A “glitch bill” passed both houses of the Florida Legislature this week which, if signed into law by the governor, provides answers and certainty to many of the questions posed by a 2020 piece of legislation forbidding physicians and other healthcare providers from conducting pelvic exams on patients without written consent.
Florida Medical Association General Counsel Jeff Scott said in a video press release that the “confusion was profound” following passage of the 2020 bill. He said the Department of Health “refused to provide any guidance.”
The new bill, Senate Bill (SB) 716, redefines restrictions on “pelvic exam” as only applying to the manual examination of the organs of the female reproductive system. It does not apply to males. It also does not apply to visual assessment, diagnostic imaging or non-diagnostic medical or surgical procedures. Written consent is only needed for anesthetized or unconscious patients. If the patient is conscious, verbal permission is required, even if written permission was obtained.
SB 716 clarified exemptions including for what Scott called the “confusing and unnecessarily restrictive” emergency services exemptions of the 2020 legislation. Under the new bill exemptions apply for those needing emergency care and services or if the patient has an emergency medical condition.
New exemptions are included for child protective investigations and when an exam is administered pursuant to certain criminal investigations.
If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, SB 716 goes into effect July 1, 2021.