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Supreme Court Turns Down Jacksonville-Based Baptist Health System's Medical Records Case

Oct 3, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 5:59 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a Jacksonville-based hospital system about the disclosure of records in medical-malpractice cases.

Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc., which operates as the Baptist Health System in the Jacksonville area, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that disputed records should be disclosed.

The records fight stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the Baptist system by the family of patient Marie Charles.

The lawsuit alleged that negligence in her care caused a severe neurological injury, according to court documents.

The records issue focused on whether hospitals are required to disclose certain records to plaintiffs during medical-malpractice lawsuits --- or whether those records are shielded by a federal patient-safety law.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in the Charles case that the Baptist system was required to turn over the records, pointing to a 2004 state constitutional amendment intended to provide access to what are known in the health-care industry as "adverse medical incident" reports.

The Baptist system, however, argued that at least some of the records were shielded from release by the federal 2005 Patient Safety Act, which allows hospitals to voluntarily submit information about medical errors to what are known as "patient safety organizations" --- and offers certain confidentiality protections.

The federal law was aimed, at least in part, at encouraging health providers to submit information that could be analyzed and used to prevent future medical errors. As is common, the U.S. Supreme Court did not detail its reasons for declining to take up the case.

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