May 5, 2022

The Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida (“Florida Appellate Court”) stated in its opinion dated January 26, 2022: “The complaint asserted that Bloomer sustained injuries when a surgical table collapsed underneath him while he was undergoing sedation in preparation for eye surgery at a facility operated by Bascom Palmer. Bloomer alleged that Bascom Palmer breached a duty of care by failing to properly use, maintain, or warn about the table before the procedure. Bascom Palmer moved to dismiss on the basis that the complaint was deficient under Chapter 766, arguing that the complaint asserted a medical malpractice claim because it related to medical equipment used during a surgical procedure. The trial court denied the motion, finding that Bloomer properly characterized the claim as ordinary negligence.” Bascom Palmer sought a writ of certiorari to quash the trial court’s denial of its motion to dismiss.

Florida Medical Malpractice Law

The pre-suit requirements of Chapter 766 apply to a claim arising out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services. §766.106(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2021). However, merely because a wrongful act occurs in a medical setting does not necessarily mean that it involves medical malpractice. Rather, the wrongful act must be directly related to the improper application of medical services, and the use of professional judgment or skill. The inquiry for determining whether a claim sounds in medical malpractice is twofold: (1) whether the action arose out of medical diagnosis, treatment, or care, and (2) whether such diagnosis, treatment, or care was rendered by a provider of health care.

Florida Appellate Court Opinion

The Florida Appellate Court stated: “[I]n applying the pre-suit requirements of the medical malpractice statute, a court must look beyond label proffered and “must[] apply the law to the well-pleaded factual allegations and decide the legal issue of whether the complaint sounds in simple or medical negligence” … Bloomer alleged no act during, or directly resulting from, the sedation procedure as a cause of the collapse. Similarly, Bloomer alleges no action or inaction resulting from medical judgment or skill. Instead, Bloomer alleges that the table collapsed under him during sedation for his eye procedure. That the table was being used for a medical procedure at the time of the injury does not, without more, establish a prima facie medical malpractice claim.”

Therefore, the Florida Appellate Court denied Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s request for a writ of certiorari to quash the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with certain mandatory pre-suit filing requirements for a medical malpractice action under Chapter 766, Florida Statutes.

Source University of Miami d/b/a Bascom Palmer Eye Institute v. Bloomer, No. 3D21-2298.

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