Mothers United in Tragedy Push Florida Lawmakers to Act

Mothers United in Tragedy Push Florida Lawmakers to Act

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For months, Laurie Giordano had been telling the story of her son to anyone who would listen — of how her Zach, a strapping 16-year-old football player, should never had collapsed in the sweltering Florida heat nearly three years ago. He died days later.

For weeks, Giordano has been driving six hours each way to meet with lawmakers in the state Capitol to push them to act, to understand the unbearable grief of a parent trying to bring meaning to a child’s death.

At the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Giordano crossed paths Thursday with Lori Alhadeff, who lost her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa in the Parkland school shooting. Both spoke about how tragedy and loss is motivating them to lobby for legislation meant to save other children and other parents from suffering.

Giordano and Alhadeff are linked over their grief of losing children and working to get lawmakers to make schools safer, albeit in different ways.

Alhadeff was back to urge lawmakers to require panic buttons at schools to more quickly summon for help. That was one of many school safety measures spawned by the shootings on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17. The bill, known as “Alyssa’s Law,” requires each public elementary, middle, and high school campus, including charter schools, to put in place a mobile system to alert authorities of emergencies.

And Giordano was again at the Capitol to take a seat at the public gallery overlooking the Senate floor, where lawmakers unanimously approved a bill renamed the “Zachary Martin Act.” The legislation would require public schools across Florida to do more to prevent heat-related injuries and deaths.

For a few minutes, they spoke about their children and their shared mission. Giordano admired the pendant hanging from Alhadeff’s neck that bears Alyssa’s smiling face.

“I don’t know how everything went down in your tragedy, but I just kept thinking that help was on the way,” Alhadeff told Giordano about that fateful day in February 2018.

“And help was not on the way,” Giordano interrupted, finishing Alhadeff’s thought.

Another Florida mother suffering a loss, Denise Williams, roamed the Capitol Thursday to begin lobbying for a new law in the name of her daughter Terissa Gautney, who died on a school bus in 2018.

Since losing their daughter, Williams and her husband have been pushing school boards and seeking the help of lawmakers to require life-saving training for school bus drivers and better communications equipment on school buses.

Williams and Alhadeff also crossed paths at the Capitol.

“Our children were lost in a traumatic situation, and my heart breaks for any other mother. And I can feel the pain that they feel,” Alhadeff said of Williams and Giordano. “Even if it was different kinds of tragedies, it’s still the pain of losing a child.”

Giordano’s son died in the summer of 2017 after collapsing in the Florida heat during practice.

After her son’s death, Giordano founded the Zach Martin Memorial Foundation, which has worked to raise awareness about the dangers of heat-related stresses. As part of its work, the foundation has donated 40 cooling tubs to schools across Florida.

Her son, she said, would still be alive if life-saving equipment were at the sidelines during practice — perhaps a water-filled tub — to immediately cool down his body.

“I’m exhausted, but it’s OK. Once this is over, I’m going to collapse for a week,” Giordano said while waiting for lawmakers to take action on her bill.

“A six-hour drive is a long time to be alone with your thoughts,” she said, “that’s when the emotions is really hard. That’s when the tears flow.”

If passed by Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, public schools would be required to have a tub or other large container filled with cold water at the sidelines during all games and practices. Schools also would be required to have defibrillators to resuscitate stricken athletes. The proposed law would also require schools to train personnel on how to recognize signs of heat-related ailments, including potentially deadly heat strokes, and to take life-saving actions.

But even at the brink of success, Giordano said there is little comfort.

“I still cry every day,” she said. “There is no consoling. No, it doesn’t get better.”

Losing a child is a devastating loss but losing one to negligence hits home far worse. Perry & Young is a nationally recognized personal injury, car accident, & commercial trucking accident law firm that has cultivated a reputation for our ability to successfully resolve even the most challenging cases. Over 35 years of experience, our award-winning team has secured multi-millions in numerous verdicts and settlements for clients across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and all over the country. Learn more about our services, your potential case and rights, and how we can help by calling (850) 215-7777 for a FREE consultation.

