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