Florida Supreme Court Interprets “Amendment 7” To Provide Broad Right of Access to Medical Records

Back in 2004, Florida citizens amended the Florida Constitution to include a “right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” This amendment became known as Amendment 7. In a recent Florida medical malpractice case, the state’s Supreme Court issued an opinion discussing the breadth of the amendment and whether common-law privileges held by medical providers can override the reach of Amendment 7.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure that was conducted by the defendant doctor. During the procedure, the plaintiff’s bile duct was severed. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the doctor was negligent in performing the surgery. The plaintiff also named the medical center where the procedure was performed as a defendant.

During pre-trial discovery, the plaintiff requested certain documents from the defendant, including records of other adverse medical events that occurred at the defendant medical center. The defendants objected to the plaintiff’s request for discovery, claiming that several privileges attached to the documents and that therefore they were not subject to the rules of discovery.

The trial court overruled the defendants’ objection, but the defendants continued to refuse to release the information, again citing several common-law privileges and claiming that the medical records did not fall within the scope of discoverable material. Eventually, the defendants asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue.

The Supreme Court’s Opinion

The court wrote a very detailed opinion, discussing the motivations for the passage of Amendment 7. Ultimately, the court concluded that the language of Amendment 7 was intentionally very broad, and it held that this evidenced the citizens’ desire for the courts to broadly interpret the amendment.

As a result, the court held that the materials at issue were within the scope of Amendment 7 and should be released by the defendants. In so holding, the court noted that Amendment 7 abrogates other statutory and common-law privileges that would otherwise prevent such documents from being discoverable. Notably, the court did not hold that Amendment 7 abrogates the attorney-client privilege because that privilege was not implicated in the facts of this case.

Have You Been a Victim of Florida Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured after being provided with negligent or inadequate medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. With this new interpretation of Amendment 7, it is likely that Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs will have more access to information that may help them prove their case. To speak with an attorney about your case, call 877-448-8585 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you get the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Florida’s Recreational Use Statute, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 27, 2017.

Court Upholds Arbitration Agreement in Recent Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 13, 2017.

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