Appeals court rules Florida provision requiring disclosure of adverse medical incidents preempted by federal law

A provision of the Florida constitution that requires health care providers to disclose adverse medical incidents is preempted by federal law, a state appeals court has ruled.

In the case of Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc. v. Jean Charles, Jr., the First District Court of Appeal held that the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, a federal law, preempts Article X, section 25 of the Florida constitution, which is known by its designation on the ballot: Amendment 7.

Amendment 7 mandates that health care providers disclose “adverse medical incidents,” defined as any act, default or neglect on the part of a health care provider or facility that could have caused or did cause a patient to suffer injury or death. The information must be disclosed to any citizen of Florida who requests it. Amendment 7 sought to make medical mistakes more transparent, and it has also been used by plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits to obtain relevant information about defendants.

Now, the First District Court of Appeal has held that Amendment 7 is preempted by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, which encourages health care providers to collect information about medical errors, which can then be provided to a patient safety organization for analysis and recommendations. However, under the Act, the information collected is privileged until the medical provider decides to report it.

The court’s opinion is not final until after the expiration of the time to file a motion for rehearing. It is not yet known whether an appeal will be made to the Florida Supreme Court.