Florida Senate - 2020 (NP) SB 10 By Senator Flores 39-00216-20 202010__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Rafael Rodriguez by the 3 Hendry County Hospital Authority; providing for an 4 appropriation to compensate Rafael Rodriguez for 5 injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of 6 employees of the Hendry County Hospital Authority; 7 providing a limitation on the payment of attorney 8 fees; providing an effective date. 9 10 WHEREAS, on September 30, 2007, Rafael Rodriguez was 11 admitted to the emergency room at Hendry Regional Medical Center 12 (HRMC), a hospital owned and operated by Hendry County Hospital 13 Authority, and was diagnosed with perforated diverticulitis, and 14 WHEREAS, general surgeon Dr. Ramon Leonard Carroll, Jr., an 15 HRMC employee, ordered treatment with IV antibiotics in lieu of 16 a colostomy, and hospitalist Dr. Hans Louis Charles, an HRMC 17 employee, acceded to Dr. Carroll’s nonsurgical care plan, and 18 WHEREAS, a CT scan of Mr. Rodriguez’s pelvis and abdomen 19 showed evidence of a perforated sigmoid diverticulum, and Dr. 20 Carroll concluded that Mr. Rodriguez’s symptoms and radiological 21 findings showed free intraperitoneal air around the colon, 22 evidencing a perforated diverticulum, and 23 WHEREAS, after 2 days of antibiotic treatment, Dr. Charles 24 sought a surgical consult with Dr. Carroll, advising him that 25 the IV antibiotics were not working to treat the perforated 26 diverticulum, and the doctors made the joint negligent decision 27 to treat Mr. Rodriguez expectantly with nonsurgical care, and 28 WHEREAS, a second CT scan of Mr. Rodriguez’s abdomen and 29 pelvis revealed a 100 percent perforation with fistula formation 30 and no resolution of the infection, and Dr. Charles and Dr. 31 Carroll agreed to continue to treat Mr. Rodriguez nonsurgically, 32 even though Dr. Charles recommended immediate surgical 33 intervention in his progress notes, and 34 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles transferred Mr. Rodriguez’s care to 35 hospitalist Dr. Prashant Barakoti, an HRMC employee, while 36 noting in his progress reports that a CT scan was done on 37 October 7, 2007, which showed a pelvic abscess 4.6 by 5.8 cm 38 with a prominent air fluid level in the pelvis, and 39 WHEREAS, despite Mr. Rodriguez having a continuing 40 infection that required ongoing medical treatment, Dr. Carroll 41 discharged Mr. Rodriguez from HRMC to his home without operating 42 on or draining the pelvic abscess, and after only 3 days, Mr. 43 Rodriguez was readmitted to the emergency room at HRMC with 44 complaints of severe middle back pain, abdominal pain, and a 45 fever, and 46 WHEREAS, Dr. Barakoti transferred care back to Dr. Charles, 47 who continued medical management and still did not recommend 48 surgical intervention, and 49 WHEREAS, Dr. Carroll performed a surgical consult, noting 50 Mr. Rodriguez’s complaints of lower back pain and fever, and 51 determined that Mr. Rodriguez had a ruptured diverticulum with 52 small abscess formation in the pelvis, and 53 WHEREAS, Dr. Carroll decided to go along with Dr. 54 Barakoti’s plan of care to merely monitor Mr. Rodriguez, failing 55 to recommend draining the abscess and surgically repairing the 56 ruptured diverticulum, and 57 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez’s blood cultures obtained while in 58 the emergency room were found to be positive for Klebsiella 59 pneumoniae, but Dr. Charles failed to recommend draining the 60 abscess and surgically repairing the ruptured diverticulum or to 61 transfer Mr. Rodriguez to another hospital for drainage and 62 surgical intervention, even with the overwhelming evidence that 63 surgical intervention was necessary, and 64 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles ordered Mr. Rodriguez to be started on 65 IV Rocephin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and Dilaudid every 4 66 to 6 hours for severe back pain and ordered additional blood 67 cultures, which came back positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae, 68 and, at the time, Mr. Rodriguez’s white blood cell count was 69 elevated at 16,400 with increased polys, and 70 WHEREAS, on October 20, 2007, Mr. Rodriguez started to 71 complain of bilateral inner thigh pain, difficulty walking, and 72 incontinence, and showed signs of a worsening neurological 73 condition, and 74 WHEREAS, an MRI machine, which would have revealed the 75 presence of the early stages of an epidural abscess, was 76 unavailable, but Dr. Charles continued to treat Mr. Rodriguez 77 medically rather than