A woman was admitted to the hospital due to complications related to her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was scheduled to have x-rays. She was transported from her room to the radiology floor. Prior to the x-rays being taken, hospital employees moved the woman from the transport gurney and lifted her onto the x-ray table. The hospital employees accidentally dropped her onto the x-ray table fracturing her lumbar spine. Because of her age, medical condition, and other factors, the treatment options for the lumbar fracture were limited. Her condition deteriorated until she died.
The personal representative of the woman's estate filed a complaint against the hospital for wrongful death. The hospital moved to dismiss the complaint, alleging that the estate failed to comply with the pre-suit requirements of Florida’s medical negligence statutes. The statute defined a claim for medical negligence as a claim, arising out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services. Fla. Stat. § 766.106(1)(a).
The Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, dismissed the complaint based on the failure to comply with the medical negligence pre-suit requirements. The estate appealed arguing that the trial court erred by applying Florida’s medical negligence statutes to the complaint because the complaint stated a claim of simple negligence.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed. The court held that the woman was injured as a result of medical negligence, thus the pre-suit requirements of Florida’s medical negligence statutes applied to the estate’s wrongful death suit.
The woman was injured as a result of medical negligence. A claim for negligence is subject to Florida’s medical negligence statutes’ pre-suit requirements whem the wrongful act was directly related to the improper application of medical services and the use of professional judgment or skill. When determining whether a complaint alleges a cause of action in medical negligence versus simple negligence, courts consider whether the action arises out of medical diagnosis, treatment, or care. The court reasoned that the action arose out of medical treatment because the woman was in the hospital being treated for her COPD and during the course of her treatment, she was dropped and injured. The court noted that the negligent employees’ job titles or responsibilities were not determinative, as the complaint itself implied that they were engaged in the rendering of medical care or services in that they were involved in lifting the woman from the transport gurney and placing her on the x-ray table as part of a medical procedure.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed the trial court’s dismissal for failure to comply with the pre-suit requirements of Florida’s medical negligence statutes.
See: Buck v. Columbia Hosp. Corp. of South Broward, 2014 WL 4426480 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., September 10, 2014) (not designated for publication).