Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 27, 2017 – The Florida Supreme Court issued an important ruling in a medical malpractice case, deciding that a 2004 constitutional amendment requires a hospital to provide medical records to a patient’s family.
The family of Marie Charles had filed the lawsuit against Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc., doing business as Baptist Medical Center, alleging that negligence on the part of the medical provider caused her to suffer a serious neurological injury. The hospital system had argued that it should not have to turn over all documents, because the 2004 federal law provides confidentiality to hospitals that voluntarily submit information about medical errors. The state Supreme Court held that the federal law does not preempt state requirements on the disclosure of medical information.
“This is an important ruling for patients,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa medical malpractice attorney with Joyce & Reyes. “When patients are injured by medical mistakes, they must have access to their records in order to obtain fair compensation for the harm they have suffered.”
In a 5-2 decision, the state Supreme Court overturned the 1st District Court of Appeal’s ruling that the Jacksonville hospital was shielded by a patient-safety law from being required to turn over documents in the medical malpractice case. The ruling concerned Amendment 7, a ballot initiative approved by voters, with the purpose of expanding patients’ access to medical records.
The majority opinion by Justice Barbara Pariente stated that Congress intended the federal patient safety act to improve health care, not shield providers from their responsibilities under Amendment 7. The opinion was joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, justices Peggy Quince and R. Fred Lewis and Senior Justice James E.C. Perry.
The parties had filed a stipulation of dismissal the day before oral arguments, but the Court rejected it, stating that it could not let the 1st District holding stand, since it held that part of the state constitution was invalid.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
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