Patient’s Legal Right to Get Hospital Incident Reports and Risk Management Investigations in Florida

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How Can I Obtain an Incident Report in my Hospital Injury Case?

This post on obtaining hospital adverse incident reports was updated on May 9, 2019. 

Explaining the Hospital ‘Adverse Incident Report’

When things go bad in a hospital, the law requires an investigation. The internal investigative body within the hospital will then create an adverse incident report. In the adverse incident report, hospital supervisors detail what happened, how the patient was injured and what should have been done to prevent the negligence. For obvious reasons, these adverse incident reports present a treasure trove of information for the injured victim in proving their medical malpractice lawsuit.

Hospitals Resist Producing Their Investigations of Negligent Events

Historically, hospitals objected to producing adverse incident reports, claiming they were internal risk management investigations created in anticipation of litigation. However, in 2004, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 7 to the Florida Constitution, titled the Florida Patient’s Right to Know, which mandated that Florida hospitals allow “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.” Art. X, § 25(a), Fla. Const.  More than 80% of Floridians voted in favor of allowing patients access to adverse incident reports, thereby bypassing Florida’s biased legislature and allowing the Amendment to be codified into law.

Even After ‘Patient’s Right to Know’ Passed, Hospitals Refused Production of Adverse Medical Incident Reports

Hospital lawyers became crafty with their objections, citing work product, attorney client privilege and patient safety reporting requirements. The effect of these objections were continued denials to produce adverse medical incident reports. However, the Supreme Court of Florida issued an opinion putting all the issues to rest.

Recent Supreme Court Opinion Affirms the Patient’s Right to Obtain the Hospital Injury Incident Report

Ruling in favor of wrongfully injured patients in Florida, our Supreme Court ruled as follows in the landmark opinion of Edwards v. Thomas, MD. In Edwards v. Thomas MD, the Supreme Court of Florida decided that even peer review reports are discoverable under Amendment 7. From the Plaintiff’s bar perspective, this merely affirmed what we already knew. That Amendment 7 clearly allows for a patient, or a patient’s representative, to obtain any and all adverse incident reports relating to any adverse medical incident.

The Supreme Court in Edwards held:

. . . the purpose of Amendment 7 ‘was to do away with the legislative restrictions on a Florida patient’s access to a medical provider’s “history of acts, neglects, or defaults” because such history “may be important to a patient.” ’ ” Charles v. S. Baptist Hosp. of Fla., Inc., 209 So. 3d 1199, 1204 (Fla. 2017) (quoting Fla. Hosp. Waterman, Inc. v. Buster (Buster), 984 So. 2d 478, 488 (Fla. 2008)) cert. denied, 2017 WL 2444641 (Oct. 2, 2017).

. . .

Therefore, as the plain language of the amendment mandates, we hold that Amendment 7 was aimed at eliminating all discovery restrictions on “any records . . . relating to any adverse medical incident.” Art. X, § 25(a), Fla. Const. (emphasis added).
Edwards v. Thomas M.D., Supreme Court of Florida Opinion, No. SC15-1893, October 27, 2017

When is an Adverse Incident Report Required?

Hospitals are required to report ‘adverse events’, which is loosely defined as patient harm due to medical care. Commonly reported hospital adverse events in Florida include:

Trouble Obtaining an Injury Incident Report from a Hospital in Florida?

Do not get pushed around by an overzealous risk manager or hospital records department. Know your legal rights. As a former patient, you are entitled to view injury incident reports under Florida law. The law is now crystal clear on this issue.

Our lawyers can help. We routinely obtain hospital adverse incident reports at no up front cost to our clients. Contact us today for your free consultation on how to use the law to obtain your adverse incident report and corresponding risk management investigation.

If you are having trouble obtaining a copy of your adverse incident report following an incident of medical malpractice, call our attorneys today for a free case consultation: 561.717.0817.

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