In a major legal victory for Rush Limbaugh, a circuit judge in Florida has ruled state prosecutors cannot ask the radio talk-show host’s doctors about his medical treatment and condition or information he shared with his doctors during his care.
The decision could hamper efforts by State Attorney Barry Krischer, a Democrat, to continue his investigation related to Limbaugh’s use of painkillers.
Judge David F. Crow is prohibiting prosecutors from questioning Limbaugh’s doctors about “the medical condition of the patient and any information disclosed to the health-care practitioner by the patient in the course of the care and treatment of the patient.”
“We are pleased with the court’s ruling upholding the patient’s statutory right of doctor-patient confidentiality,” Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, said. “We’ve said from the start that there was no doctor shopping but Mr. Limbaugh should not have to give up his right to doctor-patient confidentiality to prove his innocence.
“The medical records that the state has seized and reviewed now for nearly six months show that Mr. Limbaugh received legitimate medical treatment for legitimate medical reasons. Mr. Limbaugh has not been charged with a crime and he should not be charged.”
Limbaugh admitted on the air in 2003 he had become addicted to prescription drugs he was taking for severe back pain, and he subsequently took himself off the air while he underwent rehabilitation.
The state was probing suspicions the host had received multiple prescriptions from more than one doctor.
In a previous court hearing, Assistant State Attorney James Martz told the judge the state needed to ask Limbaugh’s doctors basic questions to investigate if indeed a crime had been committed.
“I have no idea if Mr. Limbaugh has completed the elements of any offense yet … unless we can ask several pertinent questions,” Martz said at the time.
Prosecutors can still subpoena the doctors as part of their probe.
“We had requested to subpoena a number of medical doctors or staff in our ongoing investigation,” Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for Krischer told the Associated Press. “The court allowed us to proceed, within the constraints of present law.”
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