The sudden and unexpected death of a family member can be both emotionally and financially devastating for those left behind. The family members of patients who die due to negligence by Kaiser Permanente must have skilled attorneys, well versed in the prosecution of Kaiser wrongful death cases. Our lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger are here to help.
Information About Wrongful Death And Kaiser Permanente
The circumstances under which wrongful death cases arise are many, but one element of every case is the same: the negligent care the decedent received at the hands of those who were supposed to provide competent medical care. Whether the case requires proving inattention to details, misdiagnosis, delayed treatment, or errors in surgery, the Walkup wrongful death team is up to the challenge.
Our attorneys have access to experts in many fields of medicine, are well acquainted with the procedures and protocols that should be followed by medical professionals, and understand the nature and breadth of the loss, both emotional and financial, that families experience when a loved is unexpectedly taken from them. Ever sensitive to the needs of our clients, we strive to achieve settlements that will ensure the financial well-being of the families left devastated by the loss of a loved one.
For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us by email or call us today at (415) 981-7210.
EXAMPLES OF OUR SUCCESS
Heart Catheterization Mistake – Death
Walkup attorneys negotiated an $850,000 settlement of claims brought by a deceased patient’s wife and two adult children for the wrongful death of a 56-year-old engineer following arterial rupture during a routine angioplasty. The patient presented to Kaiser South San Francisco’s ER complaining of chest tightness and chest pressure. He received nitroglycerin, quickly stabilized and was determined to be a suitable candidate for cardiac catheterization, which was performed later that day at Kaiser San Francisco. The patient elected angioplasty procedure over bypass surgery. The cardiologist performed an angioplasty on the proximal left anterior descending artery, entering with various catheters, balloons and stents. The stent did not expand fully against the vessel wall, though, so the doctor replaced the balloon with a slightly larger, non-compliant type, and inflated it to a higher pressure. This attempt was also unsuccessful, as was the second effort to expand the stent. A third effort was made, after which the patient began complaining of chest pains. Some 10 minutes later, a perforation in the left anterior descending coronary artery was recognized, and the patient’s vital signs collapsed. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. The member alleged that the stent used in the procedure was too large and that the doctor doing the procedure did not have adequate experience. The settlement in this case included the statutory maximum amount allowed under MICRA for non-economic damages, as well as compensation for lost wages.
Colon Perforation/Sepsis During Cholecystectomy – Death
A settlement in the maximum amount permitted for general damages was obtained for the heirs of a 77-year-old woman, following a routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy at Kaiser Walnut Creek. The decedent underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy in order to relieve abdominal pain resulting from gallstones. She was sent home following the procedure, only to return to the emergency department two days later, complaining of severe abdominal pain, inability to eat, and inability to walk due to pain. Upon admittance to the ER, decedent had no measurable blood pressure and was immediately started on IV fluids. A Kaiser surgeon examined the decedent, found an acute abdomen, indicating the need for immediate surgery, but instead the decedent was sent for a CT scan. When she was finally taken to surgery, an exploratory laparotomy disclosed that she had a rent in her bowel where the initial surgery was performed. Ultimately, four total exploratory laparotomies were performed before it was discovered that the decedent had a leaking cystic duct proximal to the place where the clips were placed during the laparoscopic cholecystectomy. She underwent two additional exploratory laparotomies, where bowel perforations were found. Decedent died in the hospital due to an abscess in her heart. Due to the original failure of the doctor who performed the laparoscopic cholecystectomy to discover the rents in decedent’s bowel and cystic leaks caused by slippage of the clips, the 77-year-old decedent was subjected to numerous surgeries, each of which rendered her increasingly susceptible to infection.
Failure to Appreciate Results of Blood Pressure Test – Death
Walkup attorneys obtained a binding Kaiser arbitration award in the amount of $946,616 on behalf of the surviving heirs of a Kaiser member who suffered a heart attack at age 48. The decedent, a long time public servant in Contra Costa County, was running for assessor at the time of his death. Five weeks prior, he had undergone a 24 hour Holter monitor evaluation (the equivalent of a 24 hour EKG) because of irregularities noted during a routine blood pressure check. The Holter study indicated signs of ischemia (insufficient blood supply) to the heart. His survivors contended that Kaiser Walnut Creek physicians should have followed up on the Holter monitor results immediately and that a proper work up, including a thallium treadmill examination, would have resulted in a diagnosis of severe coronary artery disease and permitted timely bypass surgery.
Kaiser disputed liability, claiming that the findings reflected on the Holter monitor tracings were not diagnostic and were, in fact, insignificant. Kaiser also claimed that bypass surgery would not have prevented the fatal heart attack. The case was arbitrated for five days before a panel of three arbitrators. The award of damages included past economic loss of $128,000 and an award of $598,500 reflecting the present cash value of future economic losses. General damages for the wrongful death of this husband and father were limited by MICRA to $250,000.
Failure to Diagnose Infection – Death
Walkup attorneys prosecuted arbitration on behalf of the surviving children of a 34-year old male who went to the emergency room at Kaiser Oakland complaining of flu-like symptoms, fever, pain and weakness so pervasive that he had difficulty walking from his car to the urgent care center at the Kaiser facility. On arrival, a nurse, rather than a doctor, evaluated the patient. The nurse incorrectly determined that he was not in need of medical care and discharged him home without treatment. The next day the patient returned to the emergency room again, now with worsening pain and weakness and a new symptom: unusual spotting on his fingers. He was again sent home with orders to report to the clinic that afternoon. When he returned as ordered, the doctor who saw him gave no significance to the odd spots and attributed all of the patient’s complaints to a viral illness. The member was discovered dead two days later. An autopsy demonstrated that he had been suffering from overwhelming sepsis which should have been treated sooner with immediate medical attention and IV antibiotics. Walkup attorneys retained specialists in emergency room medicine, nursing, infectious disease and economics to demonstrate that the Kaiser personnel who saw the decedent had breached the standard of care and caused economic loss to the surviving children, aged 9 and 8.