Florida couple file medical malpractice lawsuit over allegedly botched surgery

A Florida couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical facility and doctor, claiming that a surgery resulted in nerve damage.

Knud Hostrup and Maria Luzia Hostrup filed the lawsuit against doctor Matthew E. Wells and an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center May 2, alleging medical malpractice.

The complaint alleges that Mr. Hostrup needed surgery for a right humerus fracture after suffering a fall in his home. The plaintiffs claim that the doctor’s actions caused Mr. Hostrup’s radial nerve to be trapped under a plate used to reduce the fracture, and that permanent and severe nerve damage to his right arm resulted. Metal plates are often used for internal fixation of fractures. Injury to the radial nerve can be a severe injury that may result in weakness and difficulty in moving the hand, wrist or fingers.

According to the complaint, the defendants failed to treat Mr. Hostrup’s underlying condition properly, failed to properly perform a surgical repair of his injuries, and failed to properly supervise, oversee and train the medical center’s staff. The plaintiffs claim the defendants are responsible for the injury.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, costs, interest and other appropriate relief available under the law. A jury trial is demanded.

Florida family wins $33.8 million medical malpractice award in brain injury case

A Florida family was awarded $33.8 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a judge ruled that a baby’s irreversible brain damage was caused by the decisions of a federally employed doctor.

The baby’s mother was a patient at Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami Gardens, Florida when the baby was born on December 2, 2013. Because the clinic is federally funded, the federal government is responsible for paying the award.

The mother testified that she pleaded for a cesarean section, but the doctor attending her labor and delivery refused, and left to attend another delivery. The lawsuit also claimed that the doctor was speaking on the phone with his financial adviser. The baby was not breathing when he was born, and he suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen, according to court documents. Medical experts from both the plaintiffs and the defense agreed that the brain damage could have been prevented by a cesarean section.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order that the boy, now age 3, has a life expectancy of an additional 9 to 12 years. Judge Scola awarded the mother $3.3 million and the father $1.1 million for their pain and suffering. He awarded $7.6 million for the child’s pain and suffering and $21.7 million for his economic damages. The award was not limited by Florida’s statutory cap, and will be paid in installments by the federal government.

Florida Supreme Court rules medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Florida man can pursue his medical malpractice lawsuit against his deceased wife’s primary care physician for her suicide in 2008.

The justices ruled unanimously that the case should go to trial, upholding a ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, which reversed the decision of the First District Court of Appeals granting summary judgment to the physician.

Justice Patty Quince said in writing the opinion of the court that the duty to prevent inpatient suicide did not apply to the case, but there was still a statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with the standard of care.

According to the lawsuit, Jacqueline Granicz had been prescribed an antidepressant but had stopped taking it. The day before she died, Granicz called her physician’s office to report that she had stopped taking the medication due to side effects, and that she had not “felt right,” the lawsuit claims. According to court documents, the doctor prescribed a different antidepressant and said Granicz could pick up a sample of the prescription at the office. Granicz did pick the items up, but committed suicide the following day.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that because Granicz was an outpatient, there was no duty to prevent her suicide, but the nonexistence of that specific duty does not mean the doctor owed the patient no duty. The Court said that the statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with a standard of care applied, and the foreseeability of Granicz’s suicide was a matter of fact to be decided by the jury.

Physicians’ group asks Florida Supreme Court to reconsider medical malpractice case

A doctors’ group has requested that the Florida Supreme Court reconsider its rejection of an arbitration agreement in a lawsuit involving medical malpractice.

The request was filed by attorneys for physician Eileen Hernandez and Women’s Care Florida LLC, approximately two weeks after the arbitration agreement was tossed out in a case involving a stillborn baby.

The validity of arbitration agreements in lawsuits over health care has been a controversial topic of late, with the issue being considered by Florida appeals courts. The cases typically involve a health care provider asking patients or family members to sign an agreement stating that disputes will be resolved through binding arbitration rather than a jury trial. Advocates argue that such agreements take away the rights of injured people to obtain fair compensation from providers that make serious medical mistakes.

On December 22, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an arbitration agreement between Lualhati Crespo and Women’s Care Florida. Crespo delivered a stillborn son in 2011. She and her husband filed a lawsuit in 2013 and later requested binding arbitration under a state-law process. Women’s Care Florida said the case should be governed by the arbitration agreement Crespo signed, which would lead to binding arbitration through a different process.

The justices rejected the arbitration agreement, declaring it void as against public policy, in a 5-2 decision, because terms in the agreement clearly favored the health care provider, including terms related to the selection of the arbitration panel. Women’s Care Florida, in its motion for rehearing, said the state high court had encroached on the right to contract.

Florida ranked as most dangerous state for car accidents involving pedestrians

Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians.

According to the advocacy group Smart Growth America, Florida had 5,142 pedestrian fatalities from 2005 to 2014 and a pedestrian death rate of 2.66 per 100,000 people. The group assigned Florida a high Pedestrian Danger Index of 177 by comparing data on pedestrian deaths with the number of commuters who get to work on foot.

Seven of the country’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are located in Florida, the group said. These included Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melborne-Titusville, and Cape-Coral-Fort Myers.

The director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Emiko Atherton, said that despite the poor ranking, many Florida communities had actually improved from previous studies.

The study ranked 104 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country according to the danger posed to people on foot. Researchers found that seniors and people of color were overrepresented among the pedestrian deaths. While people of color make up 34.9 percent of the national population, they accounted for 46.1 of pedestrian fatalities.

Safety experts said that there are several causes of fatal collisions involving pedestrians, including unsafe street design, poorly maintained infrastructure, speeding and driver negligence.

Multi-million dollar jury award in Florida brain injury lawsuit

A jury awarded $18 million to a Florida man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bar fight.

