A malpractice case against Manatee Memorial Hospital gets a go-ahead

medical worker
Medical worker. By gorodenkoff via iStock for WMNF News.

©2024 The News Service of Florida

An appeals court Friday revived a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a man who alleged he suffered hip fractures while unconscious in a Manatee County hospital after a drug overdose.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned a circuit judge’s decision to grant summary judgment to Manatee Memorial Hospital in the lawsuit filed by Michael Barber.

Barber was taken to the hospital in 2017 by emergency medical technicians and ended up being sedated, according to Friday’s ruling.

Days later, after regaining consciousness, he complained of pain and was diagnosed with hip fractures.

“Barber underwent surgery at Manatee Memorial to repair his hip fractures, but no hospital personnel ever explained to him how his hips were injured,” Friday’s ruling said.

Barber filed a malpractice lawsuit, but a circuit judge ruled he had not provided evidence that the fractures were a result of the hospital’s negligence.

The appeals court, however, agreed with Barber that he should have been able to argue what is known as a “res ipsa loquitur” theory of negligence — with the Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.”

The panel pointed, for example, to evidence that Barber was not injured before going to the hospital.

“In the … case, expert testimony established that Barber’s injuries are not the type that result from lying unconscious in an ICU (intensive care unit) bed recovering from a drug overdose,” said the 19-page ruling, written by Chief Judge Daniel Sleet and joined by Judges Susan Rothstein-Youakim and Suzanne Labrit. “Put another way, he presented sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude that under the circumstances, injuries like his would not occur absent negligence.”

The ruling sent the case back to circuit court.

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