Florida 'three strikes' malpractice rule being challenged

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Talk about a tough set of malpractice rules. Doctors pushing for medical malpractice reform might consider themselves lucky if they saw the playing field in Florida, where a constitutional amendment was approved in 2004 allowing the state to yank doctors' licenses if found guilty of three instances of medical negligence.

Now, however, a trial lawyer in Orlando, having filed a medical liability lawsuit, is using it as a means to challenge the constitutional amendment. The plaintiff's attorney argues that a 2005 law putting the amendment into effect, which raised the standard for a strike to "clear and convincing evidence" rather than the civil standard of "preponderance of evidence," weakened the standards so much that it's almost impossible for a doctor to be slapped with a violation.

The new lawsuit asks the trial court to declare the 2005 law unconstitutional, claiming it conflicts with the purpose of the amendment, attorney Scott McMillen says. The 2005 law, which sets negligence standards at the same level used by state medical boards in reviews, doesn't truly enact the amendment as intended.

To learn more about this case:
- read this American Medical News piece

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