Medical malpractice revision moving toward November ballot

By The News Service of Florida
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida voters may be asked in November to weigh in on medical malpractice.

The General Revisions Committee of the Constitution Revision Commission on Friday agreed to move a proposed constitutional amendment focused on records of health care providers’ adverse incidents.

The measure would make it clear that the guaranteed access to adverse medical-incident reports does not “abrogate attorney-client communications or work product privileges for patients, health care providers, or health care facilities.”

Voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that gave patients the right to have access to the reports.

In October, the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal that would have allowed Bartow Regional Medical Center to avoid turning over records that were prepared -- at the request of the hospital's counsel -- outside of the ordinary peer-review process and in anticipation of litigation.

Tim Cerio, a member of the state Constitution Revision Commission and former general counsel to Gov. Rick Scott, crafted the proposed amendment.

The commission, which meets every 20 years, can put proposed constitutional changes directly on the 2018 ballot.

Florida Hospital Association outside counsel David Ashburn acknowledged that voters overwhelming supported the 2004 amendment that gave patients access to the records.

But he said that protecting attorney-client privilege also is something that will resonate with Florida voters.

Those conversations “shouldn’t be broadcast or disseminated,” he said.

News Service of Florida