Florida Senate - 2012                       (NP)    CS for SB 10
       By the Committee on Rules; and Senator Flores
       595-04180-12                                            201210c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Aaron Edwards, a minor, by
    3         Lee Memorial Health System of Lee County; providing
    4         for an appropriation to compensate Aaron Edwards for
    5         damages sustained as a result of the medical
    6         negligence by employees of Lee Memorial Health System
    7         of Lee County; providing a limitation on the payment
    8         of fees and costs; providing an effective date.
   10         WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards’ only child, Aaron
   11  Edwards, was born on September 5, 2007, at Lee Memorial
   12  Hospital, and
   13         WHEREAS, during Mitzi Roden’s pregnancy, Mitzi Roden and
   14  Mark Edwards attended childbirth classes through Lee Memorial
   15  Health System and learned of the potentially devastating effect
   16  that the administration of Pitocin to augment labor may have on
   17  a mother and her unborn child when not carefully and competently
   18  monitored, and
   19         WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards communicated directly
   20  to Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker of Lee Memorial Health
   21  System of their desire to have a natural childbirth, and
   22         WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden enjoyed an uneventful full-term
   23  pregnancy with Aaron Edwards, free from any complications, and
   24         WHEREAS, on September 5, 2007, at 5:29 a.m., Mitzi Roden,
   25  at 41 and 5/7 weeks’ gestation awoke to find that her membranes
   26  had ruptured, and
   27         WHEREAS, when Mitzi Roden presented to the hospital on the
   28  morning of September 5, she was placed on a fetal monitoring
   29  machine that confirmed that Aaron Edwards was doing well and in
   30  very good condition, and
   31         WHEREAS, Mitzi Roden tolerated well a period of labor from
   32  9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., but failed to progress in her labor to
   33  the point of being in active labor. At that time, Nurse Midwife
   34  Patricia Hunsucker informed Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards that
   35  she would administer Pitocin to Mitzi in an attempt to speed up
   36  the labor, but both Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards strenuously
   37  objected to the administration of Pitocin because of their
   38  knowledge about the potentially devastating effects it can have
   39  on a mother and child, including fetal distress and even death.
   40  Mitzi Roden and Mark Edwards informed Nurse Midwife Patricia
   41  Hunsucker that they would rather undergo a cesarean section than
   42  be administered Pitocin, but in spite of their objections, Nurse
   43  Midwife Patricia Hunsucker ordered that a Pitocin drip be
   44  administered to Mitzi Roden at an initial dose of 3 milliunits,
   45  to be increased by 3 milliunits every 30 minutes, and
   46         WHEREAS, there was universal agreement by the experts
   47  called to testify at the trial in this matter that the
   48  administration of Pitocin over the express objections of Mitzi
   49  Roden and Mark Edwards was a violation of the standard of care,
   50  and
   51         WHEREAS, for several hours during the afternoon of
   52  September 5, 2007, the dosage of Pitocin was consistently
   53  increased and Mitzi Roden began to experience contractions
   54  closer than every 2 minutes at 4:50 p.m., and began to
   55  experience excessive uterine contractility shortly before 6
   56  p.m., which should have been recognized by any reasonably
   57  competent obstetric care provider, and
   58         WHEREAS, in spite of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine
   59  contractility, the administration of Pitocin was inappropriately
   60  increased to 13 milliunits at 6:20 p.m. by Labor and Delivery
   61  Nurse Beth Jencks, which was a deviation from the acceptable
   62  standard of care for obstetric health care providers because, in
   63  fact, it should have been discontinued, and
   64         WHEREAS, reasonable obstetric care required that Dr.
   65  Duvall, the obstetrician who was ultimately responsible for
   66  Mitzi Roden’s labor and delivery, be notified of Mitzi Roden’s
   67  excessive uterine contractility and that she was not adequately
   68  progressing in her labor, but the health care providers
   69  overseeing Mitzi Roden’s labor unreasonably failed to do so, and
   70         WHEREAS, in spite of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine
   71  contractility, the administration of Pitocin was increased to 14
   72  milliunits at 7:15 p.m., when reasonable obstetric practices
   73  required that it be discontinued, and a knowledgeable obstetric
   74  care provider should have known that the continued use of
   75  Pitocin in the face of excessive uterine contractility posed an
   76  unreasonable risk to both Mitzi Roden and Aaron Edwards, and
   77         WHEREAS, Lee Memorial’s own obstetrical expert, Jeffrey
   78  Phelan, M.D., testified that Mitzi Roden experienced a tetanic
   79  contraction lasting longer than 90 seconds at 8:30 p.m., and Lee
   80  Memorial’s own nurse midwife expert, Lynne Dollar, testified
   81  that she herself would have discontinued Pitocin at 8:30 p.m.,
   82  and
   83         WHEREAS, at 8:30 p.m., the administration of Pitocin was
   84  unreasonably and inappropriately increased to 15 milliunits when
   85  reasonable obstetric practices required that it be discontinued,
   86  and
   87         WHEREAS, at 9 p.m., Nurse Midwife Hunsucker visited Mitzi
   88  Roden at bedside, but mistakenly believed that the level of
   89  Pitocin remained at 9 milliunits, when, in fact, it had been
   90  increased to 15 milliunits, and further, she failed to
   91  appreciate and correct Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine
   92  contractility, and
   93         WHEREAS, Lynne Dollar acknowledged that it is below the
