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New Sitcom Raises Medical Malpractice Questions in Florida

There’s a new sitcom on the fall television schedule about a young single woman who is saving herself for marriage, but becomes pregnant through artificial insemination – by accident. That is, the doctor who artificially inseminated her mistook her for a different patient in another exam room and performed the procedure on the wrong woman.

The show is called “Jane the Virgin,” and it’s scheduled to run Monday nights on The CW network. The series is set in Miami, and although it’s billed as a comedy, the premise of the show raises some serious questions about reproductive rights, medical malpractice, and Florida law.

Studies Show Medical Mistakes are Widespread

A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine stunned many consumers when it found that up to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as a result of medical errors. And that estimate doesn’t count the number of people who experience non-life-threatening complications as a result of a doctor’s mistake.

Although the plot of “Jane the Virgin” may sound farfetched, it could well have been inspired by a real-life event.  According to a 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune, a jury awarded a North Carolina woman $435,000 after she was accidentally inseminated when a nurse practitioner injected her using an unlabeled syringe. The syringe contained “leftover” sperm that was several days old. The patient became violently ill.

TV Series Will Need Legal Advice

As for “Jane the Virgin,” co-creator Jennie Snyder Urman has told television critics, “I find it incredibly hard to believe a girl who gets accidentally inseminated who doesn’t sue…That’s something we’ll explore.” Her remarks appeared in the Hollywood Reporter.

We hope the show’s executives consult with experienced personal injury attorneys as they develop that story line. Florida’s medical malpractice laws are notoriously complicated.

One issue the show’s producers will want to address is the statute of limitations. All states set time limits for when a medical malpractice claim can be filed. If a patient waits too long to sue, the case will go nowhere, even if the complaint is otherwise valid.

Florida law states: “An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.”

That means Jane the Virgin would have two years from the day she discovers she’s pregnant to file her lawsuit against the doctor.

In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if the patient can show that medical professionals used “fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation” to prevent the discovery of the injury, or if the injured patient is a young child. But that doesn’t appear to be the case with this fictional character.

Don’t Wait to Call a Lawyer

In real life, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney soon after an injury occurs in order to protect your rights before the statute of limitations expires.

At Reed & Reed, with offices in Brandon and Tampa, our attorneys have helped families and individuals recover compensation for all types of personal injuries. If you’ve been hurt by someone else’s negligence, feel free to contact our law offices today.


Brandon Personal Injury
Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law, is located in Brandon, FL and serves clients in
and around Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Sydney, Gibsonton, Balm, Valrico, Wimauma, Sun City Center, Lithia, Ruskin, Durant, and Hillsborough County.

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