Monday, May 30, 2016

Adventist Hospital withheld patient's records to avoid lawsuit

A Tampa mother is fighting to change Florida law after she says her disabled son was denied justice. Jane Muino's 11-year-old son, Charlie, can't walk or talk. She tried to sue the hospital, but claims it refused to release medical records until it was too late. Now, she’s reaching out to lawmakers to be the voice for Charlie and others.

“Here we go buddy,” mother Jane Muino says to her son, Charlie. It's already been a long road for the mother and son. Born at 26 weeks, Muino says Charlie’s initial tests showed no signs of developmental disabilities.

“The scan was absolutely, perfectly normal,” says Muino.

Less than a month later, everything changed. “He acquired four hospital-acquired infections,” Muino says.

A lawyer dropped Muino’s medical malpractice case, claiming Florida Hospital, formerly University Community Hospital, had experts that would testify the preemie had pre-existing brain damage.

It's that original, normal scan that could prove her case, but she says the hospital denied having it, even though she had paperwork proving otherwise.

“I requested them. They'd tell me they don't have them for years and years. They tell me they don't have them,” Muino says.

Muino tells 10News WTSP she had to fight 8 years. Finally, the scan appeared. It was way too late to file a medical malpractice case.

Attorney John Morgan tells 10News that under Florida law, ordinary negligence causes of action are subject to a four-year statute of limitations and a seven-year maximum cap for cases that involve fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation by a prospective defendant health care provider.

That’s something Morgan and Muino believe needs to change.

“I've always been in favor of tolling the statute on medical malpractice and children until they're 18,” says attorney John Morgan.

“Not only does he not get justice, he's been cheated out of a normal, typical life,” says Muino.

Right now, the law says a doctor who doesn't maintain adequate patient records can be fined. Muino wants the offender to face criminal charges.

Rep. Shawn Harrison's staff says it is looking into draft legislation to potentially better protect patients.

Muino knows it won't help Charlie, but wants to be the voice for those potentially silenced by the system. “No one should go through this,” says Muino.

10News reached out to Florida Hospital for its side, and would only say in a statement: "Medical records are the property of the patient. All patients have the ability to access their medical records at any time. Adventist Health System provides high-quality compassionate care to more than 4.5 million patients annually."

Labels: ,