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New Report Highlights Risks of Out-of-Hospital Deliveries for Moms & Babies

New Report Highlights Risks of Out-of-Hospital Deliveries for Moms & Babies

A recent GateHouse Media and Herald-Tribune investigation, “Failure to Deliver,” found such deliveries are twice as likely to end in infant death and injury as those inside a hospital. And families have little recourse when something goes wrong. Among the incidents described in the new reports are two breech babies that got stuck in the birth canal and either died or suffered severe brain injury; a baby that died in utero to a mother who was two weeks past her due date, and a lifeless baby whose mother’s water broke more than a day before being admitted to the birthing center in active labor.

All those scenarios require midwives to consult with or transfer clients to a physician with hospital privileges, according to state regulations. One midwife appeared in two separate, fatal incidents. Naomi Mizrachi, of Naples, delivered a baby in April who was transferred to the hospital for breathing difficulty and later removed from life support from kidney failure, the report states.
In May, she transferred a laboring mother whose breech baby had been stuck in the birth canal for 33 minutes. It was delivered at the hospital unresponsive and put on life support. The baby later died, the report states.

It’s unclear what, if anything, the state is doing to investigate the reported incidents. None of the midwives involved has faced sanctions related to the events, according to the Department of Health website — even when the details suggest potential violations in standards of care. “There is not a single one in there with disciplinary actions,” said Amy Young, a lobbyist for the Florida district of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which advocated for passage of the adverse-incident reporting legislation. “Where is the accountability? Where is the discipline?”

Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton said the agency immediately reviews each report to determine if violations occurred, but he declined to comment on whether any triggered investigations. Such investigations aren’t public unless the agency determines a probable cause.

One of the reported incidents occurred on April 29 and details a mother who died from an amniotic fluid embolism during an attempted home birth. The case matches that of 37-year-old Jacksonville woman Lauren Accurso, whose sudden death was widely reported by local and national media, including People magazine.

After passing out in a birthing tub, Accurso and her unborn son were rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where the infant was delivered by emergency Cesarean section, the family told news outlets at the time.

The boy suffered “significant brain injury due to a prolonged period without oxygen during his birth,” his father wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. He died about two weeks later when he was removed from life support.

Amniotic fluid embolism is a rare and unpreventable condition in which amniotic fluid enters the mother’s blood stream and causes an allergic reaction leading to heart failure and shock.

It’s fatal for the mother most cases, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The infant survival rate, however, is around 70 percent, according to a study published in the spring 2016 issue of the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology. “Neurologic status of the infant is directly related to the time elapsed between maternal arrest and delivery,” the authors wrote. W. Gregory Wilkerson, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Community Hospital in Tampa, said he has seen one case of amniotic fluid embolism in his 30 years of practice.

“The lady died,” Wilkerson said, “but they saved the baby.”

The reports also include the attempted breech birth of baby Brenden Charles Fisher in January at the now-shuttered Rosemary Birthing Home in Sarasota. During the incident, profiled by GateHouse Media and the Herald-Tribune earlier this year, midwife Jordan Shockley was able to deliver the baby’s body, but his head got stuck behind his mother’s pelvic bones.

Brenden eventually lost his oxygen supply and went into cardiac arrest. He survived, but he suffered severe brain damage.
Rosemary’s then-owner, Harmony Miller, also filed a separate report. This one related to a baby she delivered in March. The infant showed signs of breathing and heart trouble and was transferred to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, where it spent a week in the newborn intensive care unit.

“Those reports make obvious we have a problem,” Wilkerson said. “I thought it would just be a couple of incidents, but there are a lot of them.”

Florida’s out-of-hospital birth rate has nearly doubled from less than 1 percent of all deliveries in 2003 to nearly 2 percent in 2017, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s nearly 4,000 Florida babies born at home or in a birthing center in 2017 alone — most without problem.

Prior to the passage of the 2018 law, licensed midwives were required only to submit annual reports tallying hospital transfers and deaths along with a total count of clients and deliveries.

But the state struggled for years to get full compliance. Just one in three midwives submitted a report in 2016 and one in nine submitted in 2017, according to minutes of the Council of Licensed Midwifery, which receives the reports. Last year, the council achieved a 97 percent compliance rate.

Some of the submitted reports were incomplete or inaccurate, however, omitting certain deaths and hospital transfers, according to a GateHouse Media and Herald-Tribune investigation.

