Florida Senate - 2012 (NP) SB 10 By Senator Flores 38-00123A-12 201210__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Aaron Edwards, a minor, and 3 his parents, Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards, by Lee 4 Memorial Health System of Lee County; providing for an 5 appropriation to compensate Aaron Edwards and his 6 parents for damages sustained as a result of the 7 medical negligence by employees of Lee Memorial Health 8 System of Lee County; providing a limitation on the 9 payment of fees and costs; providing an effective 10 date. 11 12 WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards’ only child, Aaron 13 Edwards, was born on September 5, 2007, at Lee Memorial 14 Hospital, and 15 WHEREAS, during Mitzi Roden’s pregnancy, Mitzi Roden and 16 Mark Edwards attended childbirth classes through Lee Memorial 17 Health System and learned of the potentially devastating effect 18 that the administration of Pitocin to augment labor may have on 19 a mother and her unborn child when not carefully and competently 20 monitored, and 21 WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards communicated directly 22 to Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker of Lee Memorial Health 23 System of their desire to have a natural childbirth, and 24 WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden enjoyed an uneventful full-term 25 pregnancy with Aaron Edwards, free from any complications, and 26 WHEREAS, on September 5, 2007, at 5:29 a.m., Mitzi Roden, 27 at 41 and 5/7 weeks’ gestation awoke to find that her membranes 28 had ruptured, and 29 WHEREAS, when Mitzi Roden presented to the hospital on the 30 morning of September 5, she was placed on a fetal monitoring 31 machine that confirmed that Aaron Edwards was doing well and in 32 very good condition, and 33 WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden tolerated well a period of labor from 34 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., but failed to progress in her labor to 35 the point of being in active labor. At that time, Nurse Midwife 36 Patricia Hunsucker informed Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards that 37 she would administer Pitocin to Mitzi in an attempt to speed up 38 the labor, but both Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards strenuously 39 objected to the administration of Pitocin because of their 40 knowledge about the potentially devastating effects it can have 41 on a mother and child, including fetal distress and even death. 42 Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards informed Nurse Midwife Patricia 43 Hunsucker that they would rather undergo a cesarean section than 44 be administered Pitocin, but in spite of their objections, Nurse 45 Midwife Patricia Hunsucker ordered that a Pitocin drip be 46 administered to Mitzi Roden at an initial dose of 3 milliunits, 47 to be increased by 3 milliunits every 30 minutes, and 48 WHEREAS, there was universal agreement by the experts 49 called to testify at the trial in this matter that the 50 administration of Pitocin over the express objections of Mitzi 51 Roden and Mark Edwards was a violation of the standard of care, 52 and 53 WHEREAS, for several hours during the afternoon of 54 September 5, 2007, the dosage of Pitocin was consistently 55 increased and Mitzi Roden began to experience contractions 56 closer than every 2 minutes at 4:50 p.m., and began to 57 experience excessive uterine contractility shortly before 6 58 p.m., which should have been recognized by any reasonably 59 competent obstetric care provider, and 60 WHEREAS, in spite of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine 61 contractility, the administration of Pitocin was inappropriately 62 increased to 13 milliunits at 6:20 p.m. by Labor and Delivery 63 Nurse Beth Jencks, which was a deviation from the acceptable 64 standard of care for obstetric health care providers because, in 65 fact, it should have been discontinued, and 66 WHEREAS, reasonable obstetric care required that Dr. 67 Duvall, the obstetrician who was ultimately responsible for 68 Mitzi Roden’s labor and delivery, be notified of Mitzi Roden’s 69 excessive uterine contractility and that she was not adequately 70 progressing in her labor, but the health care providers 71 overseeing Mitzi Roden’s labor unreasonably failed to do so, and 72 WHEREAS, in spite of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine 73 contractility, the administration of Pitocin was increased to 14 74 milliunits at 7:15 p.m., when reasonable obstetric practices 75 required that it be discontinued, and a knowledgeable obstetric 76 care provider should have known that the continued use of 77 Pitocin in the face of excessive uterine contractility posed an 78 unreasonable risk to both Mitzi Roden and Aaron Edwards, and 79 WHEREAS, Lee Memorial’s own obstetrical expert, Jeffrey 80 Phelan, M.D., testified that Mitzi Roden experienced a tetanic 81 contraction lasting longer than 90 seconds at 8:30 p.m., and Lee 82 Memorial’s own nurse midwife expert, Lynne Dollar, testified 83 that she herself would have discontinued Pitocin at 8:30 p.m., 84 and 85 WHEREAS, at 8:30 p.m., the administration of Pitocin was 86 unreasonably and inappropriately increased to 15 milliunits when 87 reasonable obstetric practices required that it be discontinued, 88 and 89 WHEREAS, at 9 p.m., Nurse Midwife Hunsucker visited Mitzi 90 Roden at bedside, but mistakenly believed that the level of 91 Pitocin remained at 9 milliunits, when, in fact, it had been 92 increased to 15 milliunits, and further, she failed to 93 appreciate and correct Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine 94 contractility, and 95 WHEREAS, Lynne Dollar acknowledged that it is below the 96 standard of care for Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker to not 97 know the correct level of Pitocin