The Florida Senate recently took sides in the battle of doctor versus injured patient when a medical mistake causes serious or fatal injuries. It did not take the side of the victim. Instead, it sided with doctors, and added new barriers to justice for victims of medical malpractice.
The Senate approved 27-12 a bill that would require medical experts in malpractice cases to be of the same specialty as the doctor accused of making a serious medical mistake. Currently, expert witnesses must be of a "similar" specialty.
The bill now heads to the House for debate.
Requiring expert witnesses to be of the same specialty as the accused doctor may artificially limit the number of expert witnesses available. Professional circles become smaller and smaller the more specialized a doctor, physician or surgeon becomes. As the circle tightens, the likelihood that one will testify against another within that circle also becomes smaller.
The House had previously removed the stricter expert witness requirements from its version of the med mal reform bill.
Also included in the proposed changes to medical malpractice laws is a waiver of patient confidentiality. The proposed bill would allow doctors who are called as witnesses in a medical malpractice case to reveal information about a patient's course of treatment.
Source: Jacksonville Business Journal, "Florida Senate passes medical malpractice bill," April 12, 2013