Battling it Out

Doctors and lawyers are at each others throats again, and this time the battle’s taking place at the state Supreme Court.

The high court is reviewing three proposed constitutional amendments lawyers say will crack down on medical malpractice, but doctors say the amendments are about political payback, not protecting patients.

Patti O’Regan came to the Florida Supreme Court to listen to arguments for three proposed constitutional amendments she hopes will crack down on medical malpractice.

O’Regan’s mother died after getting bad care in a hospital.

Patti says, “With the epidemic of medical errors killing over 100,000 people every single year, my mom was one of them, we need protection. In any other industry, any other profession, this would be intolerable.”

The proposed amendments would give the public access to information about medical mistakes in hospitals, pull the license of doctors who’ve committed medical malpractice three or more times, and require doctors to charge all patients the same fee for the same service.

The Supreme Court has to decide whether the amendments language is clear and covers only a single subject. Lawyers in favor of the amendments say they’re simple consumer protections.

But doctors say these amendments are not an effort to help patients. The medical community says it’s just another round of shots fired in the ongoing battle of doctors versus lawyers.

The Florida Medical Association says lawyers are throwing all these amendments at voters because they’re really mad about an amendment the doctors are pushing.

The doctors want to limit how much money attorneys make on malpractice cases, and voters will be stuck trying to sift through the competing messages if the Supreme Court allows all the amendments on the ballot this fall.

The doctors get their day in court Tuesday when the proposed amendment to limit attorneys’ fees will be considered by the Supreme Court justices. Doctors and lawyers are both hoping the court will issue a quick decision on the amendments next month so they’ll have time to get all the proposals on the November ballot.