In Florida, claims against public hospitals for medical malpractice injuries are capped at $200,000 per case, although it is increasing to $300,000 this year. However, in many cases the sums are not enough to compensate victims and their families. The mother of one Florida boy is discovering this first hand. Her son suffers from cerebral palsy because of birth injuries caused by medical malpractice.

In 1997, she was in labor when she was given the drug Pitocen to induce contractions. However, the staff did not monitor the dosage and increased it repeatedly. As a result, she began suffering severe contractions. The blood supply and oxygen flow to the baby was cut off. Only an emergency C-section saved the child’s life.

She and her ex-husband were awarded $30 million in a medical malpractice suit against the Lee County Memorial Health System four years ago. The damage amount has been upheld by an appeals court. Unfortunately, collecting the amount beyond the initial $200,000 has proved frustrating.

In order to collect on claims beyond what Florida law allows, a claims bill must be introduced and passed by the Florida State legislature. If approved, the bill is then sent to the governor for a signature. The mother has gotten her local state representative to introduce the claims bill for the second year in a row.

The Lee County Memorial Health System is vigorously lobbying against the claims bill. The health care system claims they enjoy sovereign immunity, which prevents any claim for damages against health care system. In addition, the Florida legislature only acts on a small fraction of claims bills each year. It remains to be seen if they will provide the family some measure of relief this year.

Source: Naples News, “Family seeks Legislature’s help in receiving $30 million judgment vs. Lee Memorial,” Liz Freeman, Sep 16, 2011