© St. Petersburg Times, published August 29, 2002
Group to look at zooming malpractice coverage cost
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush created a task force Wednesday to examine how the state's soaring medical malpractice insurance rates are affecting health care.
The Select Task Force on Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance will make recommendations on how to control the cost of the insurance. "It is imperative that we find a way to address this crisis before it adversely affects patient access to medical care in our state," Bush said in a news release.
The task force will work with Health Secretary Dr. John Agwunobi. University of Central Florida president John Hitt will chair it. Other members will be former University of Florida president Marshall Criser Jr., University of South Florida trustee Richard Beard, University of Miami president Donna Shalala and Florida A&M University president Fred Gainous.
It will make recommendations in a report to the governor, Senate president and House speaker by Jan. 31.
Health care liability insurance rates in Florida have increased an average of 30 percent in two years, and many companies have stopped selling the insurance altogether in Florida, the governor's office said.
Doctors have asked the Legislature to limit jury awards in malpractice suits.
BRADENTON -- A man who stabbed his wife several times in a parking lot, then set himself on fire Monday night died late Tuesday.
Livan Martin, 37, a sandwich and ice cream vendor, died in Tampa General Hospital of severe burns. His wife, Milagros de la Caridad Martin, 17, was listed in good condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg Wednesday with eight stab wounds in her upper body.
De la Caridad Martin told the Bradenton Herald she and her husband had been separated for five days, but agreed to get together to take their sons, ages 1 and 3, to Chuck E. Cheese's on Cortez Road. When they met, she said she asked for the keys to one of two ice cream trucks they owned. "He sat my youngest one on the seat, and he got out a knife," she said, and attacked her.
Martin then got a gasoline container from their truck, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire, Manatee County sheriff's deputies said. Witnesses grabbed a fire extinguisher from a nearby Publix and put the fire out.
The boys are in the custody of Child Protection Services.
DAVENPORT -- A newborn was found by two construction workers in a parking lot at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center.
The infant was about 6 hours old and in good condition despite a few ant bites when found Tuesday, said Michal Shanley, a spokeswoman with the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
The boy was wrapped in a blanket, Capt. W.J. Martin said. A baby bottle of milk was left with him.
The workers, Billy Felkins and David Stoner, heard the baby crying as they were returning to their car in the hospital parking lot. They found him near one of the entrances to a medical office building next to the hospital.
Martin said the baby was not born at Heart of Florida. Other hospitals were being checked in an effort to learn the condition of the mother.
Under a state law passed in 2000, a mother who leaves a newborn 3 days old or younger with someone at a fire station, an emergency medical service facility or a hospital will not be charged with a crime. The law was not complied with in this case because the infant was not handed to a person.
ORLANDO -- An Orlando company that produces electronic mosquito and pest repellents was charged by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday with making false and unsubstantiated claims.
The agency accused Lentek International Inc. of not having reliable evidence to support claims made for its battery-operated MosquitoContro, PestContro and Sila Air Cleaners products. The company advertises its products on the Internet.
An administrative hearing will be scheduled later.
"We don't see any evidence that these products work," said Elaine Kolish, a spokeswoman for the FTC.
Lentek CEO Joseph Durek said the complaint was unfair and the FTC had ignored "volumes of documentation."
The company claims MosquitoContro products create sounds that mimic male mosquitoes and scare off biting female mosquitoes. The product comes as a bracelet, key chain and table top model.
It claims PestContro products emit ultrasound waves that annoy rats, mice and cockroaches and drive them away.
Lentek claimed the Sila Air Cleaners clean indoor air through ozone and ion generation.
TOT LEFT IN CAR DIES: A 2-year-old girl died Wednesday after her mother forgot to drop the toddler off at a Naples day care and left her in a car more than nine hours. Jeanette Christmas, 25, told investigators she dropped her 9-year-old son off at school but forgot to take her daughter to preschool before going to work at a bank.
FIRE CHIEF SUSPENDED: Flagler Beach Fire Chief Rob Creal was suspended for two weeks after testing positive for marijuana use. Creal, 51, acknowledged smoking marijuana "intermittently" but attributed it to momentary weakness and said he never used the illegal drug on duty. City Manager Nancy Ciummo declined to comment on why Creal was asked to take a drug test, citing a police investigation.
TROOPER OF THE YEAR: State Trooper Andrew J. Maurer has been honored as Trooper of the Year by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet for leading children to safety from a burning day care center near Orlando. Maurer was on his way to a traffic crash on May 8, 2001, when he saw smoke coming from the day care, radioed for help, then plunged into the building and led the children out.
-- Bradenton Herald and wire reports