Florida Senate - 2022 (NP) SB 66 By Senator Pizzo 38-00166-22 202266__ 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 compensation and the payment 8 of attorney 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 the Hendry County 13 Hospital Authority, and was diagnosed with perforated 14 diverticulitis, and 15 WHEREAS, general surgeon Dr. Ramon Leonard Carroll, Jr., an 16 HRMC employee, ordered treatment with intravenous (IV) 17 antibiotics in lieu of a colostomy, and hospitalist Dr. Hans 18 Louis Charles, an HRMC employee, acceded to Dr. Carroll’s 19 nonsurgical care plan, and 20 WHEREAS, a computerized tomography (CT) scan of Mr. 21 Rodriguez’s pelvis and abdomen showed evidence of a perforated 22 sigmoid diverticulum, and Dr. Carroll concluded that Mr. 23 Rodriguez’s symptoms and radiological findings showed free 24 intraperitoneal air around the colon, evidencing a perforated 25 diverticulum, and 26 WHEREAS, after 2 days of antibiotic treatment, Dr. Charles 27 sought a surgical consult with Dr. Carroll, advising him that 28 the IV antibiotics were not working to treat the perforated 29 diverticulum, and the doctors made the joint negligent decision 30 to treat Mr. Rodriguez expectantly with nonsurgical care, and 31 WHEREAS, a second CT scan of Mr. Rodriguez’s abdomen and 32 pelvis revealed a 100 percent perforation with fistula formation 33 and no resolution of the infection, and Dr. Charles and Dr. 34 Carroll agreed to continue to treat Mr. Rodriguez nonsurgically, 35 even though Dr. Charles recommended immediate surgical 36 intervention in his progress notes, and 37 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles transferred Mr. Rodriguez’s care to 38 hospitalist Dr. Prashant Barakoti, an HRMC employee, while 39 noting in his progress reports that a CT scan was done on 40 October 7, 2007, which showed a pelvic abscess 4.6 by 5.8 41 centimeters with a prominent air fluid level in the pelvis, and 42 WHEREAS, despite Mr. Rodriguez having a continuing 43 infection that required ongoing medical treatment, Dr. Carroll 44 discharged Mr. Rodriguez from HRMC to his home without operating 45 on or draining the pelvic abscess, and after only 3 days, Mr. 46 Rodriguez was readmitted to the emergency room at HRMC with 47 complaints of severe middle back pain, abdominal pain, and a 48 fever, and 49 WHEREAS, Dr. Barakoti transferred care back to Dr. Charles, 50 who continued medical management and still did not recommend 51 surgical intervention, and 52 WHEREAS, Dr. Carroll performed a surgical consult, noting 53 Mr. Rodriguez’s complaints of lower back pain and fever, and 54 determined that Mr. Rodriguez had a ruptured diverticulum with 55 small abscess formation in the pelvis, and 56 WHEREAS, Dr. Carroll decided to go along with Dr. 57 Barakoti’s plan of care to merely monitor Mr. Rodriguez, failing 58 to recommend draining the abscess and surgically repairing the 59 ruptured diverticulum, and 60 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez’s blood cultures obtained while in 61 the emergency room were found to be positive for Klebsiella 62 pneumoniae, but Dr. Charles failed to recommend draining the 63 abscess and surgically repairing the ruptured diverticulum or to 64 transfer Mr. Rodriguez to another hospital for drainage and 65 surgical intervention, even with the overwhelming evidence that 66 surgical intervention was necessary, and 67 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles ordered Mr. Rodriguez to be started on 68 IV Rocephin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and Dilaudid every 4 69 to 6 hours for severe back pain and ordered additional blood 70 cultures, which came back positive for K. pneumoniae, and, at 71 the time, Mr. Rodriguez’s white blood cell count was elevated at 72 16,400 with increased polys, and 73 WHEREAS, on October 20, 2007, Mr. Rodriguez started to 74 complain of bilateral inner thigh pain, difficulty walking, and 75 incontinence, and showed signs of a worsening neurological 76 condition, and 77 WHEREAS, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, which 78 would have revealed the presence of the early stages of an 79 epidural abscess, was unavailable, but Dr. Charles continued to 80 treat Mr. Rodriguez medically rather than transfer him to 81 another hospital with an available MRI and surgical staff who 82 could have surgically intervened, and 83 WHEREAS, Dr. Charles