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Kaiser Settled Malpractice Suit, but Not Nearly Enough

May 27, 2009 By Jane Mundy

mirrored here for historical purposes from:


Pasadena, CA:
Several years ago Greg M. was told he had a small tumor and was given a few options; he decided upon surgery—a decision he now lives to regret, every day of his life. "I was told by Kaiser that I would be in hospital for 3 days but stayed for 8 days," says Greg. And the hospital's doctors would subject Greg to 4 more surgeries as they tried to correct the initial medical malpractice.

"They left a gaping hole between the urethra and the bladder—it wasn't connected very well," Greg explains. "I experienced a lot of leakage—my urine was not going through the catheter into the bag; instead it was leaking into my body. That happened over many days. By the seventh day of my hospital stay, the doctor moved the catheter to the correct position and it worked; now the urine was coming out properly. But the massive leaking caused irreparable scarring and my urinary system was compromised--I am still dealing with it today.

When I tried to get Kaiser—my health maintenance organization (HMO)--to correct this problem, they told me that they didn’t know what my problem was. My doctor said he didn’t know what was causing the leakage but he would keep trying to fix the problem. I would go into the Kaiser hospital periodically and they would run some tests—they checked my urinal system for blockage and indeed it was blocked. It got so bad that I couldn't pee due to so much scar tissue. Eventually it shut down and I wound up in ER about 3 months later.

Next up, they misdiagnosed my problem—saying I had a bladder infection. But the problem was the scar tissue; I have undergone 4 subsequent surgeries since they first removed the tumor.

Kaiser Mediation

In my attempt to get help, Kaiser denied responsibility. When you are a member of Kaiser you must sign a consent form before their doctors can operate—that applies to all major operations. In a nutshell, the form says if something goes wrong, Kaiser cannot be held responsible or liable.

Secondly, as a Kaiser member, you must agree to mediation rather than a lawsuit. My only recourse was to take them to mediation. The mediator determined that Kaiser was at fault. Malpractice in the state of California pays a maximum of $250,000 and I was awarded this amount plus my wife was awarded $75,000 because of my loss of ability to perform sexually. I was awarded an additional $31,000 for additional medical procedures. My total settlement was $356,271.

I am not happy with this settlement. I am wearing diapers and will likely wear them for the rest of my life. I also have erectile dysfunction, possibly for life. My estimated life span is supposed to be another 20 years (I am 60 this year) so that isn't a fair trade-off: just over $300,000 for the next 20 years with no sex and in diapers. (Another issue was brought up during the deposition: my life span has been shortened and I will probably live to be 70 or so instead of 80.)

Arbitration is final and by doing this, I think Kaiser wants to limit their liability. They have deep pockets so this amount is nothing to them but our lives have been drastically and deeply changed. Before this happened my wife and I enjoyed a healthy sex life, now we look forward to nothing. That is just the way our cards fell."Pasadena, CA: Several years ago Greg M. was told he had a small tumor and was given a few options; he decided upon surgery—a decision he now lives to regret, every day of his life. "I was told by Kaiser that I would be in hospital for 3 days but stayed for 8 days," says Greg. And the hospital's doctors would subject Greg to 4 more surgeries as they tried to correct the initial medical malpractice.

"They left a gaping hole between the urethra and the bladder—it wasn't connected very well," Greg explains. "I experienced a lot of leakage—my urine was not going through the catheter into the bag; instead it was leaking into my body. That happened over many days. By the seventh day of my hospital stay, the doctor moved the catheter to the correct position and it worked; now the urine was coming out properly. But the massive leaking caused irreparable scarring and my urinary system was compromised--I am still dealing with it today.

When I tried to get Kaiser—my health maintenance organization (HMO)--to correct this problem, they told me that they didn’t know what my problem was. My doctor said he didn’t know what was causing the leakage but he would keep trying to fix the problem. I would go into the Kaiser hospital periodically and they would run some tests—they checked my urinal system for blockage and indeed it was blocked. It got so bad that I couldn't pee due to so much scar tissue. Eventually it shut down and I wound up in ER about 3 months later.

Next up, they misdiagnosed my problem—saying I had a bladder infection. But the problem was the scar tissue; I have undergone 4 subsequent surgeries since they first removed the tumor.

Kaiser Mediation

In my attempt to get help, Kaiser denied responsibility. When you are a member of Kaiser you must sign a consent form before their doctors can operate—that applies to all major operations. In a nutshell, the form says if something goes wrong, Kaiser cannot be held responsible or liable.

Secondly, as a Kaiser member, you must agree to mediation rather than a lawsuit. My only recourse was to take them to mediation. The mediator determined that Kaiser was at fault. Malpractice in the state of California pays a maximum of $250,000 and I was awarded this amount plus my wife was awarded $75,000 because of my loss of ability to perform sexually. I was awarded an additional $31,000 for additional medical procedures. My total settlement was $356,271.

I am not happy with this settlement. I am wearing diapers and will likely wear them for the rest of my life. I also have erectile dysfunction, possibly for life. My estimated life span is supposed to be another 20 years (I am 60 this year) so that isn't a fair trade-off: just over $300,000 for the next 20 years with no sex and in diapers. (Another issue was brought up during the deposition: my life span has been shortened and I will probably live to be 70 or so instead of 80.)

Arbitration is final and by doing this, I think Kaiser wants to limit their liability. They have deep pockets so this amount is nothing to them but our lives have been drastically and deeply changed. Before this happened my wife and I enjoyed a healthy sex life, now we look forward to nothing. That is just the way our cards fell."       


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