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Florida court rules medical malpractice suit may move forward

The mother of a girl who may have been the victim of medical malpractice received some good news recently. A Florida appeals court has ruled she may go forward with her lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital. The decision follows a similar ruling by a Florida trial court regarding the possible medical malpractice.

The girl, born in 1996, has had medical problems her entire life. When she was born, she had to undergo surgery for a life-threatening gastric perforation. Three years later, the girl was rushed to the emergency room in Jackson due to a gangrene infection that cut off the blood from her extremities. In order to save her life, the doctors had to amputate her arms and legs.

However, the mother alleges that the doctors did not act quickly enough in the first 90 minutes of her daughter's arrival to the emergency room. Her suit against Jackson says that if the doctors had reacted more appropriately, her daughter's limbs would not have required amputation. Another lawsuit against Memorial Regional Hospital was settled for $200,000.

Under Florida law, the cap for which the state can be found liable is $200,000. Because Jackson and Memorial are both state hospitals, Jackson claims the mother had already reached the maximum amount allowed by law. However, the appeals court rejected this argument, saying that Jackson did not prove the alleged negligence of the hospitals arose from the same conduct. Jackson also claimed immunity under the Good Samaritan Act, but the court said this was a fact-specific offense for which the hospital would have an affirmative burden of proof at trial.

Source: The Courthouse News Service, "Hospitals Still Face Suit for Limb Amputations," Jeff D. Gorman, Oct. 4, 2011

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