top of page

Ronald Wagner, A Florida Free Kill Victim - Shared by His Sister, Crystal

Ronnie was admitted to Venice Regional Bayfront hospital on the evening of 8/22/21 with Covid 19, and experiencing difficulty breathing. He was treated with oxygen and steroids, both of which saw an improvement, evident the following day upon receiving initial treatment. He was treated a couple of days later, against the wishes of his legal guardian, with a Baricitinib that wreaked havoc on his immune system. After an evening of crippling stomach pain that went unanswered for nearly 8 hours as I stayed by Ronnie’s bedside, pleading for help to have him seen by a doctor and treated, Ronnie’s was given a CT scan, which showed a large perforation in his intestine, and he was becoming septic. Following his stomach perforation, the internal medicine doctor made me aware of the side effects from the Baracitinib, which outlined intestinal tears as a complication. The length of time he was left untreated for his bowel perforation led to the entire large bowel losing blood supply and dying, which then led to an emergency total colectomy and an ileostomy bag to be placed for the rest of his life.

We were grateful nonetheless that he survived this traumatic event, and he was moved to the ICU for several days to recover. From this point forward, the sequence of events included neglect and abuse by his nurses, failure in his transfer of care, leading to cold turkey withdrawals and lack of sleep for 5 days straight, pain and suffering from his anxiety and depression medications not being re-prescribed and administered, and having the administrative staff escort us out of the hospital when we voiced our concerns, while he was being administered treatments and painful procedures without a supportive family member or advocate allowed to be present, despite his inability to give consent.

This all compromised his health and well-being.

On the day he was to be discharged, on September 16th, Ronnie was ordered to fast as he would be taken downstairs for a tunneled catheter procedure, which is a catheter placed in the heart to continue IV medication and receive care at home via IV. This was done via Radiology after a failed PICC line procedure days prior. We were told this would be far more comfortable as he would receive conscious sedation to soothe him through the procedure. They also assured he would be taken down early because he was unable to eat or drink until after the procedure. He remained on IV treatments and the morning turned into late morning, turned into early afternoon, which then turned into late afternoon. No food, no water, no administration of his anti-anxiety medications because he would undergo anesthesia and this could all pose complications with the anesthesia. Ronnie was brought down after 4pm, and was progressively getting weaker. The physician who wheeled him away and would not allow a family member present assured they would be done soon.

Within a few minutes, Code Blue’s were announced and Ronnie was gone.

The hospital staff would not tell us what had happened, they did not take any responsibility and only after reviewing his records, did we learn that they did not use any sedation prior to beginning Ronnie’s tunneled catheter procedure. He had a long history of severe anxiety and was not given any sedation despite the conversations we had about him needing sedation leading up to and during the procedure. Numerous phone calls resulted in all questions going unanswered, and we had to bury our brother with no understanding of how he went from being ready to discharge, to deceased on the same afternoon. He had been in the hospital for over 3 weeks, and was ready to go home. Now our home and hearts are empty without him, and despite having a clear and provable case against the facility,

We can hold no parties responsible due to Florida statute 768.21 (8), Florida’s “Free Kill” law.

We hope that our story brings awareness to the injustices of this legislation. This impacts our entire adult special needs community in the state of Florida and gives zero value to the love and companionship a family loses when a special needs adult is taken from them.

My mother lived for her boy, and now she lives alone, filled with grief,

and stripped of her rights to pursue justice.

Please move to repeal the Florida “Free-Kill” Law, and give our family and families like ours hope to one day make at-fault parties responsible for our pain and suffering.


bottom of page