Thursday, April 28, 2005


You may remember Amendments 7 and 8 from the November Florida Ballot. Amendment 7 was titled "the patient's right to know about adverse medical incidents" and Amendment 8 (a bit more contentious) is known as the "Public Protection from Repeated Medical Malpractice".

Both of these amendments were introduced by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and opposed by the Florida Medical Association. Furthermore, both amendments could strongly influence the health profession in Florida.

Amendment 8 includes a 3-strikes your out law for physicians who commit acts of malpractice. While the amendment was passed during the election, the ramifications and implications of its passage were not thuroughly considered until after the fact. Luckily this amendment was written so that it had to be passed by a House resolution. Furthermore, "strikes" were not clearly defined, nor was the time scale for these strikes (i.e is this retroactive?). Soon after the amdendment passed, the judicial branch recognized its far reaching impacts and put a moratorium on its hearing in the house until language could be better worked out. Basically, if the bill was retroactive, the state would stand to lose numerous physicians and if it wasn't retroactive the state would plan to land future physicians by the bus load - literally; a survey done of all medical students at USF, FSU, UF, and UM found that before Amendment 8, 85% of students would consider practicing in Florida, but if Amendment 8 were to pass the percentage drops significantly, to under 20%

Lobying efforts by the FMA and a strong show of support from physicians in Florida led to a focused effort by the Florida house to come up with a fair version of this law.
In April, SB940 was passed by the Florida house with support from the Florida Medical Association. The final product of Amendment 8 that will become law is NOT retroactive and establishes a Board of Medicine made up of physicians and other members who are qualified to review the actions of their peers. For an act of malpractice to be considered a 'strike' it will first be considered by the Board.

In other legislative news, the house struck down a resolution that would have allowed Naturopaths (new age freaks) to prescribe meds and perform procedures (how about some snake oil with those hot stones?) and refused to hear a bill that would have allowing Nurse Practicioners to have prescription authority.

No comments: