Florida toddler dies of meningitis as doctors fail to diagnose

Last November, Connor Mincey was sent home sick from a childcare center in Miami, Florida. That day, his parents, Donald and Doreen Mincey, took him to a pediatrician where he was diagnosed with a cold. The pediatrician cleared the 22-month-old child to go back to daycare. Connor died on December 3.

The two weeks between Connor’s initial symptoms and his death were a “nightmare,” said Donald Mincey. The parents took Connor to urgent care and to see a pediatrician.

The Minceys took Connor to the emergency room at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital after they recorded his fever at 103 degrees. The doctors believed that Connor did not need the attention of the emergency room and suggested that they take him to a nearby urgent care instead.

Donald Mincey recalled that Connor was diagnosed with wheezing bronchitis at the urgent care center. “He’s dying in our arms,” Mincey explained, incredulous. “The doctor told us to come back in four to six days. He had lost mobility by then. He couldn’t even stand. To keep giving this child Tylenol and Motrin . . . and he’s not improving. We knew something wasn’t right.”

Soon after, when Connor’s conditioned worsened, the Minceys took him to see a pediatrician again. He told the Minceys to go back to the Nicklaus Children’s emergency room. Connor was admitted there and prescribed antibiotics. Minsey’s attorney Judd Rosen said, “From November 21 to November 28, he was never given antibiotics. We feel that antibiotics would have been able to treat the condition that Connor had.” Doctors finally diagnosed the child with pneumococcal meningitis on November 30.

Pneumococcal meningitis is an extremely infectious disease catalyzed by common bacteria spread by coughing, sneezing and contact with infected saliva or mucus.

Connor was the first of two children at the downtown Miami childcare center to die after getting sick.

Two staff members of a Florida nursing home arrested on charges of neglect

Last December, two arrests were made concerning nursing home neglect at a Williston, Florida retirement facility, the Good Samaritan. The arrests were made based on accusations of nursing home neglect.

On November 1, Betty Hurst, 72, was wandering around outside the nursing home when Sudeall found her. Earlier that night, Hurst had fallen and struck her head.

Hurst was taken back inside by Sudeall, who allegedly failed to provide first aid care. Six hours later Hurst was found unresponsive. She was transported to UF Health Shands Hospital where she died the following afternoon, police stated.

On December 7, Nenita Alfonso Sudeall, 48, an administrator at the Good Samaritan was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

According to Florida law, the liability in the case of nursing home neglect is placed on the facility administrator. The Good Samaritan nursing home is under investigation by the Florida Department of Children, the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the State Attorney’s Office.

A few days after Sudeall’s arrest, Rhaimley Yap Romero, 31, was also charged with nursing home neglect. Romero replaced Sudeall after her arrest.

A nurse gave Romero specific instructions regarding a resident’s outpatient procedure, telling him to let her know if the resident had any change in health. A staff member contacted Romero twice over the weekend to inform him of the resident’s decreasing condition. Romero allegedly failed to contact the nurse until Monday, when he was back at the nursing home.

The Good Samaritan Retirement Home went under investigation, by the Florida AHCA which reported finding the facility lacking necessary supervision and staffing as well as being unable to provide adequate care for their patients.

The AHCA has fined The Good Samaritan $73,750 for 63 deficits over the last five years. The Good Samaritan holds the most fines out of any facility in the region.

Abuse in Florida nursing homes is apparent with hidden cameras

Following the 13 deaths at a Hollywood Hills nursing home during Hurricane Irma, many families are concerned for the safety of their loved ones in the care of nursing facilities. As a result, more families are placing hidden cameras inside the nursing home rooms to see what is actually happening to elderly patients.

Recently, disturbing video recordings from a family whose loved one was in a nursing home in Pompano Beach, Florida. The 94-year-old male patient with dementia was doused in mouthwash, hit and pushed around. Blake Dolman, the attorney of the man’s family, says, “Mouthwash has alcohol in it. Guess what? He’s going to end up with ulcers and bedsores from dried out skin, and that’s exactly what happened to this man when he had stage three ulcers, that ultimately proved to be fatal.”

Due to concerns of her father’s health, the patient’s daughter placed a hidden camera in the room. The video proved to be valuable in the lawsuit. The nursing assistant who abused the man with dementia has lost her license, but no criminal charges were brought.

Other hidden camera videos show similar neglect and abuse in Florida nursing homes. In one, an employee is seen sleeping through an alarm going off in a patient’s room. Another shows a nursing assistant neglecting to fix a patient’s breathing tube, then denying that she knew about it when another assistant came to the scene.

Currently, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington allow video monitoring in nursing homes. However, the Florida Health Care Association is against the use of cameras to monitor nursing home patients.

