Florida lawmakers next year are expected to consider a proposal that would clear a $5 million settlement payment to the family of a young boy who was severely disabled through negligence at a Miami-Dade County public health care facility.
Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez of Doral filed a bill this week that, if approved next year, would authorize the group that oversees Jackson Health System, the county’s public health care provider, to pay the family of Harry Augustin Shumow.
Rodriguez did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Rodriguez’s bill is classified as a “claims” bill or “relief act,” as it is intended to compensate a person or entity for injuries or losses caused by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency.
Such bills often arise when appropriate damages due to a person or entity exceed what’s allowable under Florida’s sovereign immunity laws, which protect government agencies from costly lawsuits by capping payouts without legislative action at $300,000.
On Aug. 22, 2017, Shumow, then 6, was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital after he was diagnosed with acute liver failure, hypoglycemia, dehydration, hypotension and signs of acute kidney injury.
He appeared to get better over the next two weeks, showing “significant signs of improvement” by Sept. 6, 2017, when he “was reported to be able to answer simple questions appropriately and respond to simple commands,” as well as perform some motor functions with his upper limbs and “inconsistently” track movements with his eyes, court papers said.
But two days later, a lab technician named Simeon Pierre allegedly made a critical error. Testing of Shumow’s bloodwork showed that his hemoglobin levels had plummeted overnight, indicating the possibility of severe anemia.
“The (hemoglobin) result is considered to be a ‘critical’ or ‘panic’ value,” a compliant filed with the 11th Judicial Circuit Court said.
Pierre retested the sample four times and got the same result. But rather than inform a supervisor in accordance with hospital protocols, he attributed it to a contamination of the sample, canceled the lab result and called for blood to be redrawn.
When new tests of Shumow’s came back 12 hours later, his hemoglobin levels had fallen even further, as had his blood pressure. Medical staff discovered he had been bleeding internally from a prior kidney biopsy procedure. He then went into cardiac arrest.
By the time he stabilized an hour later, tremendous damage had occurred. Shumow suffered severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a type of brain injury that most frequently occurs during childbirth as a result of impaired cerebral blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain.
It left him quadriplegic, epileptic, unable to speak and subject to painful, involuntary muscle spasms.
His parents, Moses Shumow and Rose Shumow, sued the Public Health Trust, which oversees the operations, governance and maintenance of Jackson Health System, for negligence in May 2019.
In late July 2021, following mediation, the Public Health Trust agreed to pay $5.3 million. Florida lawmakers must act for Shumow’s family to receive the remaining $5 million, minus the $300,000 allowable without legislation.
The family was again beset by tragedy in Oct. 22, 2019, when Moses Shumow, a documentarian and former Florida International University journalism professor, was killed by a commuter train while bicycling in Beverly, MA. He was 42.