Man Paralyzed by Kaiser Permanente LAMC
In late February, my father walked into the South Bay Kaiser Permanente emergency room complaining of chest pain. The hospital performed an angiogram (hopefully I have the right word? The procedure to look at his heart via wire camera through the leg?) on him and determined that he needed open heart surgery.
He was then rushed to the larger West Los Angeles Kaiser hospital on Sunset, across from the Scientology building, for a multiple bypass. The procedure was successful. However, when my father woke up, he couldn’t move and he had no feeling below his nipples.
Sometime in the middle of this or directly after the procedure, the surgeon called my sister and apologized. Something had gone wrong, but he wouldn’t say what went wrong, who did the wrong, or why the wrong happened. Dad was paralyzed.
Aside from two short stints in off-facility rehabilitation centers (cut short due to backside infections), my dad has laid in a bed in the Oncology department at the West LA Kaiser since he got out of surgery eight months ago.
The hospital has yet to explain how a man could walk into the ER and then wake up a paraplegic. The medical records? There’s 3,100 pages of mostly duplicative pages. There’s a record of the angiogram procedure, as well as nurse notes, but nothing for the open-heart surgery. One post-op note even says, “Patient DID NOT have a stroke,” — well then, what did happen?
According to the records, a man went to the ER complaining of chest pain, had open heart surgery, and when he awoke, he couldn’t feel or move. Is it wrong of me to wonder whether his records were scrubbed in the two+ months it took the hospital to release the records?
This afternoon (October 28, three weeks after his 57th birthday), dad called me saying that after tonight, Kaiser would charge him $4,100/night for future care. He can’t afford that or private, in-home care. He’s worked for American Honda Motor Corp., in Torrance, CA, since 1986, on Honda’s “Tech Line” in the Engineering Department, so he has good insurance, but sooner or later, the coverage drops. Now is sooner.
Some other things: he was physically dropped on more than one occasion, but that isn’t in the records either; he’s a diabetic and he’s previously had a kidney transplant, so this complicates his care; the hospital is pretending it doesn’t know what happened during/after the surgery and is basically stonewalling me and my sister and my grandparents. Though I am the oldest, my sister retains Executor of his estate and a current POA; as the web-savvy writer, it’s been my job to drum up support and find a lawyer.
Legal representation: the first lawyers were friends of my dad’s friend and they were responsible for finally getting the records; they bowed out because they weren’t medical malpractice specific. I have since contacted four other local firms, most notably Dr. Fagel, a practicing medical doctor and medical malpractice lawyer. His gatekeeper, Christina, said they couldn’t take the case until we found out what happened. I told her that my dad needed a lawyer to find out what happened. Ultimately, they were’t willing to look over the 3,100 pages of records to figure it out. I’ve moved on to others with varying success. Tonight, one of the lawyers I contacted had finally contacted dad. I just got off the phone with him — he’s hoping to hear back tomorrow.
I’m not a TV watcher, but when I was in Iraq in 2005, my second combat deployment there, I watched TV to pass the down time. I’m struck by something “Dr. House” often said — “the patient always lies.” As a former journalist and still current sometimes writer, I’m presenting a case, my dad’s case, so obviously I have a side in the matter. But, I’m presenting an accurate as I know it case.
What’s the buried nut? My old man walks into his ER complaining of chest pain. His hospital performs on him, he wakes up a paraplegic, and for eight months, the hospital stonewalls us as we search for answers.
Let’s not let something worse get tacked onto that nut, and even more worsers, a better (worse for the family) lede.