Two new bills addressing malpractice reform issues have been passed by the Florida legislature and are currently awaiting the signature of Governor Rick Scott.
Among the new provisions contained in HB 479 is the requirement that physicians (MDs or DOs) and dentists licensed in another state must obtain an expert witness certificate before providing expert testimony in Florida, and that experts witnesses (whether licensed in the state or those with a expert witness certificate) may be disciplined by the Boards of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, and Dentistry if they provide deceptive or fraudulent testimony. The bill also protects volunteer school sports team physicians when they gratuitously render care at a school athletic event. Such practitioners are immune from lawsuits arising from those events.
The second bill is aimed at reforming Florida’s Medicaid program by shifting to a managed-care model. One of the provisions in the bill also targets damages from malpractice lawsuits. The bill caps non-economic liability damages (i.e., pain and suffering awards) for Medicaid recipients at $200,000 for individuals and $300,000 per incident.