HB 965

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

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.