IT'S ALL FREE! Florida Expert Statutes Revisions

Florida's expert statutes may affect YOU - even if you're not an expert and even if you don't live in Florida. These new additions to the expert statutes may influence you if you plan to locate certain experts for Florida medical malpractices cases. And you might want to know what led to the sweeping changes in the law.

Defendants, particularly physicians, have been incensed that they couldn't report out-of-state experts to the Board of Medicine (BOM) for alleged unethical testimony. Call them "hired guns", "plaintiff prostitutes" or "defense floozies", experts from out-of-state will soon be regulated by Florida's BOM. Experts will pay $50 every two years to obtain a certificate to testify. Once certified, experts will be subject to disciplinary measures by the BOM, although exact disciplinary actions are as yet unclear.

Defense attorneys are vowing to report plaintiff experts who seem to bend their testimony a bit; plaintiff attorneys are vowing to do the same with defense experts. The stakes are big for those who testify a lot. If the BOM rules that their testimony is fraudulent or deceptive, experts won't be able to affirm that their testimony has never been disqualified; that will limit their ability to serve as experts in the future.

Because the Florida Medical Association lobbied for the revised statutes (458.3175, 459.0066, and 466.005), they apply to physicians and dentists, not nurses. Hospitals are perhaps the largest employers of nurses.  If the Florida Hospital Association lobbies for similar revisions, out of state nursing experts could be affected in the future.

Another major revision of the statutes isn't related to experts, but it will affect every medical malpractice case in Florida.  In Florida, claimants notify prospective defendants of the intent to initiate a medical malpractice suit.  Under the revised statute (766.1065), claimants must provide an authorization for all of their healthcare providers who treated the patient for two years prior to the alleged malpractice. Failure to include this authorization with the notice of intent will automatically void the claim.

The revised statutes take effect for causes of action (i.e., medical negligence) occurring on or after October 1, 2011. Since plaintiffs have at least two years to file their claims, the effects of the revised statutes won't be felt for a while. Even so, legal nurse consultants need to gear up for the implementation of the revisions. Here are few steps to consider.

* If you're a nursing expert who resides in Florida, you won't be affected by the revised statutes.

* If you're a nursing expert who resides outside of Florida, you are not subject to the revised statutes either, but stay tuned for any future updates impacting nursing expert legislation.

* If you work for a plaintiff firm, ensure that authorizations using the statute's language accompany the notice of intent to initiate a medical malpractice suit.

* If you locate experts for Florida claims and cases, ensure that out of state physicians and dentists know the requirements and costs to become certified as an expert. Some expert witnesses may choose not to testify in Florida knowing they could be reported to the BOM and disciplined.

...Katy Jones