After losing her father, a Florida woman is going to the capitol to fight for changes to the state’s medical malpractice protections.
Sabrina Davis’ father, Keith Davis, died at Brandon Regional Hospital near Tampa, Florida, in 2020. The Gainesville woman cites that he passed away due to medical malpractice and is now gearing up to fight a state law at the capitol, because Florida will not let her bring a malpractice lawsuit against the facility.
Davis explained that when her father arrived at the Regional Hospital, he explicitly told the staff he had a blood clot disorder. Individuals who suffer from this type of disorder have a hard time recovering from anything that is going to cause bleeding, including surgeries, because of the inability of their wounds to properly. Blood clots can also travel throughout the body and, when this happens, it can be fatal.
“His left knee was hot to the touch, and he was unable to walk,” Davis recalled. “We asked staff multiple times to order an ultrasound to check for a blood clot for my father. My father even stated that his left leg felt like it did when he had a blood clot in his right leg, and staff still declined.”
After five days, staff cleared him to be discharged and return home, and Keith died the same day.
“I had a phone conversation after this happened to my father, and I was screaming and I was crying, and I said ‘Dr. Moorthy do you feel like you did everything you could to help my dad, or could you have done better?’ and he said ‘well I could have done better I wasn’t looking at his whole leg I was only looking at his knee,’ he said those words to me,” Davis said.
However, there was little Davis could do under state law. After her traumatic ordeal, she became determined to make changes to the way that these types of cases are handled in hospitals. She taught herself more about the state law as it pertained to her situation and came up with ways that she wanted to fight for change.
The Wrongful Death Act, enacted 20 years ago, is meant to protect healthcare providers from malpractice suits and rising insurance premiums. Under Florida law, a wrongful death occurs when “a person or entity causes another person’s death by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” If an individual passes way due to medical malpractice and that person is an unmarried adult with no minor children, their relatives cannot file a lawsuit in the aftermath.
“I do not believe the marital status and the age of a person’s child should determine if somebody at fault for medical negligence is going to be held accountable or not,” Davis said.
In fact, she believes the statute discriminates against a wide range of people, including, Davis said, “disabled adults, widowed seniors, unmarried graduate students, the LGBT community, divorced and widowed adults whose children are no longer minors, any unmarried adult without a child, and part-time Florida residents who are unmarried without a minor child.” This represents a large part of the state’s overall population as well as the national population.
State Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson supports the changes Davis is trying to make, stating that these adjustments are necessary to ensure everyone is covered equally under the law and medical institutions are properly serving those in need. Hinson said, “For people who treat their profession in a casual way, they won’t like this at all. But what I say is level up. Level up, you’re working with human lives.”