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Florida Fourth DCA rules that case alleging hospital and care facility acted negligently in failing to ensure that hospital-prescribed medications were continued at care facility sounded in medical negligence and was subject to medical negligence pre-suit requirements

On May 20, 2020, in Henderson Behavioral Health, Inc. v. Cortes, No. 4D20-650, the Florida Fourth DCA granted the certiorari petitions of the defendants in a medical lawsuit and quashed a trial court’s ruling denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failure to comply with Florida’s medical negligence pre-suit requirements. The plaintiff alleged in her lawsuit that the defendants, a residential treatment facility and a hospital, were both negligent for not ensuring that medications that the hospital had been administering to her husband were continued when he was transferred from the hospital to the treatment facility.  The plaintiff had argued before the trial court that the medical negligence pre-suit requirements were unnecessary because the case sounded in ordinary negligence rather than medical negligence. See J.B. v. Sacred Heart Hosp. of Pensacola, 635 So. 2d 945, 947 (Fla. 1994) (“If there is doubt as to the applicability of [the medical malpractice statute], the question is generally resolved in favor of the claimant.”). The judge noted, however, that Defendants’ arguments were “well-taken” and that it would be a “close call” after discovery.  The Fourth DCA had “no difficulty or doubt” in concluding that the claim sounded in medical negligence.  The Fourth DCA noted that “[t]he acts from which the claims arise relate to ‘the failure to render, medical care or services.’” § 766.106(1)(a). The Court additionally noted that “[t]o prove the claims, Plaintiff must show that the hospital and treatment facility breached the professional standards of care in failing to ensure that Plaintiff received her medications and failing to recognize the danger of withdrawal symptoms.”