Legal Roadblocks Thwart an Injured Child's Mother
A Florida mother whose son was allegedly injured from multiple hospital-acquired infections is calling upon state lawmakers to lengthen the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims involving children, reports a story on WTSP.com.
Jane Muino says that her son, Charlie, now 11, was born at 26 weeks but that initial tests on him showed no signs of developmental disabilities. (The tests were performed at University Community Hospital, now Florida Hospital, in Tampa.) After less than a month in the hospital, though, Charlie had come down with "four hospital-acquired infections," Muino says.
The mother's initial attempt to sue the hospital was derailed when the attorney representing her and her son dropped the case after learning that the hospital could produce expert witnesses who would testify that, as a preemie, Charlie had preexisting brain damage.
Muino needed the original brain scan to prove otherwise, but, she alleges, the hospital denied having it.
Muino fought continually for release of the scan and was eventually successful. But 8 years had passed—well past the state's normal 4-year statute of limitations and 1 year past its less restrictive 7-year limit for cases involving alleged fraud, concealment of evidence, or intentional misrepresentation.
Florida attorney John Morgan, says, "I've always been in favor of tolling the statute on medical malpractice and children until they're 18." Under certain conditions, tolling provisions, as they're known, pause or delay the usual statute of limitations, essentially extending the period during which a lawsuit can be filed.
Currently, Port Richey attorney Nicolette Nicoletti is working pro bono with Muino to pass "Charlie's Law," which would impose criminal sanctions on hospitals and other institutions that failed to maintain vital ultrasound and other patient records.
Staff from Florida Rep Shawn Harrison's office said they were exploring legislation to better protect patients.
Meanwhile, Florida Hospital, part of the Adventist Health System, issued the following statement, without addressing the Muino case specifically: "Medical records are the property of the patient. All patients have the ability to access their medical records at any time. Adventist Health System provides high-quality compassionate care to more than 4.5 million patients annually."
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Cite this: Wayne J. Guglielmo. The Case of the Missing Heart Comes to an End; More - Medscape - Jun 16, 2016.