By Tim Evans, ESPN.comThe days when a doctor can walk into your Florida home and take your calls are numbered.
On Thursday, Florida lawmakers approved legislation that would require all doctors to obtain a warrant before calling on patients in a medical emergency.
Florida has one of the nation’s highest rate of physician calls per capita, with a doctor calling more than twice as often as any other state, according to a report from the American Medical Association.
Florida is second only to Georgia, where doctors are calling on an average of more than 3,000 patients per day.
Doctors say they must be vigilant when it comes to patients’ safety and privacy.
Doctors who refuse to comply with state legislation could face fines or jail time, and the bill requires that doctors not make calls to patients who are not authorized to see them.
A patient who receives a doctor’s emergency call is legally entitled to an answer, according the bill, which will go into effect in a matter of weeks.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Matt Gaetz, said the measure would protect Florida’s physicians from the threats that doctors make in emergency situations.
The bill is intended to provide a safer environment for doctors, Gaetz said.
“We don’t want doctors to be at the mercy of a threat that they’re not supposed to make,” Gaetz told reporters Thursday.
“We want them to have a clear line of authority to make decisions about what they’re doing.”
Georgia’s law requires physicians to have valid reasons to make a medical call, including a patient’s health, the seriousness of the emergency and the likelihood of harm to others.
If the doctor makes a valid emergency call, the state law also allows the patient to have the call monitored by a third party.
“I want doctors and patients to know that they have a legal obligation to follow the law and follow the protocol,” Gaetze said.