FHP trooper hit by drunk driver while investigating previous accident

Late last year, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Daniel Cruz, was investigating an earlier accident scene when he was hit by a drunk driver.

At around 1 a.m. on Okeechobee Road, John Bencosme, 26, of Miami, was driving his Hyundai Velastar while intoxicated. He crashed into the cars from the previous accident, which made a Hyundai Elantra turn and hit Cruz. The trooper was thrown several feet through the air.

Accordire scared to be hit by a car than to be shot out there while they are performing their duties.” ng to troopers Bencosme’s breath smelled of alcohol prompting them to conduct field sobriety tests. Bencosme’s blood alcohol level was .201, which is twice the legal driving limit. On top of facing a charge of driving under the influence, Bencosme has been charged with causing serious personal injury.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said, “Our roads have gotten to the point where troopers are mo

According to Troopers, Cruz suffered from injured leg ligaments as well as a small broken back bone. After the accident he was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where he was in critical but stable condition.

In Florida medical malpractice lawsuits rarely lead to disclipline

Medical malpractice cases in Florida have consistently been seen as an issue, but the state health officals rarely take any action against doctors. Under the law, doctors must report all malpractice lawsuits even when closed. However, little action is being taken towards getting these dangerous doctors out of practice.

Florida lawmakers have called this situation a “medical malpractice crisis.” In 1988 a state law placed a limit on the amount of damages patients could receive against doctors in court and created a division to regulate doctors.

However, lawyers who have participated in malpractice lawsuits across Florida claim that they are not usually contacted by the state Department of Health once a case has been settled. Some attorneys say they have even given up on the state to take action agaisnt these doctors.

Over five years, Dr. Pachavit Kasemsap has owed almost $3 million in five different medical malpractice cases. In one case, Kasemsap sliced an artery to Christine Murray’s liver while performing gallbladder surgery. A jury ruled that doctor was negligent and ordered him to pay Murray $600,000. However, the doctor did not face any state disciplinary action for his negligent behavior.

The health deparmtnet is required to review all malpractice lawsuits against Florida doctors to identify and discipline them. However, an investigation by the Sun Sentinel found that the deartment’s reviews infrequently lead to punishment.

Dr. Ata Atogho, in the midst of delivering a baby with a weak heart, decided to speak with his stockbroker for eight minutes. Though he knew that the baby needed extra help, he did not perform a caesarian section. As a result the child was born with extreme brain damage. He is now bedridden and requires 24 hour care. Atogho had written in the medical record that the mother did not want a C-section. The nurse claimed that this was a lie and that the mother pleaded multiple times for the emergency procedure.

Though Atogho had three other lawsuits from negligent deliveries in 2013, he has received no disciplinary action and can still deliver babies in Florida.

Florida Supreme Court eliminates parts of 2013 medical malpractice law

On November 9, the Florida Supreme Court found itself disunited. The court rejected multiple aspects of a 2013 medical-malpractice law because the changes “have gashed Florida’s constitutional right to privacy.”

Pieces of the 2013 law, justices said, could potentially allow for patients’ medical information to be disclosed even if it does not relate to the malpractice cases. The 2013 law dealt with problems in the process in which defense attorneys gather information in medical malpractice cases and their “ex parte” communications with plaintiffs’ doctors.

“Ex parte” communications are conversations between defense attorneys and the doctors surrounding the patient’s treatment. The 2013 law allowed these types of discussions to occur without the presence of plaintiffs’ attorneys. In ex parte communications where a judge is not present, communication is undocumented and could result in patient privacy violations.

Florida’s Constitution protects its citizens against violations of privacy to plaintiffs because the ex parte discussions were unrecorded and without the presence of plaintiffs’ attorneys. Based on this interpretation of the Florida Constitution, Justice R. Fred Lewis believed that this 2013 malpractice law was unconstitutional. Justice Lewis was joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in the voting to strike down parts of the law.

However, Justice Charles Canady does not see the law as unconstitutional. He believes that Lewis’s opinion is an “unwarranted interference with the Legislature’s authority.”

Those who support the 2013 law along with Canady argue that these ex parte conversations can generate further information surrounding medical malpractice claims, leading to resolutions before the cases go to trial.

The Supreme Court’s decision, on November 9, overturned the decision made by the First District Court of Appeal.

Florida local sues Whitehall nursing home for negligence

A nursing home neglect lawsuit has been filed against a Florida facility, with the plaintiff claiming his care was so poor that he needed additional surgery and medication.

Ross Bayer, 66, was in a landscaping accident over seven months ago that resulted in breaking both of his feet. He was instructed to go through two months of physical therapy and to cover his feet with fresh bandages daily. Rather than staying at home, Bayer stayed at Whitehall nursing home located in Boca Raton, Florida to get the care he needed.

