Family Fights to Change Florida Medical Malpractice Law

Jane Muino’s 11-year-old son Charlie cannot walk or talk. He was born prematurely at only 26 weeks, but Muino says his initial brain scans and tests showed no signs of any developmental or other disabilities. Less than a month later, the newborn suffered four hospital-acquired infections that led to permanent brain damage, which affected Charlie’s development. A brain scan after the infections showed extensive brain damage, and a hospital report on the second scan indicated that changes between the two scans were “dramatic.”

Muino tried to sue the hospital for medical malpractice, but lawyers dropped her case because Florida Hospital, formerly University Community Hospital, had expert testimony that would claim Charlie had pre-existing brain damage that was unrelated to the infections. Muino tried to get copies of the original, normal brain scan, but alleges that the hospital denied having any such records. She had paperwork showing that the scan existed, but still the hospital claimed it did not. For years, Muino requested that the hospital release the records. She finally received a copy of the scan eight years later. By that time, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit had passed.

Florida Medical Malpractice Law

In general, Florida law states that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of discovering the injury, and this must be within four years of the actual date of the injury. In cases where provable fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation occur on the part of a health care provider, plaintiffs receive additional time to file a claim, but this still limits the absolute maximum time to file a claim at seven years.

In Muino’s case, the hospital failed to provide Charlie’s records until the seven years had passed, and now she is unable to file a lawsuit against the hospital. She believes the law should be changed. Currently, a doctor who fails to maintain adequate patient records is subject to fines, but Muino wants penalties to include criminal charges. She and her lawyer are fighting to change the law, not because it can help in Charlie’s case, but because she does not want other families to be silenced by a system that protects negligent health care providers at the expense of families and their loved ones. Muino has lobbied to Florida legislators, the Florida Department of Health, and even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and demonstrated with other supporters in front of Florida Hospital to advocate for patients like Charlie. Representative Shawn Harrison’s staff commented that it is looking into draft legislation to help protect the legal rights of patients, but no further details have been reported at this time.

Have You or a Loved One Been Harmed by a Hospital or Doctor’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries after a medical procedure due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more, but you must settle or file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Experienced medical malpractice lawyer John Piccin at Piccin & Glynn has handled medical malpractice cases for decades, and he can help you too.  Call John at 800-969-5446 or 352-351-5446 for your free initial case consultation today.

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