Bill would give public more information about doctors
FLORIDA–An act approved on the legislature’s last day in session would make physician profiles, criminal histories and information regarding malpractice settlements available on the Internet by July 1999. The information will also be available to the public through a toll-free phone number.
The Florida bill, passed in early May, is patterned after one adopted in Massachusetts last year. Sponsor Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R- Brooksville) said the bill will make Florida patients “safer.” “The health of Floridians will be substantially improved,” Brown-Waite told the St. Petersburg Times.
The bill would make available to the public information about education, specialties, hospital privileges, length of practice, malpractice claims and settlements and disciplinary actions of physicians, chiropractors and podiatrists.
The Florida Medical Association supported the measure. Dr. Cecil Wilson, FMA’s president-elect, told the St. Petersburg Times that the FMA “thinks it’s important for people to have information about their physicians.” But the FMA warned that a doctor is not incompetent merely because he or she has a malpractice settlement on the record. Language to that effect was incorporated into the bill. Every online profile will include the statement, “settlement of a claim may occur for a variety of reasons that do not necessarily reflect negatively on the professional competence of conduct of the physician.”
As of mid-May, Gov. Lawton Chiles was reviewing the bill.
The legislatures in both California and Maryland are considering similar measures. (S.B. 948)