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Senate Bill Seeks $2.4M In Infant’s Death


The parents of an infant who died of bacterial meningitis after a mistake at a Martin County Health Department clinic would receive $2.4 million under a bill filed this week in the Florida Senate.

The bill (SB 44), filed by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, would compensate Cristina Alvarez and George Patnode in the 1998 death of their son, 5-month-old Nicholas Patnode.

The infant was taken to a Martin County Health Department clinic because of a fever, the bill said. The results of a blood test showed a condition that requires immediate administration of antibiotics. The results of the test were printed out but not picked up at a clinic printer, and, as a result, the treatment did not begin.

The infant was later taken to a hospital, where a spinal tap led to a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. He died two days after going to the clinic, the bill said.

A lawsuit led to a $2.6 million judgment for the parents, but sovereign immunity laws shielded the Department of Health from paying more than $200,000 without the Legislature passing a “claim” bill. Rodriguez's bill would direct payment of the remaining $2.4 million.