Florida Attorneys Challenge Medical Malpractice Law

Florida trial attorneys filed five lawsuits against health-care providers challenging a state law that imposes new restrictions on medical malpractice claims.

The attorneys allege that the law allows medical malpractice defendants to acquire personal health care information about a plaintiff from all health-care providers, in violation of the privacy rights established under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, according to the lawsuits.

The law will deter patients from filing medical malpractice lawsuits for fear personal information will be divulged, plaintiffs’ attorneys said. The lawsuits seek a judgment from the courts that the law violates patients’ rights and an injunction stopping enforcement of the measure, which went into effect today.

The new law authorizes contacts by potential defendants with the health-care providers before lawsuits are filed and “unlimited and unfettered release of personal health information to those defendants without the valid consent of claimants,” according to a complaint filed in federal court in Miami.

Three of the suits were filed in federal court in Florida, and two were brought in state court.

Child’s Disorder

The plaintiff in the Miami case, listed only as Jane Doe, said she is contemplating a lawsuit on behalf her child, who was born with a seizure disorder, according to the complaint. A concern for privacy “weighs heavily” on whether she will file, her lawyers said.

“Plaintiff Jane Doe seeks to protect her privacy and the confidentiality of information relating to a sexual assault and rape she suffered during the course of her pregnancy,” they said in the complaint.

A representative of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the lawsuits.

The Miami case is Doe v. Palm Beach Obstetrics & Gynecology, 13-cv-80655, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

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