Florida appeals court sides with Tampa General Hospital in medical malpractice case

An appeals court upheld a ruling shielding Tampa General Hospital from potential medical malpractice liability in a case over a patient who died during surgery.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by a circuit judge granting summary judgment to Tampa General Hospital. The appeals court agreed with the judge on the central issue of whether two doctors involved in the surgery were connected to the hospital. Tampa General argued that the doctors were employed by the University of South Florida, and the hospital had delegated its duty of care and any potential liability to the university. The university’s College of Medicine uses Tampa General as its primary teaching hospital.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Annie Godwin against the university, Tampa General, and the two physicians, after Godwin died during surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in 2009. Godwin died due to heavy bleeding after she suffered a tear in a vein.

According to the three-judge appeals panel, there were no disputed facts undermining the conclusion of the trial court that the doctors were not employees or agents of Tampa General Hospital. The appeals court said that the physicians were employees of USF, and Godwin had signed a document acknowledging that fact.