Two weeks later, Bayer called his wife who was out of state with ill parents to get him out of the home. He complained of “horrendous pain” and claimed that the nurses at Whitehall nursing home only changed his bandages once a week even though he begged them to be replaced daily as instructed by the doctors. Once he decided that he was better off at home, he asked Whitehall to send him his medical charts for a better explanation for his lack of care.

Whitehall never sent the documents to him, Bayer claims. He reached out to an attorney for help. Again, requests were put through for Whitehall to send over Bayer’s medical records. Even though months have gone by since Bayer left Whitehall, the documents have not been received, according to Bayer. Due to the alleged negligence while at the nursing home as well as never receiving his medical records, Bayer has filed a lawsuit.

As a result of his time at Whitehall nursing home, Bayer says he now needs additional surgery and treatment for his injuries.

Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of Florida nursing home resident who died after Hurricane Irma

The family of Miguel Antonio Franco has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the south Florida nursing home where he and 10 other elderly residents died after Hurricane Irma. The hurricane struck on September 10 leaving the facility without air conditioning for days.

The lawsuit claims that The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills failed to provide proper air conditioning, causing residents to endure high temperatures after electrical power was lost. The complaint also alleges that the facility failed to call for emergency assistance. The family claims that Miguel Franco’s wife, Cecilia Franco, also did not receive proper care. She was hospitalized in serious condition, but survived, the family said. Miguel Franco was 93 and Cecilia Franco is 90.

Facility officials say they took steps to provide cooling devices and maintained constant contact with local and state authorities.

The family of Miguel Franco said that his death was preventable, and the facility should have called 911. The Hollywood Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation, and other probes are underway by federal and state agencies.

The lawsuit states that the nursing home lost power after the hurricane hit on September 10, and the facility did not have backup generators to keep the building cool. According to the complaint, nursing home staff failed to evacuate patients to the hospital across the street, but instead wheeled several residents into the hallway, undressing some of them. At 1:30 a.m. on September 13, a 911 call was placed after a resident went into cardiac distress, and over the next few hours, two other calls were made to 911. The office of Gov. Rick Scott said the calls came too late. State and city officials say they advised the facility to call 911 if the safety or health of the residents was at risk.

Attorney for Aaron Hernandez’s daughter files lawsuit against NFL over severe brain injury

Aaron Hernandez’s daughter has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots, after the former football player was diagnosed postmortem with State III chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Hernandez was a standout University of Florida football player before playing for the Patriots. He was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, found guilty in 2015, and sentenced to life in prison. He committed suicide in prison in April.

Jose Baez, the attorney for Hernandez’s daughter, said that researchers found Hernandez’s CTE to be “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Hernandez had a level of CTE normally found in players with a median age of death of 67 years. Baez released images of Hernandez’s brain showing extensive deposits of the tau protein, a strong indicator of CTE. More than 100 deceased NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death. Hernandez is one of several players who were diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide.

The lawsuit claims the team and the league misrepresented and concealed the risk to NFL players of repeated traumatic head impacts and needlessly delayed the adoption of policies and rules to protect players’ safety with regard to concussions and subconcussive head trauma. The lawsuit seeks $20 million and alleges that the defendants deprived Hernandez’s daughter of the companionship, affection, love and society of her father while he was alive.

In 2013, the NFL reached an estimated $1 billion settlement over brain injuries among thousands of retired players, agreeing to pay compensation to victims, underwrite research and fund medical exams.

Florida pill mill operator sentenced to six years in prison

A Florida “pill mill” operator was sentenced to six years in federal prison, after prosecutors said he made “exceptional” efforts to help investigators, which led to convictions of other people involved in illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

Pasquale Gervasio who helped run pain clinics in Florida, which were raided in 2011, pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy. Between March 2010 and June 2011, the clinics distributed over two million doses of oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller.

Gervasio was facing up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended his sentence be reduced after he provided help to the prosecution. Their recommendation was followed by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Earlier this year, Gervasio provided testimony against his former business partner Richard McMillan, at his trial on state charges. McMillan was convicted and is serving a 35-year sentence in state prison for racketeering and drug trafficking.

Gervasio and McMillan ran a chain of pain clinics known as Total Medical Express. Gervasio provided information to prosecutors and law enforcement that led to arrests and convictions. He also agreed to pay restitution of about $1.6 million. According to court records, he has already turned over funds in excess of $600,000.

The illegal distribution of prescription drugs can cause severe harm to individuals who may be suffering from addiction. Operators of pill mills, in addition to being criminally prosecuted, may face civil lawsuits for money damages filed by people harmed by their actions. Anyone who has been injured because of improper prescription or distribution of medication should contact an attorney to learn more about their rights.