In a recent article in The Huffington Post, Spencer Aronfeld, author and founder of Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, discusses how a new law in Florida (SB 1792) will make it more difficult for claimants to win a med mal case. The law redefines who can qualify as an expert witness in a case against a doctor. Prior to the new law, Florida defined an expert witness as a healthcare provider who practices in the “same or similar” specialty. The new law would permit only doctors who are specialists in the exact same specialty to testify against another physician. According to Mr. Aronfeld, “That restriction will have a chilling effect on the rights of injured patients hoping to find doctors who are both qualified and willing to come to court and testify against members of their own medical community.”
Another change in the law would permit a defendant doctor’s or hospital’s attorneys to request a meeting with a plaintiff’s treating physician. Initially, the meeting would be with the plaintiff’s attorney present, but after 15 days, the defense attorneys could meet with the treating physician without the plaintiff attorney present to discuss the plaintiff’s medical records, diagnosis, and prognosis – and even recommend a defense lawyer. According to Mr. Aronfeld, “Effectively this means that a medical malpractice defense lawyer will be able to confer with a treating doctor and discuss the confidential medical history of a patient as well as the defense’s strategy.” This would seem to invade the doctor-patient relationship and have the potential to influence testimony and opinions that a treating physician may have in a case.
Mr. Aronfeld summarizes by stating, “These changes are yet another example of how seemingly minuscule tweaking of a statute can create a tectonic shifting of power by stripping away the legal rights of the weakest members of our community and handing them over to the rich and powerful.”
I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Aronfeld.
The full article can be read here.