Doctors on the Defensive

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Voters overwhelmingly said yes to a constitutional amendment that would make the records public, but as the courts may ultimately decide whether your vote counts.

Gynecologist Evan Dussia is angered by the passage of Amendment Seven. It opens adverse medical incident reports to the public. Dr. Dussia says the reports sometimes include comments fellow doctors make about each other that don’t mean the doctor isn’t competent.

Hospitals argue making confidential information public might make doctors less willing to participate in peer reviews and open the door to more frivolous lawsuits.

But attorneys for patients injured by doctors say darn right the public should be able to see those records, and nearly six million Florida voters agreed. Unlike a hairdresser or a mechanic, doctors can hold your life in their hands, that’s why attorney Lance Block is frustrated hospitals have sued to keep you from seeing the reports.

Lance Block says, “The only thing that’s different is that the public gets to see what the peer review shows. What’s wrong with that? Why does everything have to be so secret? Why can’t they tell the truth openly?”

And access to the truth is something voters thought they’d already decided when they voted to make those records public, but now the courts will have the final say.

A decision on whether the amendment should be delayed to give the Legislature a crack at it is pending in Leon County Circuit Court. That's expected next week, but since it only impacts Leon County, it’s likely lawsuits will be filed in other parts of the state as well.

Both sides expect the issue will ultimately end up before the Florida Supreme Court.