In an important constitutional issue in this medical negligence and medical records case, the dispute was whether patients in the state of Florida have the right to access records under the Florida Constitution and its Amendment 7, specifically records relating to “adverse medical incidents.” These records are considered privileged and confidential under the Federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (“the Federal Act”) such that the Florida law was preempted by this federal law.
In the appeal of this case, it was concluded that adverse medical incident reports requested by patients pursuant to the Florida Amendment 7 to its constitution was not preempted by the Federal Act. The lower court in Florida held that the Federal Act did preclude access to medical records in the state of Florida, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Federal Act was never intended as a shield for the production of documents required by Amendment 7 and other provisions of Florida law. The court also stated that provisions of Florida law are not preempted by the Federal Act, which set up a voluntary system for hospitals to improve patient’s safety.
In this case, Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida cannot shield documents and medical records not privileged under state law or the state constitution by virtue of its unilateral decision of where to place the documents under the voluntary reporting system created by the Florida Act.