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Patient’s Rights to Know Not as Diluted as The Herald Suggested

This past Sunday, the Miami Herald published a story about Florida’s “Patient’s Right to Know” law. Click here for The Herald story. The law, passed as a constitututional amendment in 2004 and known as “Amendment 7,” allows Florida patients to access records of “adverse incidents” at Florida hospitals. Sure, hospitals have fought the law and sought to obstruct patient access to these records, and many hospitals are now much more circumspect in what they put in writing after an adverse incident has occurred at their premises. But since Amendment 7 was passed, Florida courts have uniformly recognized the patient’s right to obtain records. This right is especially powerful when the patient is seeking the “inside story” about his or her own case.

Previously limited by hospital privileges such as the “peer review” privilege, the records are now obtainable. They have made a big difference in several of our cases, often revealing information we never would have learned otherwise. The leading Florida case interpreting the scope of Amendment 7 and providing for patient access to the adverse incident records comes from the Florida Supreme Court. The case is Forida Hospital Waterman v. Buster, 478 So. 2d 478 (Fla. 2008). Also, here is a blistering opinion from the Third DCA in one of our cases, post Buster, in which the defendant hospital appealed a trial court’s order requiring the defendant hospital to produce Amendment 7 materials: