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Vaage Law > Practice Areas > Medical Malpractice > Kaiser Medical Malpractice

Kaiser Malpractice Lawyer in San Diego

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San Diego Medical Malpractice Attorney Fighting for Justice

Medical malpractice can happen anywhere, anytime. When we are sick or injured, we don’t expect to suffer further injuries due to the medical care we receive, but the sad truth is, this happens on a daily basis.

In Southern California, the healthcare system known as “Kaiser” is made up of three entities: Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. For its business model, Kaiser uses gatekeepers to control costs. These gatekeepers can be nurse practitioners or primary care physicians, who control referrals for testing, radiology imaging, and specialists. In the outpatient setting, the majority of Vaage Law’s Kaiser medical malpractice cases involve failure to diagnose, failure to order proper tests/scans, or failure to refer to a specialist. In the Kaiser hospital system, medical malpractice generally stems from emergency physician negligence (failure to admit a patient), surgical negligence, hospitalist / attending / ICU physician negligence, and nursing negligence.

Kaiser’s Medical Records

Kaiser healthcare providers rely on electronic medical records (“EMR”) within its HealthConnect system. The problem we see with EMRs is threefold:

First, EMRs were originally designed for billing purposes. That explains why some of the dropdown choices for a specific diagnosis or therapy don’t make a lot of sense. It’s like those t-shirts you get on fan days at baseball games – the same one-size-fits-all shirt is handed out to an 80-lb teenager and a 250-lb adult. You make it work, but it doesn’t really fit. That’s how EMRs work. While information is at a clinician’s fingertips, it’s not always accurately explaining what’s going on with the patient.

Second, as a shortcut, doctors and nurses often cut and paste from past notes. It’s a lot faster than typing up a new note. This creates another problem that I call “anchoring bias.” Once a bad or incorrect diagnosis is entered into the EMR, it’s perpetuated throughout each subsequent record. One doctor may have mistakenly noted that you have a heart condition when you don’t. Now every subsequent doctor you see will think you have a heart condition, which affects their decision-making about your care. This is anchoring bias.

Third, what you receive as a “copy” of your electronic medical record is not the way a healthcare provider sees your record on a computer monitor. All of the text may be there along with lab results, radiology reports, etc., but you’re not seeing the interface as a healthcare provider would when he or she is making a critical decision about your care. How many drop-downs or screens does an emergency department doctor have to click through to obtain your referral information?

Electronic medical records can be a fast and efficient way for a healthcare provider to learn about you. However, it can also be an Achilles’ heel. It’s important that your attorney be very familiar with EMRs, and if it’s a Kaiser negligence case, then familiarity with Kaiser’s EMRs is critical.

Kaiser’s Arbitration System

As part of the enrollment in the Kaiser healthcare system, each patient agrees to arbitrate any medical negligence disputes. Rather than presenting the claim in the courtroom in front of a judge and jury, the parties present their case before either a panel of three arbitrators or one neutral arbitrator. The selection of the neutral arbitrator is a vital step. You need an attorney who knows the rank and strike system, who the best neutral arbitrators are, and how to push your case through the Kaiser arbitration system. Although supposedly neutral, some arbitrators either favor Kaiser or historically tend to award less in damages.

The Kaiser Arbitration System is managed by the Office of the Independent Administrator. One interesting web page at the OIA is the “Disclosure Table About Arbitration Awards Received in Past Five Years – Sortable.” You can see the amount the parties are claiming, the monetary awards or settlement (if any), names of attorneys, and neutral arbitrators. This information is mandated by California Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.96.

Bob Vaage and his associate Beth Teixeira were presented (again) with the Outstanding Trial Advocates Award for 2020 by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD) for successfully arbitrating a Kaiser case. The 2020 President of CASD wrote:

“CASD and its Board of Directors recognize that it takes tremendous courage, fortitude, and hard work to successfully take cases through trial and arbitration. We also believe that your success helps not only your client, but also the entire community. Your award is truly outstanding.”

If you believe you have a Kaiser medical malpractice or wrongful death case, contact Vaage Law at (619) 338-0505 for your free consultation.

To speak to a trusted San Diego medical malpractice lawyer today, call us at the Law Office of Robert Vaage at (619) 338-0505.

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