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.
   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,
  172  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  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.