Can This Family Change Florida Wrongful Death Laws?
Two weeks ago, we wrote a blog discussing the consequences of hospital overcrowding on patient safety. A recent story involving the parents of a woman who died due to hospital overcrowding can serve as further evidence for our point, but it can also show why Florida’s wrongful death laws can be perceived as unfair.
The 31-year-old woman died while seeking treatment at Wuesthoff Hospital in Rockledge. According to her parents, she was forced to wait in the hospital emergency room for more than 10 hours while succumbing to dangerously low blood sugar. By the time she had received treatment, it was too late. She fell into a diabetic coma and died four weeks later.
When her parents tried to file a lawsuit against the hospital, they were blocked by Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, which stipulates parents of adult children (over the age of 25 in most circumstances) cannot sue for wrongful death in cases involving medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice and the Florida Wrongful Death Act
Desperate for resolution, this woman’s parents are seeking a loophole around Florida wrongful death laws by filing a ‘tort of outrage’. A tort of outrage could hold the hospital accountable for intentional and outrageous actions that cause severe emotional distress. The lawsuit filed by this woman’s parents claim Wuesthoff Hospital was pressured by Health Management Associates (HMA), its parent company, to keep beds full even when overcrowded. In addition, the lawsuit claims doctors admitted patients who did not need care and refused to transfer them to other hospitals.
HMA oversees 70 hospitals in 50 states, and has previously been investigated by the television show 60 Minutes. According to the investigation, physicians at the hospitals claimed they were forced to meet quotas without regard as to whether patients needed care.
This is no doubt an interesting case, and readers can expect future blog updates as this wrongful death lawsuit progresses.
Shapiro Law Group is a Tampa Bay medical malpractice law firm with decades of experience helping the victims of hospital negligence find justice.