Brain injury deaths draw attention to Florida hospitals

A Jacksonville, Florida, woman believes that a decision to take her child to the wrong hospital played a role in her child’s death. The incident that led to the death of the woman’s son occurred on April 20, 2012. According to the mother, she was nearby as her nine-year-old son was struck by a car and knocked unconscious.

According to reports from first responders, the 9-year-old did not appear to be laboring to breathe nor was he suffering from cardiac arrest, yet they transported the victim to a nearby level II adult trauma center rather than taking the boy to a pediatric trauma center located slightly further away.

The boy’s mother says that 80 minutes expired between the time of the accident and when the boy was finally transferred via helicopter to the pediatric trauma center after first being taken to a facility not properly equipped to treat his injuries.

A joint investigation by a Tampa, Florida, newspaper and a Jacksonville, Florida, television news station began looking into whether a chain of Florida hospitals owned by Hospital Corporation of America may have overstepped their mandate in that case as well as others. Specifically, questions have been raised as to whether the HCA hospitals practice of accepting pediatric patients instead of deferring them to hospitals designed to treat younger patients may have contributed to the preventable deaths of at least two children.

According to the probe, another boy, 2 years old, was suffering from brain damage when he died at a Gainesville, Florida, hospital in a similar incident. Investigators say the victim’s brain had swollen beyond the point where medical professionals could save him following a two-hour delay in delivering him to the appropriate treatment facility.

Florida residents who suffer brain injury and brain trauma often experience permanent disabilities and require expensive lifelong medical care. In some of these cases, especially where a doctor’s error or hospital negligence has contributed to the injury, there may be sufficient grounds for a civil lawsuit in which the victim can sue for compensation.

Source: RTV -6 ABC The Indy Channel, “Joint investigation uncovers new Florida trauma centers may be costing children’s lives” Adam Walser, Sep. 13, 2014