Medical records case goes to U.S. Supreme Court

By Jim Saunders

The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Arguing that a Florida Supreme Court ruling “undermines” a federal patient-safety law, a Jacksonville hospital system is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a legal battle about the disclosure of medical records.

Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc., which operates as the Baptist Health System in the Jacksonville area, filed a petition last week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a Jan. 31 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court.

The case could have implications for medical-malpractice lawsuits across Florida and deals with interplay between a 2005 federal patient-safety law and a 2004 Florida constitutional amendment that was designed to expand access to health-care providers’ records in malpractice cases.

The 2004 constitutional amendment, backed by plaintiffs’ attorneys, was intended to provide access to what are known in the health-care industry as “adverse medical incident” reports.