Birth centers also must file annual reports providing similar statistics to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Neither set of reports trigger automatic case reviews. The lack of information about adverse out-of-hospital birth incidents prompted concern among some healthcare advocates, including retired Tampa OBGYN Robert W. Yelverton Sr., who worked with legislators to pass the law.

“Every time we tried to do something to improve the safety of out-of-hospital births we were told, ‘Where’s the data?’” said Yelverton, who serves on the state Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Committee and was a former chair of the state district of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Now, midwives must report to the state within 15 days any incident involving maternal death, maternal hemorrhagic shock or transfusion, fetal or newborn death, certain traumatic physical or neurological birth injuries, or certain transfers of a newborn to neonatal intensive care.

Previously only adverse childbirth-related incidents occurring in a physician’s office or a hospital were reported to the state. Those reports also trigger an immediate review.

The physician and hospital reports also are required for non-childbirth related incidents. They include surgical errors, accidents, and injuries involving all patients. Together, they total 973 in the same one-year time frame, according to the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration, which collects them. Neither agency could immediately provide a count of childbirth-only incidents, for comparison.

Yelverton called the new reports a good start but demanded the state now take action in cases where midwife negligence might have contributed to the adverse events.

“So now we have the data coming in, but we have no evidence that it’s being acted upon,” Yelverton said. “That was the object — not to just accumulate data, but to have something done to improve the quality of care for women of this state.”

Perry & Young is a nationally recognized personal injury, medical malpractice and property damage firm that has cultivated a reputation for our ability to successfully resolve even the most challenging cases. Over 35 years of experience, our award-winning team has secured multi-millions in numerous verdicts and settlements for clients across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the country.  Learn more about our services, your potential case and rights, and how we can help by calling (850) 215-7777 for a FREE consultation.

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Washington County Pursuing Opioid Lawsuit

Washington County, Fla. – The Washington County Commission has hired the Perry & Young law firm to represent the county in the Opioid Multi-District Litigation.

The firm is partnered with DeGaris & Rogers  has serves on numerous federal multidistrict litigation panels.

“For nearly ten years Perry & Young has pursued cases against doctors, clinics and pharmacies for

over prescribing and mis-prescribing opioids which led to the wrongful deaths of several residents in Bay, Washington, Jackson, Gulf and Holmes counties,” officials wrote in a news release. “The firms intend on filing a lawsuit within the next two weeks against the drug manufactures and multinational distributors.”

Washington County has the highest per capita rate of opioid prescriptions in the State of Florida.

“The citizens of Washington County have paid an “opioid tax” of nearly a million dollars this past year alone for increase in governmental services in police, emergency medical services, court services and community clinics which  impact is directly related to the increase in opioid use in the area,” officials added.

 

Failure to diagnose and medical malpractice

When doctors make mistakes, the consequences can be devastating. People who suffer this type of harm look for ways to get redress. Litigants feel motivated by the fact that a medical error can vastly increase medical bills, cause pain, disability and loss of the ability to earn money. On an emotional level, many people feel strongly that fairness demands the punishment of a physician who causes this kind of suffering.

Basic requirements for a malpractice suit

Doctors make mistakes all the time. Not all of them offer grounds for a lawsuit. The basic principles of any medical malpractice case require both that the mistake violate accepted standards of care and that harm ensue as a result. For example, if a patient catches a doctor making a mistake, even a very stupid one, but no one suffers because of it, there is unlikely to be grounds for a lawsuit. Conversely, sometimes a patient has a bad outcome even when doctors do everything right.

Failing to diagnose

Failure to diagnose is among the most common types of medical malpractice. This category often includes a doctor’s complete failure to catch signs of a health problem. A common scenario occurs when a patient presents with particular symptoms and the doctor fails to draw the right conclusions or do further diagnostic work. As a result, he or she does not get the needed treatment and the condition progresses.

Another scenario is when the doctor makes the wrong diagnosis and proceeds to treat the wrong condition while failing to do anything about the actual problem. In such a case, damage can happen both from the lack of proper treatment and from the wrong treatment.

