News & Features » News

Prescriptions for secrecy


Current bills in the Legislature would theoretically help consumers by forcing medical people to reveal mistakes. But the reports would be kept secret.

HB 1971 would establish quality-of-care monitoring of nursing homes. But a companion bill would exempt those records from the state's Sunshine Law. The reasoning? To protect patients who may give adverse personal information. But as Barbra Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation says, that could be achieved by blanking out the informant's name.

Other bills would require physicians to report incidents of spinal damage, incorrect amputations and patient deaths to the Department of Health. Again, all information is exempt from public records.

The reason is to protect the identity of the patient and encourage the reporting of information. But really the exemption only protects the doctor. Already a patient complaint against a physician does not become public record unless peer review finds it has merit. "This is adding to that layer of secrecy," Petersen says. Call her at (800) 337-3518 for more information.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.