical Center/FMC Campus in Lauderdale Lakes, have had no problem complying with the law.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff

Ignoring Patients’ Right To Know (CBS Miami) 


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