Obtaining your medical records in Florida is essential for understanding your care and treatment and whether a viable claim may exist for medical negligence or hospital malpractice in Florida. Florida Statute Section 766.204 is the Florida law that requires healthcare providers to provide medical records to patients or their families.
Yet obtaining your own medical records in Florida can often be a daunting proposition. Doctors and hospitals seem protective, often changing and sometimes destroying patients’ medical records to create a legal defense to medical malpractice or hospital neglect in Florida. In Florida, all patients have an absolute legal right to access to their medical records, though access can prove difficult. Section 766.204 (1) requires Florida’s healthcare providers to produce any medical record that is relevant to any litigation of a medical negligence claim to a claimant or to their attorney within 10 business days of a request for copies. The hospital has the right to request a reasonable payment. It is not acceptable for the health care provider to refuse copies of medical records that they are not yet finished or that there is medical bill outstanding.
If the healthcare provider fails to provide copies of the medical records, or demands an unreasonable charge, it will be considered that the healthcare provider did not comply with the good faith discovery requirements of Florida’s medical malpractice law and has waived any requirement for the victim to get an expert witness affidavit to comply with Florida’s Medical Malpractice Presuit Requirements.
Often patients are not provided with the details that doctors put in their records regarding the differential diagnosis, treatment plan or options. After over twenty years of representing injured Florida patients, I have learned how different the patients perspectives often are from what the doctors actually write in the records. The most common “mistake” regards follow-up appointments or referrals for further diagnostic testing. A doctor will typically write in his records that a patient should follow up in 10 days or get a specific test. However, for some reason patients rarely get this information or understand this. I have often had conversations with clients who do not return to the their doctors for follow-up appointments as prescribed in the records. When I ask, why, the always say, that the doctor did not tell them or “nobody from his office ever called.”
This type of miscommunication is also common in Pembroke Pines truck crash claims and pedestrian car accidents. A patient will be given discharge instructions, but not a copy of the complete chart. As a South Broward rollover car wreck lawyer, I highly recommend that you ask for a complete copy of your entire chart, including the last visit. This is vitally important for several reasons. You want to insure that your complaints, signs and symptoms have been properly documented and understood by the medical treater and also, and equally important, that you have understood the diagnosis and follow up instructions.
Lastly, most of our North Miami traffic accident injury clients have a number of doctors working on their health issues both before and after a car wreck. Often, one specialist, like a cardiologist, does not know that their patient has recently been injured. We recommend that you provide a copy of your medical records from each visit to all of your doctors so that they can all be on the same page and bring an integrated approach to your medical care and treatment. This is especially crucial if you are receiving various medications from different providers that might be contraindicated when taken together. We believe that the best approach lies with creating a secure on-line presences to keep all medical records and appointments available to health care providers.
Unfortunately, the viability of electronic health records looks dismal after the rare failure of Google Health. Yet in integrated health systems around the country they have been implemented and utilized by patients. Google’s failure creates a huge opportunity to address the fragmentation of our country’s healthcare records. I think this would be a huge opportunity for job creation, while improving healthcare and eliminating the potential for doctors and hospitals to make mistakes. Governor Scott, are you listening?