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Kaiser Arbitrator Awards Damages to Partial Paraplegic

$3,469,778 – Medical Malpractice/Negligence

Facts

Kaiser doctors failed to timely recognize and treat a thoracic disc herniation, leading to partial paraplegia, loss of bowel and bladder function.

Kaiser Arbitrator, Judge James L. Smith, retired, awarded $3,469,778 in damages to a San Diego resident who was rendered a partial paraplegic as a result of an 11-day delay in obtaining a thoracic MRI. According to the arbitrator’s award, “the inexcusable delay in conducting the thoracic spine MRI that made the correct diagnosis possible was a proximate cause of [the patient’s] current disabilities. Expert opinion to the contrary offered by respondent [Kaiser] was thoroughly impeached and is found to have been not credible.”

This case is a classic example of the failure of the Kaiser system. The patient was seen by Kaiser physicians on February 1st, 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, and 17th with escalating signs and symptoms of a spinal cord compression. On February 19th, the patient had an MRI that revealed a disc compression in the thoracic spine. Emergent decompressive surgery was performed at T9-T10, but unfortunately, the damage was permanent.

Allegations/Contentions

Medical negligence for failure to timely perform a diagnostic thoracic MRI and delay in performing decompressive surgery.

Injuries/Damages

Partial paraplegia, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic back spasms, and chronic hip pain.

Special Notes

Claimant offered to settle the case for $2,500,000. Kaiser rejected the offer.


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