Beware Florida Medical Malpractice Legislation that Skewers Innocent Patients April 30, 2012.

For some reason, politicians in Florida want to stick it to medical malpractice patients. They want to pass a bill limiting doctor liability.

If you have ever been the victim of medical malpractice, you will know how passionate you have become about making sure the medical professionals who harmed you are held responsible. It becomes a quest for many patients that have been victims of medical malpractice, and they hope what happened to them will never happen to someone else.

If the Florida Legislature gets its way, holding doctors accountable for medical malpractice will become a virtual impossibility. This is not good news for any state, not just Florida, for what passes there, may well be passed in other jurisdictions like Ohio. As a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer, this type of Draconian legislation makes the blood run cold.

The Florida Bill is supposed to reduce the medical malpractice liability of medical professionals in that state. It is deeply disturbing for many reasons. It acts as a shield for doctors from liability for harming a patient. For example, if a physician is negligent in not ordering necessary tests, the result could seriously harm or kill a patient. If there is a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, a patient may not survive. This bill states the patient needs to show clear and convincing evidence that the doctor was negligent in not performing other tests.

Most patients are not doctors. Putting them in the position of having to clearly prove the doctor was negligent is like handing a stick of dynamite to a toddler and telling them not to play with the matches sitting on the table in plain sight. No one in their right mind would risk a child’s life like that, but the state of Florida is willing to risk an innocent patient’s life to continue to let a negligent doctor practice. What is wrong with that picture?

Patients went to the doctor because they trusted them, needed care and expected, because of the doctor’s higher standard of training, that they would be helped. If they are seriously harmed or killed by the very person they trusted, they would be hung out to dry by this proposed bill. Patients just do not, and in most cases never will, have enough evidence to satisfy such a high legal burden.

If this bill passes, they will not be able to receive the compensation they would deserve if they were harmed by their medical doctor. That means patients may face catastrophic injuries, at the hands of a doctor, that they have to pay for, for the rest of their lives. How is this fair?

A serious warning note is being sounded by another provision in this same bill; the drive to discourage doctors from ordering tests that would pinpoint grave illnesses before they got to the point of no return. If doctors are being encouraged to not order tests that could prevent a needless death, more people will die for no good reason. It makes you wonder what legislators regard as good medical care and if they needed tests, would they expect them? Likely they would, but they don’t want you to have them.

If it isn’t bad enough that the bill wants to rip away patient’s protection against medical malpractice, it also invades their privacy. It proposes letting a doctor’s lawyer interview the patient’s other doctors without the patient or the patient’s lawyer being there at the same time. This is a clear violation of patient rights. It gives defense unfettered access to health information that is not relevant to a lawsuit, and provides defense attorneys with an unfair advantage. It is the patient, harmed by the doctor that is to be protected, not the doctor who negligently committed medical malpractice. Attacking tort victims as if they were the enemy makes no sense. Hopefully Florida comes to its senses before passing something that will set patient’s rights and protections back to the Dark Ages.