   94  standard of care for Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker to not
   95  know the correct level of Pitocin being administered to her
   96  patient, Mitzi Roden, and
   97         WHEREAS, at 9:30 p.m., the administration of Pitocin was
   98  again unreasonably and inappropriately increased to 16
   99  milliunits, when reasonable obstetric practice required that it
  100  be discontinued in light of Mitzi Roden’s excessive uterine
  101  contractility and intrauterine pressure, and
  102         WHEREAS, as 9:40 p.m., Aaron Edwards could no longer
  103  compensate for the increasingly intense periods of
  104  hypercontractility and excessive intrauterine pressure brought
  105  on by the overuse and poor management of Pitocin administration,
  106  and suffered a reasonably foreseeable and predictable severe
  107  episode of bradycardia, where his heart rate plummeted to life
  108  endangering levels, which necessitated an emergency cesarean
  109  section. Not until Aaron Edwards’ heart rate crashed at 9:40
  110  p.m. did Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker consult with her
  111  supervising obstetrician, Diana Duvall, M.D., having not
  112  discussed with Dr. Duvall her care and treatment of Mitzi
  113  Roden’s labor since 12:30 p.m. Because Dr. Duvall had not been
  114  kept informed about the status of Mitzi Roden’s labor, she was
  115  not on the hospital grounds at the time Aaron Edwards’ heart
  116  rate crashed, and another obstetrician who was unfamiliar with
  117  Mitzi Roden’s labor performed the emergency cesarean section to
  118  save Aaron Edwards’ life, and
  119         WHEREAS, there existed at the time of Mitzi Roden’s labor
  120  and delivery a compensation system whereby a nurse midwife such
  121  as Patricia Hunsucker had a financial disincentive to consult
  122  with her supervising obstetrician during the period of labor,
  123  and
  124         WHEREAS, Lee Memorial Health System had in place at the
  125  time of Mitzi Roden’s labor and delivery rules regulating the
  126  use of Pitocin for the augmentation of labor which required that
  127  Pitocin be discontinued immediately upon the occurrence of
  128  tetanic contractions, nonreassuring fetal heart-rate patterns,
  129  or contractions closer then every 2 minutes, and
  130         WHEREAS, in violation of rules regulating the use of
  131  Pitocin for the augmentation of labor, Labor and Delivery Nurse
  132  Beth Jencks and Nurse Midwife Patricia Hunsucker failed to
  133  immediately discontinue the administration of Pitocin in the
  134  face of hyperstimulated uterine contractions and excessive
  135  intrauterine pressure and increased the amount of Pitocin being
  136  administered to Mitzi Roden or remained completely unaware that
  137  the levels of Pitocin were being repeatedly increased, and
  138         WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards suffered permanent and catastrophic
  139  injuries to his brain as a consequence of the acute hypoxic
  140  ischemic episode at birth, and
  141         WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards currently and for the remainder of
  142  his life will suffer from spastic and dystonic cerebral palsy
  143  and quadriparesis, rendering him totally and permanently
  144  disabled, and
  145         WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards currently and for the remainder of
  146  his life will not be able to orally communicate other than to
  147  his closest caregivers, and is entirely dependent on a computer
  148  tablet communication board for speech, and
  149         WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards suffers from profound physical
  150  limitations affecting all four of his limbs such that he
  151  requires supervision 24 hours a day and cannot feed, bathe,
  152  dress, or protect himself, and
  153         WHEREAS, Aaron Edwards will never be able to enter the
  154  competitive job market and will require a lifetime of medical,
  155  therapeutic, rehabilitation, and nursing care, and
  156         WHEREAS, after a 6-week trial, a jury in Lee County
  157  returned a verdict in favor of Aaron Edwards, Mitzi Roden, and
  158  Mark Edwards, finding Lee Memorial Health System 100 percent
  159  responsible for Aaron Edwards’ catastrophic and entirely
  160  preventable injuries and awarded a total of $28,477,966.48 to
  161  the Guardianship of Aaron Edwards, $1,340,000 to Mitzi Roden,
  162  and $1 million to Mark Edwards, and
  163         WHEREAS, the court also awarded Aaron Edwards, Mitzi Roden,
  164  and Mark Edwards $174,969.65 in taxable costs, and
  165         WHEREAS, Lee Memorial Health System tendered $200,000
  166  toward payment of this claim, in accordance with the statutory
  167  limits of liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
  170  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  172         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
  173  found and declared to be true.
  174         Section 2. Lee Memorial Health System, formerly known as
  175  the Hospital Board of Directors of Lee County, is authorized and
  176  directed to appropriate from funds not otherwise appropriated
  177  and to draw a warrant as compensation for the injuries suffered
  178  by Aaron Edwards in the sum of $15 million payable to the
  179  Guardianship of Aaron Edwards to be placed in a special needs
  180  trust created for the exclusive use and benefit of Aaron
  181  Edwards, a minor.
  182         Section 3. The amount paid by Lee Memorial Health System
  183  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
  184  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
  185  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
  186  situation described in this act which resulted in the injuries
  187  suffered by Aaron Edwards. The total amount paid for attorney
  188  fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating
  189  to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded
  190  under this act.
  191         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.