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U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of Florida Supreme Court ruling that Florida constitutional provision relating to records of adverse medical incidents is not preempted by federal law

On October 2, 2017, in Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida v. Charles, No. SC15-2180, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a Florida Supreme Court decision holding that the Florida constitutional provision guaranteeing public access to records of adverse medical incidents is not preempted by federal law. The plaintiff in the Florida case had sought documents related to previous adverse medical incidents at the defendant hospital or related to any physician who provided care and treatment at the hospital from three years before the plaintiff's medical incident through the time when the discovery request was filed. The hospital provided some responsive records, including two occurrence reports regarding the plaintiff, but claimed that other occurrence reports involving adverse incidents (presumably involving other patients) were privileged and confidential under the Federal Act. In ruling that the Federal Act did not preempt state law, the Florida Supreme Court noted that the Federal Act permitted but did not require provider participation, whereas the state law mandated disclosure, and concluded that the Federal Act was intended by Congress to improve health care, not act as a shield to providers.