A Tampa mother wants changes to medical malpractice laws in Florida, after, she says, a hospital refused to release her son’s medical records until after it was too late to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Jane Muino’s son Charlie is 11 years old and cannot walk or talk due to brain damage. Muino said Charlie was born at 26 weeks and tests showed no indication of developmental disabilities. She said he suffered from infections acquired at the hospital, but expert witnesses for the hospital were prepared to testify that his brain damage was pre-existing.
Muino said that the original, normal brain scan would prove her case, but the hospital denied having such a scan, although she requested it numerous times. Finally, she said, after the statute of limitations had expired, the hospital found the original scan. She said it was too late to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Under Florida law, there is a four-year statute of limitations for ordinary negligence causes of action. For medical malpractice, there is a two-year statute of limitations, from the time the patient knew or should have known that an injury occurred and might have been caused by malpractice. In addition, there is a statute of repose, which bars any medical malpractice claim more than four years after the alleged malpractice occurred, unless there is fraud, concealment or misrepresentation. However, in cases of children, the statute of repose cannot cut off a claim prior to the child’s eighth birthday. Finally, in cases where fraud or concealment can be proven, the statute of repose may be extended to seven years.
Muino joined with advocates for injured people in calling for the law to be changed.