Tampa Bay hospital offers to pay alleged malpractice victim’s bills in exchange for silence, daughter says

BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) — An attorney at Brandon Regional Hospital has offered to pay a deceased patient’s medical bills if his daughter agrees not to speak publicly about the case involving a doctor accused of malpractice.

Keith Davis, 62, of Brandon, went to Brandon Regional in 2020 with a sore leg but died days later from what an autopsy determined was a 9-inch blood clot that Dr Rathinam Krishnamoorthy did not detect.

A Florida Department of Health investigation determined there was probable cause that Krishnamoorthy committed medical malpractice when he failed to treat the fatal clot. Krishnamoorthy has the right to request an administrative hearing into the findings.

Neither Krishnamoorthy nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.

In an email to Davis’ daughter Sabrina, hospital attorney Tracy Falkowitz said her father’s medical bills would be waived if she signed a “confidentiality agreement and non-disparagement agreement.” .

Davis criticized the hospital and the Florida Wrongful Death Act, which does not allow children 25 or older to sue for malpractice in the death of a single parent. The law also does not allow parents to sue for malpractice in the death of a child 25 or older.

Davis said she did not accept the hospital’s offer.

“It’s painful and financially, emotionally draining,” Davis said. “I won’t stop talking about what happened until they change the law.”

Brandon Regional spokeswoman Brandi Ponsler said the hospital had no comment on the offer made to Davis.

State Representative Mike Beltran, who represents parts of the Tampa Bay area and favors changing the law, said hospitals are not allowed to collect bills in malpractice cases.

“This hospital tried to collect my constituent’s medical bills for the very service that constituted medical malpractice that led to his untimely death,” Beltran said. “And I find that appalling.”

In the 2022 session, the bill allowing adult children to sue died at the House Civil Justice and Property Rights subcommittee, while the bill that would allow parents of adult children to sue was easily passed by the House. But State Sen. Danny Burgess, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not allow the legislation to go to the house for a vote.

Burgess, of Zephyrhills, said while he also believed the law should be changed, the bill would have “opened up a potential ‘Pandora’s box’ for litigation”.

Beltran disagrees.

“This law is ready. He was ready,” Beltran said. “It wouldn’t cause a dramatic change in the number of malpractice cases.”

Beltran said the insurance and medical industries are fueling fear in Tallahassee about the impact of the Wrongful Death Act amendment.

Beltran and Burgess said they expect the bills to resurface next year.

Davis said she did not want to sue to collect a settlement. She wanted answers about the last moments of her father’s life.

“When you think about the end of someone’s life and how your loved one might die,” Davis said, “you want to know what’s going on.”

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