Florida’s Medical Secrecy Laws

Guest Post | October 21st, 2013

Medical Malpractice AwardBeing diagnosed with an acute or chronic health condition can be quite concerning—especially in cases where the disorder has been identified as life-threatening. Over the past several decades, lawmakers around the country have developed medical secrecy laws, which allow men and women to keep their health conditions private. Unfortunately, changes in these long-standing regulations may mean that individuals have less control over the knowledge of their health status. Men and women who live in Florida should be sure to understand the medical secrecy laws of the state.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Signed in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act –or HIPAA, by which it is more commonly known—is a federal regulation that maintains the security and privacy of individual health histories.  Traditionally, HIPAA prevents employers from excluding workers from insurance plans due to previously diagnosed health conditions. Similarly, HIPAA laws prevent the sharing of medical information without the consent of the patient being treated. While HIPAA laws do cover children, exceptions exist which allow parents access to information related to the health and care of their minor children in question.

Senate Bill 1792

In June 2013, Florida Senate members signed Senate Bill 1792 into effect. This law approves the legality of “ex parte communications” in medical negligence cases—thus making it legal for defense attorneys to speak with the healthcare provider of the individual who brought the case, without the presence of the patient’s attorney. Opponents of the law believe that Senate Bill 1792 is in direct conflict with the Florida Constitution, as it is an obvious violation of personal privacy. Attorneys on both sides of the issue continue to battle for the inclusion or exclusion of Senate Bill 1792 from the Florida state Constitution.

Consequences of New Laws

Experts on both sides of the issue agree that there are a number of consequences associated with Senate Bill 1792. Opponents believe that allowing defense attorneys to speak with providers would cause patients to be less likely to divulge important information to their physicians out of fear of retaliation—and therefore potentially decrease the quality of their care. Similarly, some experts are concerned about what Senate Bill 1792 would mean for individuals during job transitions. Those who are in favor of the new law, however, suggest that the bill would create more transparency in the field of medical negligence, thus potentially limiting lawsuit costs.

Seeking Assistance

“Because doctors and other health care practitioners provide a professional service, they are held to a “professional” standard, which means that their behavior is judged in light of what a reasonable professional in their position would do” according to Abelsonlaw.com. Obviously, there are both pros and cons associated with Florida’s Senate Bill 1792. Experts agree that the only way to make a smart decision on the legality of the issue is to obtain a complete understanding of the bill in question. Individuals who do have concerns about maintaining the privacy of their health status may want to consider a consultation with a legal expert who is experienced in the field of medical negligence.

 

About the Author:

Robert Gordon is the editor of medical-directions.com, a health fanatic and avid Kayaker. He spends most of his time reading medical blogs and searching for new content to engage his readership.