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For their own good
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Appeal over hospital files rejected
Published March 7, 2008
TALLAHASSEE - Patients have a right to check records on past mistakes made by their doctors and hospitals no matter how old those files are, a sharply divided Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The justices in a 4-3 opinion rejected an appeal from hospitals claiming access should be limited to records created since November 2004, when voters adopted a "patients' right to know" amendment to Florida's Constitution.
They also declared unconstitutional parts of a law the Legislature passed that interpreted the amendment as applying only to future records.
The unsigned majority opinion concluded the amendment was intended to apply to existing as well as future records because it refers to "any" records and "any" adverse medical incidents.
The Florida Justice Association, formerly Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, led a petition drive that put the amendment on the ballot.
Association president Frank Petosa said the high court abided by voters' intent when they passed the amendment by 81 percent, the biggest margin ever for a citizen initiative.