Florida House may give docs new help in medical malpractice cases

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With lawmakers getting “lobbied to death” on the issue, a House committee Thursday expanded a bill that would help doctors and hospitals fight medical-malpractice lawsuits, reports Jim Saunders of Health News Florida.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-3 to approve HB 479, after making a controversial change that would give defense attorneys a new tool in gathering information about patients in medical-malpractice cases.

Also, the committee added legal protections for doctors who volunteer to work with high-school athletics teams.

The bill, a top priority of the Florida Medical Association, is now ready to go to the full House, and a similar measure is moving through the Senate. Trial lawyers are trying to torpedo the proposal, arguing that it would hurt malpractice victims.

Bill sponsor Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, said Florida doctors pay some of the highest medical-malpractice insurance rates in the country, which hurts the state’s ability to recruit and keep physicians. As an example, he pointed to Rep. Ari Porth, whose brother practices medicine in Alabama instead of in Florida.

“The medical-malpractice rates in this state are out of control,” said Horner, who added that committee members had been “lobbied to death” on the bill. Continue reading Jim Saunders’ story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.