being administered to her 98 patient, Mitzi Roden, and 99 WHEREAS, at 9:30 p.m., the administration of Pitocin was 100 again unreasonably and inappropriately increased to 16 101 milliunits, when reasonable obstetric practice required that it 102 be discontinued in light of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine 103 contractility and intrauterine pressure, and 104 WHEREAS, as 9:40 p.m., Aaron Edwards could no longer 105 compensate for the increasingly intense periods of 106 hypercontractility and excessive intrauterine pressure brought 107 on by the overuse and poor management of Pitocin administration, 108 and suffered a reasonably foreseeable and predictable severe 109 episode of bradycardia, where his heart rate plummeted to life 110 endangering levels, which necessitated an emergency cesarean 111 section. Not until Aaron Edwards’ heart rate crashed at 9:40 112 p.m. did Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker consult with her 113 supervising obstetrician, Diana Duvall, M.D., having not 114 discussed with Dr. Duvall her care and treatment of Mitzi 115 Roden’s labor since 12:30 p.m. Because Dr. Duvall had not been 116 kept informed about the status of Mitzi Roden’s labor, she was 117 not on the hospital grounds at the time Aaron Edwards’ heart 118 rate crashed, and another obstetrician who was unfamiliar with 119 Mitzi Roden’s labor performed the emergency cesarean section to 120 save Aaron Edwards’ life, and 121 WHEREAS, there existed at the time of Mitzi Roden’s labor 122 and delivery a compensation system whereby a nurse midwife such 123 as Patricia Hunsucker had a financial disincentive to consult 124 with her supervising obstetrician during the period of labor, 125 and 126 WHEREAS, Lee Memorial Health System had in place at the 127 time of Mitzi Roden’s labor and delivery rules regulating the 128 use of Pitocin for the augmentation of labor which required that 129 Pitocin be discontinued immediately upon the occurrence of 130 tetanic contractions, nonreassuring fetal heart-rate patterns, 131 or contractions closer then every 2 minutes, and 132 WHEREAS, in violation of rules regulating the use of 133 Pitocin for the augmentation of labor, Labor and Delivery Nurse 134 Beth Jencks and Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker failed to 135 immediately discontinue the administration of Pitocin in the 136 face of hyperstimulated uterine contractions and excessive 137 intrauterine pressure and increased the amount of Pitocin being 138 administered to Mitzi Roden or remained completely unaware that 139 the levels of Pitocin were being repeatedly increased, and 140 WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards suffered permanent and catastrophic 141 injuries to his brain as a consequence of the acute hypoxic 142 ischemic episode at birth, and 143 WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards currently and for the remainder of 144 his life will suffer from spastic and dystonic cerebral palsy 145 and quadriparesis, rendering him totally and permanently 146 disabled, and 147 WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards currently and for the remainder of 148 his life will not be able to orally communicate other than to 149 his closest caregivers, and is entirely dependent on a computer 150 tablet communication board for speech, and 151 WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards suffers from profound physical 152 limitations affecting all four of his limbs such that he 153 requires supervision 24 hours a day and cannot feed, bathe, 154 dress, or protect himself, and 155 WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards will never be able to enter the 156 competitive job market and will require a lifetime of medical, 157 therapeutic, rehabilitation, and nursing care, and 158 WHEREAS, after a 6-week trial, a jury in Lee County 159 returned a verdict in favor of Aaron Edwards, Mitzi Roden, and 160 Mark Edwards, finding Lee Memorial Health System 100 percent 161 responsible for Aaron Edwards’ catastrophic and entirely 162 preventable injuries and awarded a total of $28,477,966.48 to 163 the Guardianship of Aaron Edwards, $1,340,000 to Mitzi Roden, 164 and $1 million to Mark Edwards, and 165 WHEREAS, the court also awarded Aaron Edwards, Mitzi Roden, 166 and Mark Edwards $174,969.65 in taxable costs, and 167 WHEREAS, Lee Memorial Health System tendered $200,000 168 toward payment of this claim, in accordance with the statutory 169 limits of liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, 170 NOW, THEREFORE, 171 172 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 173 174 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 175 found and declared to be true. 176 Section 2. Lee Memorial Health System, formerly known as 177 the Hospital Board of Directors of Lee County, is authorized and 178 directed to appropriate from funds of the county not otherwise 179 appropriated and to draw the following warrants as compensation 180 for the medical malpractice committed against Aaron Edwards and 181 Mitzi Roden: 182 (1) The sum of $28,454,838.43, payable to the Guardianship 183 of Aaron Edwards; 184 (2) The sum of $1,338,989.67, payable to Mitzi Roden; and 185 (3) The sum of $999,199.03, payable to Mark Edwards. 186 Section 3. The amount paid by Lee Memorial Health System 187 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded 188 under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for 189 all present and future claims arising out of the factual 190 situation described in this act which resulted in the injuries 191 suffered by Aaron Edwards. The total amount paid for attorney’s 192 fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating 193 to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the total amount 194 awarded under this act. 195 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.