In a case drawing interest from doctors, hospitals, trial lawyers and the senior-advocacy group AARP, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in October in a dispute about documents disclosed in medical-malpractice cases.
Justices on Wednesday scheduled oral arguments Oct. 5 in the case, which stems, in part, from a 2004 constitutional amendment that sought to ensure broad access to records held by hospitals and other providers about “adverse” medical incidents.
Such information can be useful to plaintiffs in pursuing malpractice lawsuits. But the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a Jacksonville case, ruled last year that a 2005 federal law pre-empted the state disclosure requirements.
The ruling said the federal law created a system for health-care providers to share information about errors, with the goal of improving care and patient safety — and also offered protections against information being used in lawsuits.
The case then went to the Supreme Court, where numerous groups, including the American Medical Association, the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Justice Association and AARP, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs.
In the underlying case, the family of Marie Charles filed a malpractice lawsuit alleging she suffered neurological injuries because of negligence while she was a patient at two Baptist Medical Center facilities, according to a 2014 ruling by Duval County Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace.
Baptist turned over some requested documents but refused to produce others.
At least part of the dispute involved information known as “patient safety work product” under the federal law.
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