As a Palm Beach hospital injury attorney, I believe that performing an operation on the wrong patient, site or performing the wrong procedure is a completely avoidable error. When an error or adverse incident happens in a Florida hospital, Florida Statute Section 395.0197 requires hospitals to report certain events called adverse incidents, to the State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) within 15 calendar days.

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The statute specifically requires that in the event of:

  1. Death of a patient;
  2. Brain or spinal damage to a patient;
  3. Performance of a surgery on the wrong patient;
  4. Performance of a wrong-site surgery;
  5. Performance of a wrong surgery;
  6. Performance of a medically unnecessary surgery;
  7. Surgical repair of damage where the damage is not a recognized risk,
  8. Procedures to remove unplanned foreign objects.

The Agency for Health Care posts on its website quarterly reports detailing the number of reported events. Unfortunately, the AHCA protects hospitals by not identifying the offending facility by name. Assuming that many events are never reported, the number of statewide incidents for the second quarter of 2011 alone is astonishing. There were 29 reported incidents and a horrifying 16 of those involved foreign objects being left in patients.

One of the few statutes that actually protect patients is Florida Statute Section 395.1051 that requires Florida hospitals to advise patients when an adverse incident has occurred. In my 20 years of representing Florida’s victims of medical malpractice, I have never seen a case where a hospital has complied with this provision. The statute is silent as to what penalties if any would befall a hospital that fails to comply with notifying a patient of an adverse event. And, as usual, the statute goes on to exclude the admissibility of any such notification in a civil medical malpractice statute.

As a Florida hospital injury attorney, I strongly recommend patients or their families who believe they have suffered an adverse incident in a Florida Hospital or other licensed facility to immediately consult with an experienced personal injury attorney and to notify the Florida Department of Health of the incident.