789 SW Federal Highway
Suite 201, Stuart, FL, 32994


    Law Updates

    Florida Medical Malpractice Cases Impacted by U.S. Supreme Court

    fastening seatbelt

    When it comes to personal injury
    cases, medical malpractice is one of the most sensitive subjects. It’s easy to
    understand why – hospitals and medical practices, in general, want to protect
    their practitioners against lawsuits from patients or patients’ families that
    are seeking damages because an operation wasn’t successful or a patient was
    lost. In many such cases, the practitioner did everything they could by the book,
    and such lawsuits can damage their reputations and ability to work effectively
    even though they did nothing wrong.

    On the other hand, patients are
    putting their full trust in their doctors, often putting their lives in their
    hands. Because of this vulnerability, negligence and medical malpractice should
    not only be punished but also deterred. While it’s easy to agree with both
    sides concerning these views, the U.S. Supreme Court recently made a decision
    that was a major victory for all patients, both those who suffered malpractice
    and future patients.

    The Disclosure of
    Records in Medical Malpractice Cases

    Over ten years ago, the residents of
    Florida voted to pass a Florida Constitutional Amendment that required medical
    providers to be transparent in their records about any adverse medical
    incidents that occurred in their hospitals or medical practices. Basically, if
    they lost or settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against them, the practice
    would have to make those records available to the general public. 

    The purpose of the amendment was to
    give patients the chance to research different medical practices and hospitals
    so that they could determine how often and how many medical mistakes were made
    that lead to injuries or deaths. This, in turn, would allow patients to choose
    a practice that they deemed to be the safest.

    As you can imagine, most medical
    practices were not happy with this amendment. By hiding malpractice records
    from the public, they can protect the reputation of their practitioners and of their
    practice. Being forced to be transparent about any incidents of malpractice
    would not only damage their reputations but could lose them countless patients.
    As such, they’ve spent millions of dollars in litigation over the past decade
    in an attempt to have the amendment repealed. 

    U.S. Supreme
    Court Ruling

    The Southern Baptist Hospital of
    Florida, which is based in Jacksonville, took their case to the U.S. Supreme
    Court after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the disputed records (those of
    malpractice incidents) must be disclosed. The U.S. Supreme Court declined
    to take up the appeal.

    The Southern Baptist Hospital of
    Florida made the appeal as a result of a lawsuit filed by the family of one of
    their patients, Marie Charles. The lawsuit alleged that medical negligence led
    to a severe neurological injury. 

    The ruling made by the Florida Supreme
    Court in the case was that the hospital had to turn over their records in
    accordance with the state amendment in 2004 requiring access to their adverse
    medical incident reports. The hospital system argued against having to turn
    over such records since they were abiding by the federal 2005 Patient Safety
    Act, which makes the disclosure of such documents voluntary as to protect the
    rights to confidentiality of their patients.


    Although the U.S. Supreme Court did
    not provide reasoning behind their refusal to take up the appeal (which is
    normal), their action is a huge victory for patients. It means that medical
    care professionals can no longer hide behind the federal 2005 Patient Safety
    Act in an attempt to preserve their reputation and must release their adverse
    medical incident reports so that patients have the chance to better compare and
    choose where to be treated.

    if you have been harmed by a medical mistake or neglect and need a medical malpractice lawyer call The Law Office of Gloria Law for a free consultation. You pay no fees unless there is a recovery.

    Skip to content