Florida Moves to Drastically Limit Injured Patient Rights

The battle to protect the legal rights of medical patients continues on across the country, as certain state legislatures push measures championed by the insurance industry and big medical interests. Make no mistake: we need to be permanently vigilant about preserving the rights of medical patients, because big companies with a stake in taking away legal rights are constantly evaluating ways to minimize plaintiff legal options for their own benefit.

New Med Mal Tort Reform Proposal
The latest attack on the civil justice system comes in Florida, where state lawmakers are pushing to pass a “tort reform” bill that offers a laundry list of unnecessary and downright harmful changes to existing law. The theme of each and every change is limiting the rights of injured patients and making it more and more likely that big medical interest and insurance companies will have virtual immunity from any harm that arises as a result of substandard medical care.

The South Florida Business Journal published a helpful story this week that lays out the specifics of the proposal. The report explains how the measure passed the state Senate’s Rules committee and will now move onto a vote in the full Senate. A similar measure is working its way through the state House. If both measures pass their respective bodies, then some reconciliation will be needed, as the versions of the bills are not identical.

The bill includes a list of harmful proposals. Egregiously, the bill would allow defense attorneys for insurance companies and others to interview doctors who provided subsequent medical services to a plaintiff without notifying the plaintiff or their attorney (known as ex parte communication). It is always standard protocol for these meetings and interviews to be conducted with both sides present and aware. In this way, each side can ensure their interests are presented–it is how the underlying truth is most likely to come out. But this bill would completely flip that principle, and create special rules for defense attorneys in these cases. As this one provision shows clearly, these “tort reform” proposals are about one thing: continually slanting the rules so that defense interests in these cases have an unfair advantage. Principles of fairness, equality, and justice are thrown out the window.

Other provisions of the bill would limit who can testify as an expert for plaintiffs in these cases and limit the privacy rights of patients when defense attorneys demand copies of their medical records.

Fighting for the Rights of Medical Patients
Our medical malpractice attorneys are incredibly proud to fight on the side of private community members in these situations. Time and again the interests of big businesses are prioritized over the reasonable rights of community members. That should never happen, least of all when it comes to ensuring access to justice for patients and families harmed by inadequate medical care.

We encourage all advocates to continue the fight against unnecessary and unfair encroachment on patient rights whenever it strikes, in Illinois, Chicago, or elsewhere in the country.

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