CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation880 So.2d 617
Docket NumberNo. SC04-777.,SC04-777.
Decision Date15 July 2004

880 So.2d 617


No. SC04-777.

Supreme Court of Florida.

July 15, 2004.

Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, and Louis Hubener, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, for Petitioner.

Jon Mills and Timothy McLendon, Gainesville, FL, on behalf of Floridians for Patient Protection, Proponents.

880 So.2d 618
Graham H. Nichol, General Counsel and Don A. Dennis, Assistant General Counsel, Florida Dental Association; and Harold R. Mardenborough, Jr., of McFarlain & Cassedy, P.A., Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of Florida Dental Association, Opponents


The Attorney General has requested that this Court review a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would permit patients and prospective patients of health care providers to obtain information concerning adverse medical incidents. We have jurisdiction. See art. IV, § 10; art. V, § 3(b)(10), Fla. Const. For the reasons explained below, we approve the amendment and the ballot title and summary for placement on the ballot.


The proposed amendment provides as follows:

1) Statement and Purpose:
The Legislature has enacted provisions relating to a patients' bill of rights and responsibilities, including provisions relating to information about practitioners' qualifications, treatment and financial aspects of patient care. The Legislature has, however, restricted public access to information concerning a particular health care provider's or facility's investigations, incidents or history of acts, neglects, or defaults that have injured patients or had the potential to injure patients. This information may be important to a patient. The purpose of this amendment is to create a constitutional right for a patient or potential patient to know and have access to records of a health care facility's or provider's adverse medical incidents, including medical malpractice and other acts which have caused or have the potential to cause injury or death. This right to know is to be balanced against an individual patient's rights to privacy and dignity, so that the information available relates to the practitioner or facility as opposed to individuals who may have been or are patients.
2) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
Section 22. Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Medical Incidents.
(a) In addition to any other similar rights provided herein or by general law, patients have a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.
(b) In providing such access, the identity of patients involved in the incidents shall not be disclosed, and any privacy restrictions imposed by federal law shall be maintained.
(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) The phrases "health care facility" and "health care provider" have the meaning given in general law related to a patient's rights and responsibilities.
(2) The term "patient" means an individual who has sought, is seeking, is undergoing, or has undergone care or treatment in a health care facility or by a health care provider.
(3) The phrase "adverse medical incident" means medical negligence, intentional misconduct, and any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient, including, but not limited to, those incidents that are required by
880 So.2d 619
state or federal law to be reported to any governmental agency or body, and incidents that are reported to or reviewed by any health care facility peer review, risk management, quality assurance, credentials, or similar committee, or any representative of any such committees.
(4) The phrase "have access to any records" means, in addition to any other procedure for producing such records provided by general law, making the records available for inspection and copying upon formal or informal request by the patient or a representative of the patient, provided that current records which have been made publicly available by publication or on the Internet may be "provided" by reference to the location at which the records are publicly available.
3) Effective Date and Severability:
This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.

The ballot title for the proposed amendment is "Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Medical Incidents." The summary for the proposed amendment states:

Current Florida law restricts information available to patients related to investigations of adverse medical incidents, such as medical malpractice. This amendment would give patients the right to review, upon request, records of health care facilities' or providers' adverse medical incidents, including those which could cause injury or death. Provides that patients' identitie [sic] should not be disclosed.


In Advisory Opinion to the Att'y General re Amendment to Bar Government from Treating People Differently Based on Race in Public Education, 778 So.2d 888 (Fla.2000), this Court summarized its standard of review in initiative petition cases as follows:

The Court's inquiry, when determining the validity of initiative petitions, is limited to two legal issues: whether the petition satisfies the single-subject requirement of article XI, section 3, Florida Constitution, and whether the ballot titles and summaries are printed in clear and unambiguous language pursuant to section 101.161, Florida Statutes (1999). See Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Right of Citizens to Choose Health Care Providers, 705 So.2d 563, 565 (Fla.1998); Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Prohibiting Public Funding of Political Candidates' Campaigns, 693 So.2d 972, 974 (Fla.1997). In order for the Court to invalidate a proposed amendment, the record must show that the proposal is clearly and conclusively defective on either ground. See Askew v. Firestone, 421 So.2d 151, 154 (Fla.1982). In determining the propriety of the initiative petitions, the Court does not review the merits of the proposed amendments.

Id. at 890-91.



Article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution requires that an amendment proposed by initiative "shall embrace but one subject and matter directly connected therewith." Importantly, the single-subject limitation protects the State's fundamental

880 So.2d 620
document from "precipitous" and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
23 cases
  • Florida Hosp. Waterman, Inc. v. Buster, SC06-688
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 6, 2008 approved by the electorate." Advisory Opinion to the Att'y Gen. re Patients' Right to Know About Adverse 984 So.2d 482 Med. Incidents, 880 So.2d 617, 619 (Fla. 2004) ("Patients' Right to Know").2 The ballot title for the proposed amendment was "Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Medic......
  • Charles v. S. Baptist Hosp. of Fla., Inc., SC15–2180
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 31, 2017
    ...important to a patient.’ " Id. at 488 (quoting Advisory Op. to the Att'y Gen. re Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Med. Incidents , 880 So.2d 617, 618 (Fla. 2004) ).3 As the First District stated:In 2005, Congress ... [passed] the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (the ......
  • In re Advisory Op. to the Attorney Gen. Re ex rel. Marijuana for Certain Med. Conditions. Advisory Op. to the Attorney Gen. Re ex rel. Marijuana for Certain Med. Conditions, s. SC13–2006
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 27, 2014
    ...dominant plan or scheme.” Id. at 181–82 (quoting Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Med. Incidents, 880 So.2d 617, 620 (Fla.2004)). Further, removing state-imposed penalties and liability from those involved in the authorized medical use of marijuana consist......
  • Tallahassee Mem'l Healthcare, Inc. v. Wiles, 1D21-1503
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 14, 2022
    ...likely future impact of Amendment 7. See In re Advisory Op. to the Att'y Gen. re Patients' Right to Know About Adverse Med. Incidents, 880 So.2d 617 (Fla. 2004) ("Patients' Right to Know"). This interpretation and its aftermath which led to the rationale of the decision in Charles II, have ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT