So many major news stories occurred in 2017 that the news of Florida Supreme Court’s major medical malpractice decision may have gone unnoticed. However, the Florida Supreme Court has made a series of decisions since the summer that offer significant benefits to patients in medical malpractice lawsuits. The shift kicked off with the North Broward Hospital District v. Kaitlin case, which determined that noneconomic damage caps are unconstitutional. A few months later, the Edwards v. Thomas case resulted in a Florida Supreme Court ruling that has even more significance than Kaitlyn.
The Edwards case is not as flashy, but it is arguably more important since it deals with Amendment 7 discovery. The Constitution of the state of Florida uses Amendment 7 to grant patients the right to access all medically adverse incident reports of the health care providers and facilities that complete their treatments. It was created to give patients the choice and ability to become fully informed of any medical provider’s past acts of negligence before committing to using them for medical care. “
Amendment 7 states specifically, “in addition to any other similar rights provided herein or by general law, patients have a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a healthcare facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” Despite this, medical providers in Florida have long enjoyed heavy protections from negligence actions based on limitations patients faced to obtain specific documents. Injured patients have always been restricted in their efforts to secure the documents needed to prove their cases and support the compensation they need to recover.
Fortunately for patients in medical malpractice cases, the Edwards decision gives patients newfound freedom with Amendment 7. Edwards was a plaintiff-patient who requested external peer review reports which contained performance reviews and assessments of physicians by their peers. Edwards believed the documents should be considered under the umbrella of adverse medical incidents, but the defendant objected. The Florida Supreme court sided with Edwards and noted, “the language in Amendment 7 contains no limitation on the types of adverse medical incident reports that are now discoverable.”
As a result, medical providers have lost the ability to hide from patients and their attorneys anything that could be critical evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you are facing a medical malpractice lawsuit of your own, be sure to work with an attorney with a proven track record and a comprehensive understanding of the ever-changing legal system. Call 1-800-253-5523 now to schedule a free consultation at Catania and Catania Attorneys at Law. The Catania team has been serving the Tampa, Florida area with commitment and expertise for more than 25 years, so you can trust them to help you win your case!