• Malpractice Attorneys Believe New FL Law Violates Patient Privacy
  • July 18, 2013
  • Law Firm: Shapiro Lewis Appleton Duffan P.C. - Virginia Beach Office
  • Anyone who wants to sue a physician for malpractice in the state of Florida may lose their privacy rights under a new state law that became effective in July, according to a number of lawsuits that have been filed.

    The lawsuits are challenging the law in Florida that is called Ch. 2013-108. This law gives attorneys for doctors being sued for malpractice a right to talk to other doctors who worked with other patients, without the patient being told or given his or her consent.

    Ken Sobel, a Ft. Lauderdale attorney, filed suit in Broward County for Anne Hintz, a woman from Coral Springs who lost her husband in 2012.

    Hintz intended to sue the cardiologist who treated her husband, but she thought that starting the suit now could open the door to the lawyers for the doctor trying to get into medical issues unrelated to the suit.

    Sobel wrote in the lawsuit that her decision to sue for malpractice is depending upon a declaration of her right to privacy, and a decision by the Florida court on the case to grant such relief.

    Other lawyers have filed their cases in federal court. One case seeks to have the law in Florida struck down, the argument being that it is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. That Act is intended to protect the privacy of patients.

    Another attorney named Virginia Buchanan filed her case in state court in Pensacola FL.

    She noted in her suit that she is challenging the new law as a violation of the right to set rules of procedure in the courthouse, which is based upon a ruling of the Florida Supreme Court.

    The Florida Justice Association organized the suits, and all of them were filed on July 1. This is the day the law took effect.

    According to Florida State Senator Tom Lee, some of the plaintiffs are not interpreting the law properly. He noted that when a person files a claim for medical negligence, the medical condition is at issue. There needs to be some expectation that you are not going to be entitled to every privacy that you may expect when you are not filing a lawsuit. He noted that the law provides plaintiffs with a right to ID doctors who didn’t have relevant information, and to exclude them from questioning.

    Defense lawyers have the right to challenge an exclusion, but they have to tell the plaintiff of which physician they want to interview.

    Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro is a Virginia personal injury law firm that blogs every week about medical malpractice cases.