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Public access to Florida physician records greatly restricted

Florida patients are being kept in the dark regarding medical malpractice histories and physician licensing. Thanks to a number of legal statutes and federal laws, hospitals in Florida have been able to operate in an environment where mistakes may be hidden from the public. Additionally, the credentials and licensing of physicians are well-protected by the hospitals. Without access to this information, there is a risk that a patient may be the victim of medical malpractice or negligence.

As it is now, the public is restricted from accessing a federal database that includes information on doctors who have had disciplinary issues filed against them or have committed malpractice. Prior to new laws that were recently passed, the public had greater access to this information. In Florida, access to this information is similarly difficult.

Patients can locate licensing and malpractice incidences against a particular doctor by following a tangled web of red tape. Using a combination of writing letters to different organizations, filling out several forms, navigating numerous websites, and finally paying a $25.00 fee, patients can finally obtain information on any pending claims against a particular doctor.

In addition to this, some hospitals do not even make some of the most important information - such as frequency of bedsores and broken hips - available on their websites. Providing those types of statistics would greatly help patients make informed decisions on their medical care.

Currently, this type of behavior is protected under the law. Data regarding a physician's credentialing and privileging can be obtained, but it may take years of legal action.

Unfortunately, Florida patients who do not have accurate information regarding the care history of a doctor may continue to find themselves the victim of a negligent physician or hospital. It is still important, however, to hold a doctor or hospital liable for any negligence exhibited. Doing so may prevent the same thing from happening to another person.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Florida's Hospitals Have a Secret," Spencer Aronfeld, Jan. 27, 2012

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