Despite having more hospitals than almost any other state, Florida finishes near the bottom when it comes to safety measures.
Only about one out of four hospitals in the Sunshine State got an "A” in a recent report from a safety watchdog group.
And the I-Team uncovered, 19 Bay area hospitals earned a "C" or lower.
Victor Rosenfeld understands everything you say, but can't respond in a complete sentence since his stroke three years ago.
“Very tough,” he mumbles, describing his circumstances.
“He couldn't speak and when he did try to speak, it came out completely different than he speaks normally,” said Johanna Rosenfeld, his wife, who noticed something was wrong one morning during breakfast.
“He was pale, he was afraid and I called his doctor,” Johanna said.
She rushed him to Manatee Memorial Hospital, but she says doctors did not give him immediate treatment that could have stopped or minimized damage to his brain.
Records show a neurologist didn't examine Rosenfeld until more than six hours after he arrived.
That's why the Rosenfelds are now suing Manatee Memorial.
“The reason that he wasn't given therapy for his stroke was that it was too late. He was beyond the treatment window,” said the Rosenfelds’ attorney Dennis Rogers.
Manatee Memorial recently received a "D" from the non-profit Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade organization, which rates hospitals nationwide.
The organization factored in problems with surgery, infection rates and medical errors.
Communications with doctors and nurses and responsiveness of hospital staff were among manatee memorial's lowest scores.
If the hospital got a "D”, why?” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, who is an associate dean of University of South Florida’s medical school and who helped write Florida’s hospital safety reporting rules.
He says safety grades are important for you to pay attention to.
“You want to have some way of measuring quality and outcome,” he said.
The most recent Leapfrog survey shows that only 15 hospitals in the entire state of Florida scored either a "D" or an "D". Five of those are right here in the Bay area.
They include Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Highlands Regional Medical Center, Lake Wales Medical Center and Venice Regional Bayfront Health.
14 bay area hospitals received a "C", including Medical Center of Trinity, where Doreen Gilbert went for shoulder pain in 2014.
“I can't get out of the chair, I have to be dressed, bathed, everything,” she said.
In a lawsuit, Gilbert claims a neurosurgeon wasn't available when she was brought to the hospital and her spinal condition remained untreated for 12 hours, resulting in paralysis.
“Maybe if there hadn't been the delay, I would be up walking and go about a daily routine, working and cooking. But now I can't,” Gilbert said.
The hospital got low marks from Leapfrog for not having enough specially trained doctors to care for seriously ill patients.
The hospital won't comment about the lawsuit, but said in a statement:
We encourage patients to look at many factors when making their personal healthcare decisions, including reviewing the numerous publicly available ratings and rankings.
The hospital said it earned five consecutive top performer recognitions from another rating organization.
The bottom line is you have to do your own research.
"Don't assume that your doctor's always gonna make the best choice for you or that they local hospital is necessarily the best place to go,” said Wolfson.
“It's extremely important. Take one look at me,” said Gilbert.
To see how your local hospital and hospitals in your area scored in the latest heath safety report, go to the Leapfrog website: http://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org/about-us/newsroom/display/489537