Legal Access to Adverse Incident Reports at Risk

Medical malpractice is a reality that many individuals experience every year. Based on the most recent statistics available, at least one million medical injuries occur annually of which approximately 85,000 malpractice law suits are filed.  Medical malpractice claims evolve from misdiagnoses or below standard care of patients that result in injuries and undue pain and suffering.

Winning a medical malpractice suit however requires that plaintiff’s and their attorneys operate within stringent parameters.  Adverse Incident reports, many believe, play a pivotal role in helping to successfully litigate a medical malpractice suit. The provision to make this document available to patients was achieved through an overwhelming voter decision in 2010.  However, a recent proposal currently on the 2018 Florida Constitution Revision Commission agenda threatens to amend the provision that gives patients access to this report. Many question whether the success of this proposal will result in the loss of the right to judicial justice if access is limited or denied.  

Adverse Incident Reports

Most medical facilities and services have a reporting system that is designed to record events. Studies show hospital administrators rely heavily on these systems to identify problems and troubleshoot problems.

The term “Adverse Incident Report” alludes to “medical negligence, intentional misconduct and any act, of neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient, unless otherwise protected by federal laws or regulations relating to patient safety quality improvement.”  

According to a 2010 report from the Office of Inspector General based on interviews with hospital administrators and incident reports collected from hospitals where adverse and temporary harm events occurred, the following was noted…

  • An estimated 13.5% of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their hospital stays that resulted in prolonged hospitalization, required life-sustaining intervention, caused permanent disability, or resulted in death.  
  • An additional 13.5% experienced temporary harm events that required treatment.
  • Physician reviewers determined that 44 percent of adverse and temporary harm events were clearly or likely preventable.

In a medical malpractice case, plaintiffs must be able to prove that injuries causing pain, suffering and economic damages were sustained due to negligence or mistreatment of a doctor or staff at a medical facility.  In fact, it is not possible to win a case without sufficient evidence and documentation to that effect. For this reason, the successful outcome of a medical malpractice case has often been attributed to the information presented in the Hospital’s Adverse Incident Report.   

According to Commissioner Tim Cerior who crafted the proposal, it seek to limit access to Adverse Incident Reports for privacy reasons.  He suggests that an increase in the number of medical-malpractice lawsuits and subsequent rulings have expanded the interpretation of “adverse-incident reports” which he intimates, has resulted in the release of documents that needlessly expose healthcare providers and hospitals. He further submits that the proposed amendment of the Adverse Incident Report would not “abrogate attorney-client communications or work product privileges for patients, health care providers, or health care facilities but rather remove documents that are reportedly protected by federal laws relating to patient safety quality improvement.

Florida voters returning to the polls in 2018 will decide whether or not patients will lose access to Adverse Incident reports or what some believe are their judicial right to justice for medical malpractice events.

If you are accused of malpractice, Call for a free consultation today at (561) 655-1990 or visit our website.

Medical Malpractice Attorney in West Palm Beach

About Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath.                                                                                  

Conveniently located in West Palm Beach for 27 years, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, LLP concentrates in Personal Injury, Wrongful death, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Auto accidents. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we specialize in helping victims and their families get fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of others. Our main areas of practice include personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, and premise liability. We provide each client with the highest quality representation from a top Florida accident and injury lawyer.

Sources:

  1. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-09-00090.pdf

 

Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath
515 N Flagler Dr, 10th Floor
West Palm Beach
Florida, FL 33401
(561) 655-1990
www.foryourrights.com

 

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