Florida House Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Claims More Difficult

A bill currently before the Florida Legislature would make proving medical malpractice claims against doctors more difficult. House Bill 385 would allow a lawyer for a doctor accused of malpractice to question other doctors who previously treated an injured patient in private. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, believes the law would entice more physicians to practice in Florida. He also said the bill is designed to limit unnecessary tests administered by Florida doctors merely to avoid a potential malpractice lawsuit. A similar bill, Senate Bill 1506, is also being considered in the Florida Senate.

Opponents of House Bill 385 believe the proposed law is unnecessary and would violate patient privacy rights. They argue the bill has the potential to destroy a patient’s relationship with his or her doctor. It would also purportedly eliminate a physician’s liability for failing to administer necessary health tests. According to the Office of Insurance Regulation, medical malpractice insurance rates for physicians in Florida have recently declined. Additionally, malpractice claims against Florida doctors dropped between 2009 and 2010.

Representative Gaetz said that doctors will still be held responsible for their actions under the bill. He also claims patients who sue their doctor in Florida give up their medical history privacy rights regardless of the proposed law. House Bill 385 originally included state funded financial protections for emergency room doctors as well. That language was removed after financial estimates determined such protections would cost Florida taxpayers as much as $24 million annually.

The State of Florida requires patients to notify a doctor who may be sued for medical malpractice prior to filing a lawsuit. Patients must also obtain an expert opinion which supports a malpractice claim based on negligence. In 2003, limits were placed on damages which could be paid out for specific medical malpractice claims in Florida.

Doctors, nurses, dentists, hospitals, and other health care providers must provide patients with a reasonable standard of care. If a health care provider fails to provide proper care, a patient may be able to file a malpractice lawsuit. In Florida, a patient who was the victim of medical malpractice has two years to file a claim. Because insurance companies have up to two years to evaluate a medical malpractice claim before a lawsuit may be filed, it is important to consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer to represent your interests as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one was injured due to negligence on the part of a health care provider, contact Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. Our experienced Miami medical malpractice attorneys will assist you with filing your claim and obtaining the damages you deserve for your injuries. Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. represents clients throughout Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Weston, Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County. To speak with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer today, call Lazarus & Lazarus at (954) 356-0006 or contact us through our website.

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Additional Resources:

Florida Bill Seeks to Curb Medical Malpractice Claims, by Gary Fineout, Insurance Journal