failed to perform any motor or sensory 84 testing and, despite suspecting spinal stenosis, failed to 85 recommend an immediate surgical intervention or transfer Mr. 86 Rodriguez to a medical center with an orthopedic spine surgeon 87 or neurosurgeon, and 88 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez developed neck and lower back pain 89 despite receiving narcotic pain medications and was suffering 90 from loose and bloody bowel movements, and Dr. Charles advised 91 Mr. Rodriguez that he would need to be transferred to another 92 facility but failed to arrange the transfer, and instead 93 dictated a discharge summary, planning to send Mr. Rodriguez 94 home with white blood cells at 19,000, a temperature of 100.6 95 degrees, and an inability to stand or walk, and 96 WHEREAS, hospitalist Dr. Lopez-Cespedes, another HRMC 97 employee, was present when Mr. Rodriguez felt no sensation from 98 the umbilical area down, was unable to move his lower 99 extremities, and had weak upper arm movements, and Dr. Lopez 100 Cespedes noted that Mr. Rodriguez had decreased muscle strength 101 and sensory perception and noted a positive blood culture and 102 yeast in the blood, but did not immediately arrange for Mr. 103 Rodriguez to be transferred to another facility, and 104 WHEREAS, on October 23, 2007, Mr. Rodriguez began 105 complaining of a tingling sensation in both hands, and Dr. 106 Lopez-Cespedes noted that Mr. Rodriguez was unable to move his 107 legs and continued to have significant decreased sensation to 108 the level T10-T11, and 109 WHEREAS, an MRI of Mr. Rodriguez’s lumbar spine was finally 110 performed, showing an epidural collection anteriorly to the 111 thecal sac in the thoracic spine and lumbar spine, and Mr. 112 Rodriguez was finally transferred and admitted to Jupiter 113 Medical Center under the care of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Katzman, 114 who diagnosed Mr. Rodriguez with an epidural abscess and an 115 unoperated perforated sigmoid colon, and 116 WHEREAS, Mr. Rodriguez underwent a decompressive 117 laminectomy at C1-C6 with the evacuation of an epidural abscess, 118 an exploratory laparoscopic drainage of multiple abscesses, 119 sigmoid resection and colostomy, and small bowel resection, and 120 WHEREAS, today, Mr. Rodriguez is a quadriplegic due to the 121 failure of and delay in emergent treatment by HRMC employees, 122 and he does not have an attendant care assistant for his daily 123 activities, instead relying on a friend with an intellectual 124 disability who lives in his trailer with him and who has no 125 medical training, and 126 WHEREAS, a tort claim was filed on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez 127 in the Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial Circuit in and for 128 Hendry County, and the Hendry County Hospital Authority agreed 129 to amicably settle this matter with the entry of a consent 130 judgment in the amount of $7.6 million, and 131 WHEREAS, the Hendry County Hospital Authority has paid the 132 statutory limit of $100,000 to Mr. Rodriguez, pursuant to s. 133 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the authority has agreed to fully 134 cooperate and promote the passage of this claim bill in the 135 amount of $7.5 million, NOW, THEREFORE, 136 137 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 138 139 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 140 found and declared to be true. 141 Section 2. The Hendry County Hospital Authority is 142 authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the 143 authority not otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant in the 144 amount of $7.5 million payable to Rafael Rodriguez as 145 compensation for injuries and damages sustained as a result of 146 the negligence of employees of the Hendry County Hospital 147 Authority. 148 Section 3. The amount paid by the Hendry County Hospital 149 Authority pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 150 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 151 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 152 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 153 injuries and damages to Rafael Rodriguez. The total amount paid 154 for attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 155 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 156 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.