Finally, a delayed diagnosis catches the real problem eventually but often not until after it has developed further. Many serious diseases, including cancer, are far easier to treat during their early stages. As they spread, they affect other systems throughout the body and become harder to deal with.

Not all mistakes qualify as malpractice

Not all mistakes rise to the level of malpractice. The law does not expect doctors to get everything right every time. Even when harm results, the mistake must violate accepted standards of medical care. These typically depend on the state of knowledge in a particular medical field, as well as standard procedures for diagnosis and treatment. Experienced malpractice attorneys work with medical experts to determine whether a physician followed the right steps or not.

A medical mistake can cause an unlucky patient serious injuries, pain, financial loss and even death. This type of lawsuit involves many complicated topics and specialized knowledge. For this reason, if people are thinking about seeking legal recourse for a failure to diagnose, it is essential to look for a highly qualified attorney with experience in this area so that they can fight for clients’ best interests to the fullest possible extent.

Causes of medication errors

A common problem in Panama City that is becoming more prevalent in the healthcare community is medication errors. More patients are receiving the wrong types and doses of medications for their conditions. This increases their risk of suffering complications from their ailments, developing new conditions and even dying significantly. According to ProPublica, injuries and complications that are related to medication errors are preventable in 59 percent of cases. People who rely on medication should make themselves aware of the common reasons that such errors occur so they can protect themselves.

Improper labeling

The use of barcodes and computerized labeling is not a common standard in some healthcare facilities and nursing homes. Many prescriptions may have the wrong labeling. Workers may not have the ability to read or understand the writing or labels on them. Places that do use computerized systems to track their medications may have issues with regulation because some drugs are placed next to medications that have similar names. This makes it easy for nurses and caregivers to make mistakes in selection, especially if they are in a rush.

Distractions

Sometimes workers get distracted. This can lead to confusion and ultimately medication errors and harm to patients. For example, a nurse is in the medication room getting chlordiazepoxide for a patient. Instead, because she is engaged in conversation with a coworker, she accidentally grabs chlorpromazine. She fails to check the drug label with the information that is listed in the patient’s chart and proceeds to administer what she believes is the right medication. Both drugs can affect brain function and alter moods. However, when they are used for the wrong patient, the consequences are often severe and life-altering.

Workload and environment

Many caregivers and healthcare providers work long hours and have heavy caseloads. They may see numerous patients each workday. Fatigue can result in them giving less attention to the labels of the medications they are handling and the patients they are supposed to go to. Also, there could be environmental issues such as building problems, accessibility, temperature and other concerns that can increase the likelihood of workers making mistakes with medication administration.

Healthcare workers are human, and they make mistakes too. Many of those errors are preventable when extra attention and precaution is given to patients, their medical histories and drug labeling. Caregivers and healthcare workers should continue to update their training and education so they are aware of common drug mistakes, how to avoid them and how to properly counteract them if necessary. If you are dealing with a situation that involves medication errors, you should discuss things with an attorney so you can learn more about your options.

Medical mistakes take many forms

The majority of medical professionals here in Florida diligently perform their duties every day in order to safeguard the lives of their patients. However, mistakes can — and do — still happen that cause serious or fatal injuries to the lives they are supposed to protect. Those mistakes take many forms and might constitute medical malpractice.

One of the most challenging tasks performed by doctors is diagnosing a patient’s condition. Without the proper diagnosis, the patient’s health may continue to deteriorate, which could easily result in permanent damage or death. Most doctors will do what is necessary to determine what condition a patient is suffering from, but errors are made far too often. For example, failing to diagnose cancer in a timely manner could be a death sentence for the patient.

Even if the correct diagnosis is made, that does not guarantee a successful outcome for the patient. Every surgical procedure has its risks, and one of those risks might come from the surgical team attending to the individual before, during or after the procedure. Nearly every Florida resident has heard horror stories about surgeons leaving objects behind in patients. Unfortunately, too many of those stories are true. This type of mistake, among others, can cause harm to patients.

These are just two examples of potential medical malpractice claims filed by people every day across the country and here in Florida. If you believe a medical mistake caused you serious and/or permanent injury — or if you lost a loved one to malpractice — it would be beneficial to contact an attorney right away to protect your rights. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can be held accountable for their mistakes, and you deserve restitution for your financial losses.

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