transfer him to another hospital with an 78 available MRI and surgical staff who would have surgically 79 intervened, and 80 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles failed to perform any motor or sensory 81 testing and, despite suspecting spinal stenosis, failed to 82 recommend an immediate surgical intervention or transfer to a 83 medical center with an orthopedic spine surgeon or neurosurgeon, 84 and 85 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez developed neck and low back pain 86 despite receiving narcotic pain medications and was suffering 87 from loose and bloody bowel movements, and Dr. Charles advised 88 Mr. Rodriguez that he would need to be transferred to another 89 facility but failed to arrange the transfer, and instead 90 dictated a discharge summary, planning to send Mr. Rodriguez 91 home with white cells at 19,000, a temperature of 100.6 degrees, 92 and being incapable of standing or walking, and 93 WHEREAS, hospitalist Dr. Lopez-Cespedes, another HRMC 94 employee, was present when Mr. Rodriguez felt no sensation from 95 the umbilical area down, was unable to move his lower 96 extremities, and had weak upper arm movements, and Dr. Lopez 97 Cespedes noted that Mr. Rodriguez had decreased muscle strength 98 and sensory perception and noted a positive blood culture and 99 yeast in the blood, but did not immediately arrange for Mr. 100 Rodriguez to be transferred to another facility, and 101 WHEREAS, on October 23, 2007, Mr. Rodriguez began 102 complaining of a tingling sensation in both hands, and Dr. 103 Lopez-Cespedes noted that Mr. Rodriguez was unable to move his 104 legs and continued to have significant decreased sensation to 105 the level T10-T11, and 106 WHEREAS, an MRI of Mr. Rodriguez’s lumbar spine was finally 107 performed, showing an epidural collection anteriorly to the 108 thecal sac in the thoracic spine and lumbar spine, and Mr. 109 Rodriguez was finally transferred and admitted to Jupiter 110 Medical Center under the care of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Katzman, 111 who diagnosed Mr. Rodriguez with an epidural abscess and an 112 unoperated perforated sigmoid colon, and 113 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez underwent a decompressive 114 laminectomy at C1-C6 with the evacuation of an epidural abscess, 115 an exploratory laparoscopic drainage of multiple abscesses, 116 sigmoid resection and colostomy, and small bowel resection, and 117 WHEREAS, today, Mr. Rodriguez is a quadriplegic due to the 118 failure of and delay in emergent treatment by HRMC employees, 119 and he does not have an attendant care assistant for his daily 120 activities, instead relying on a friend with an intellectual 121 disability who lives in his trailer with him and who has no 122 medical training, and 123 WHEREAS, a tort claim was filed on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez 124 in the Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial Circuit in and for 125 Hendry County, and the Hendry County Hospital Authority agreed 126 to amicably settle this matter with the entry of a consent 127 judgment in the amount of $7.6 million, and 128 WHEREAS, the Hendry County Hospital Authority has paid the 129 statutory limit of $100,000 to Mr. Rodriguez, pursuant to s. 130 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the authority has agreed to fully 131 cooperate and promote the passage of this claim bill in the 132 amount of $7.5 million, NOW, THEREFORE, 133 134 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 135 136 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 137 found and declared to be true. 138 Section 2. The Hendry County Hospital Authority is 139 authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the 140 authority not otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant in the 141 amount of $7.5 million payable to Rafael Rodriguez as 142 compensation for injuries and damages sustained as a result of 143 the negligence of employees of the Hendry County Hospital 144 Authority. 145 Section 3. The amount paid by the Hendry County Hospital 146 Authority pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 147 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 148 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 149 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 150 injuries and damages to Rafael Rodriguez. The total amount paid 151 for attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 152 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 153 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.