Joshua Mathews suffered brain injuries after a 2012 altercation at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach, Florida. Mathews fell and hit his head on the cement after being punched in the face. He filed a lawsuit against the corporation that owns the bar, alleging that there was inadequate security and bouncers encouraged the fight.

After the fight, Mathews was in a coma for two months. He is in rehabilitation and has trouble speaking. According to his attorney, Mathews has vision loss and paralysis on his right side, and also suffers from aphasia, weakness and fatigue. Mathews has to be monitored around the clock, with his family using video cameras to check on his condition even while they are at work, his attorney said. The award will allow Mathews to participate in an aphasia program to help with his speaking and allow him greater freedom of movement.

At trial in Duval County circuit court, earlier police incident reports were introduced as evidence. Mathews’ attorney said that other bars had off-duty police officers standing out front and Pete’s Bar did not. He said that a bar’s duty to its patrons extends outside its premises, and the bar was negligent in failing to provide adequate security.

Florida Supreme Court Sets Arguments in Medical Malpractice Case

The Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in December on a constitutional challenge to a 2013 medical malpractice law. The Justices agreed to take up the issue of “ex parte communications” in medical malpractice cases.

In a case filed by Emma Gayle Weaver, the representative of Thomas E. Weaver’s estate, in Escambia County, the 1st District Court of Appeal previously upheld the constitutionality of the law permitting ex parte communications.

Under the 2013 law, defense attorneys representing medical providers accused of malpractice are able to access personal medical information of the patients involved in the lawsuit outside of the presence of the patients’ attorneys. According to Weaver’s attorneys that is a violation of privacy rights. Supporters of the 2013 law said that allowing such ex parte communications is fair, because it allows defense attorneys to access information that is already available to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Before the law was passed, defense attorneys could interview doctors, but only as part of formal proceedings, with the patient’s attorneys present to protect their privacy rights. Advocates for patients said that the law stripped away privacy rights. Several lawsuits were filed challenging the legislation as soon as it was enacted, and the state high court will now decide the issue.

Florida traffic deaths on the rise

In 2012, government agencies set a goal of reducing deaths from Florida car accidents by 5 percent per year. That effort has now officially crashed.

According to preliminary numbers from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 2,939 traffic fatalities in Florida in 2015, a 17.8 percent rise over the 2014 total of 2,494.

Not only did highway deaths increase over last year, but the state failed to meet its projected decrease for the third year in a row. In 2012, Florida began its safety initiative with a baseline of 2,431 traffic fatalities, an average of the totals from 2006 to 2010. In 2013, the state had 100 more traffic fatalities than the 5 percent reduction projected, and in 2014 the total was 300 deaths over the reduction goal.

In 2015, if the 5 percent per year projection had held true, there would have been 2,084 deaths on Florida’s roads, but there were 855 more than that, so the state missed its goal by more than 40 percent.

It was no year-end surprise that traffic fatalities in Florida have been accelerating in the wrong direction. Last summer, the National Safety Council conducted an analysis that showed that there was a 29 percent increase in highway deaths in Florida, and a 14 percent increase nationally, in the first half of 2015, compared to the same six-month period in 2014.

Safety experts lay the blame on poorly-designed roads, a lack of focus on traffic safety on the part of state officials, and driver negligence.

Error rate of hospital pharmacists rises with greater workload

Errors made by pharmacists are a type of pharmaceutical negligence that can constitute medical malpractice. According to a recent study, the rate of errors made by hospital pharmacists increased significantly when their workload expanded.

The study, published in the American Journal of Health-Systems Pharmacy, examined inpatient and outpatient medication mistakes during a one-year period from July 2011 to June 2012 at a large medical center in Texas. The researchers reviewed the work of 50 pharmacists who handled over 1.9 million medication orders during that period. The study found 92 mistakes that were made during the order verification process.

The study found that when pharmacists’ workload increased, they made more mistakes. The average error rate was 4.87 mistakes per 100,000 verified orders, but the researchers found that when pharmacists had to verify more than 400 orders per shift, they committed more errors.

Of the 50 pharmacists whose work was examined as part of the study, 31 made one or more mistakes during the time period studied. More experienced pharmacists and pharmacists holding higher degrees made fewer mistakes.

When doctors and pharmacists make prescription errors that cause patients harm, the injured patients may have the right to compensation through a pharmaceutical negligence or medical malpractice lawsuit. If you suffered this type of injury, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.

Florida Supreme Court to rule on medical malpractice limits

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Florida Supreme Court, urging the court to uphold limits on damages in medical malpractice cases.

In 2003, then-Gov. Jeb Bush, along with insurance companies, doctors and hospitals, urged the state legislature to enact limits on damages for pain and suffering, arguing that the state was in a “crisis” of high rates for medical malpractice insurance. Critics at the time pointed out that victims of medical malpractice, who suffer life-changing injuries as the result of mistakes by doctors and hospitals, deserve fair compensation for their injuries, and high insurance rates are better addressed by regulation of the insurance industry.

After the legislature enacted limits on damages, the Florida Supreme Court found the limits unconstitutional in wrongful death cases, and in the summer of 2015, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that such limits were also unconstitutional in personal injury cases involving medical malpractice. The Florida Supreme Court will now decide that issue.

Bondi’s office argued that the plaintiff in the case before the court, Susan Kalitan, who suffered a perforated esophagus as the result of a medical error, failed to rebut the evidence the legislature relied on in enacting damages caps, and failed to show that there was any other way to address the “crisis” of high insurance costs. However, Kalitan’s attorneys argued in their appellate brief that the legislature could lower malpractice premiums by regulating those premiums, without affecting anyone’s constitutional rights.