A new medical malpractice law in Florida is drawing criticism from many groups who allege the new law violates the privacy rights established in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Bloomberg Business Week reports. On July 1, the day Senate Bill 1792 went into effect, five trial attorneys filed lawsuits against healthcare providers. The lawsuits allege that the law violates HIPAA by permitting defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits to obtain a plaintiff’s personal health care information from each and everyone one of the plaintiff’s healthcare providers.
According to the Florida Senate website, SB 1792 “authori[zes] a health care practitioner or provider who reasonably expects to be deposed, to be called as a witness, or to receive discovery requests to consult with an attorney on certain matters, authori[zes] the disclosure of patient information in connection with litigation under certain circumstances [and] authori[zes] a medical liability insurer to recommend an attorney to a health care practitioner or provider under certain circumstances.”
The attorneys hope to obtain both a judgment declaring that the new law violates patients’ HIPAA rights, and an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced. The attorneys allege the new law will keep patients from filing medical malpractice suits because of the fear of confidential personal information being shared. For instance, the lawsuit filed in a federal court in Miami involves a Plaintiff whose child was born with a seizure disorder. The complaint alleges that while the Plaintiff is considering filing a medical malpractice suit on the child’s behalf, the Plaintiff’s privacy concerns “weigh heavily” on her. Moreover, the complaint continues, the Plaintiff seeks to protect “the confidentiality of information relating to a sexual assault and rape she suffered during the course of her pregnancy.”
So far, three lawsuits against SB 1792 have been filed in federal court, and two have been filed in state court.