Continuously Challenged Medical Liability Laws Drive Up Costs

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Earlier this week, the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a portion of the Florida Chamber-backed medical liability reforms that were made in 2013. At question was if “ex parte communications” violated the patient’s right to privacy in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In these cases, “ex parte communications” allow the defense attorney to receive medical information about the patient, including from other doctors who have treated the patient, without the patient or the patient’s attorney needing to be present. This allows the defense attorney to have a clear picture of any other factors that may have contributed to the patient’s medical injury.

This is not the first challenge regarding privacy in medical malpractice cases and “ex parte communications.”  A federal court last year upheld the 2013 reforms, saying that Florida’s addition of “ex parte communications” does not violate federal health care privacy rights.

Furthermore, trial lawyers have continuously attacked the caps for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, with a district court of appeal ruling earlier this month that these caps violated the equal protection clause. This follows a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court last year that also threw out caps on non-economic damages, allowing a patient to collect pain and suffering.

Medical liability lawsuits drive up the cost of doing business, not just for doctors, but for all. Doctors are more likely to order extra tests or procedures to avoid any malpractice, which drives up the cost of healthcare. This is why the Florida Chamber has included medical liability reform in its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan.

What’s Next?

The Florida Legislature will start meeting again on September 16th, kicking off fall committee meetings, with a 2016 Florida Legislative Session start date of January 12th. The Florida Chamber will continue to advocate to reduce the cost of healthcare and reform Florida’s bottom-10 legal climate. To add your voice to the fight, contact Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com.