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Victim of Medical Malpractice at Kaiser?

Choose a Firm That Was Created to Advocate for Victims.

Why Do You Need a San Diego Kaiser Malpractice Lawyer?

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. We are the experienced team you need to seek justice.

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In Southern California, the healthcare management consortium known as Kaiser Permanente uses gatekeepers to control costs. These gatekeepers can be nurse practitioners or primary care physicians, who control referrals for testing, radiology imaging, and specialists.

Kaiser’s cost control measures can lead to misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and other forms of life-threatening medical malpractice. In such cases, it is important for patients or their loved ones to seek the assistance of a Kaiser malpractice lawyer. We at Vaage Law can help individuals and families navigate the complex legal system to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered.

If you have been harmed by suspected medical malpractice while under the care of Kaiser Permanente, it is crucial to consult with a San Diego Kaiser malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Reach out to Vaage Law at (619) 338-0505 — we can investigate your injury and provide the experienced guidance and support needed to navigate this difficult situation to a satisfactory resolution.



Cases 4 Causes Podcast: Listen to Bob Vaage on the Cases 4 Causes Podcast as he talks about Medical Malpractice Arbitration.

Podcast Transcript

Landon Harlan:
So this is an interesting subtopic of medical malpractice, which I feel is a term that gets thrown around the country quite often. And in particular the element of arbitration in California. We have a medical system called Kaiser and while some of those who sign up for Kaiser may not know it, but if they do have an issue of medical malpractice, they go into Kaiser arbitration. I understand you recently had a case known as the Vargas case and that was your client. I was hoping that you could tell us a little bit more about that [because] we understand there was some groundbreaking points.

Bob Vaage:
Sure. I represented Jayden Vargas and his mother, Sonya Vargas. Jayden suffered a pretty severe life-altering brain injury as a result of multiple acts of malpractice by Kaiser caregivers over the course of more than a week. A couple of the interesting things about the case is that Mrs. Vargas, who absolutely just won’t quit, she’s been taking care of her son full-time for nine years, absolutely refused to give up on a potential case against Kaiser and they sought out reviews by more than 15 law firms who specialize in medical malpractice cases to review the case. And all of these firms rejected the case before they came to us. They came to us about five months before Jayden’s statute would run on his eighth birthday with about 65,000 pages worth of medical records that we had to go through and glean out key information. And then we had to have it reviewed by an expert to confirm what our thoughts were about the case.

So it took an exceptional amount of time and effort just to even determine whether or not there was a case before we could undertake it. We then filed the action against Kaiser in the system that we’re gonna discuss, probably took between 35 and 40 depositions of Kaiser doctors, nurses, and other personnel retained 10 expert witnesses. And one of the unique things about the case for the first time in my career, not just with Kaiser but in any medical malpractice case, we had so thoroughly worked up the case and knew it so well that when it came time to take Kaiser’s expert depositions leading up to the arbitration, Kaiser conceded both the issues of negligence or liability and the issue of causation and went to arbitration strictly on the issue of damages. And that was the first time that ever happened in my career. Defendants in medical malpractice cases, sometimes concede liability, sometimes concede causation, but almost never concede, both, particularly in a case like this, where they understood that we were going to put $30 million in economic damages on the board. So that was an unusual aspect of the case. It went to arbitration. The arbitrator awarded about $26 million to Jayden Vargas and the case subsequently resolved.

Can You Sue Kaiser for Malpractice?

You may be able to sue Kaiser or any healthcare provider for malpractice if you believe they’ve provided substandard care that led to harm or injury. However, whether your case will be successful depends on various factors such as the specifics of the care provided, the standard of care in the medical community, the extent of harm caused, and whether there’s evidence of negligence or wrongdoing.

It’s crucial to consult with a qualified attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice cases with Kaiser specifically. We can assess the details of your situation, document proof of claims, and guide your case through the legal process. 

So while you may be able to bring a claim against Kaiser Permanente for medical malpractice, it’s important to note that the process is different from a typical lawsuit. As a member of Kaiser Permanente, you usually cannot sue for medical negligence in a court of law. Instead, you must go through a binding arbitration process described in the next section.

How to Sue Kaiser for Malpractice

If you’re a member of Kaiser Permanente and believe you have a medical malpractice claim, you typically cannot sue directly in court. This is generally due to the binding arbitration agreement that all Kaiser patients sign upon membership. Instead, you must go through Kaiser’s arbitration process. 

Here’s a general outline of the process:

  • Arbitration: This is an alternative to the traditional court-based lawsuit system. The case is tried before a neutral third party (the arbitrator), who decides the case and determines what kind of compensation the plaintiff should receive, if any.
  • Pre-Arbitration Process: Just like with standard personal injury litigation, the arbitration process involves the parties asking for and exchanging information (“discovery”) as well as other pre-trial processes like settlement conferences.
  • Filing a Claim: An injured Kaiser patient must submit a demand for arbitration to the administrator. The demand must provide: (1) a short statement describing the patient’s injury and how Kaiser is responsible, and (2) the amount of money the patient is seeking. Also included should be the patient’s name, address, and telephone number, the attorney’s contact information, and the names of any and all specific individuals the patient believes are responsible for the injury.

The arbitration itself does not involve a judge or jury, just the parties, their representatives, and the neutral arbitrator. It’s recommended to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and the best course of action before and during arbitration.

What Could Kaiser Arbitration Settlements Include?

Kaiser Permanente is known for requiring patients to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of receiving medical care. These agreements prevent patients from filing lawsuits against Kaiser in court, and instead require them to go through an arbitration process to resolve any disputes (see FAQ below on this page for more details regarding the steps of arbitration).

If you are involved in arbitration with Kaiser Permanente due to a medical malpractice claim, you can still recover the same types of damages as other forms of malpractice cases, including:

  • Medical expenses and lost wages: This can include reimbursement for medical bills, hospital stays, and other expenses related to your injury. If your injury has caused you to miss work or lose income, you may be entitled to compensation for these losses.
  • Pain and suffering compensation: You may also be entitled to compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress you have experienced due to your injury. Family members can pursue for loss of companionship after a wrongful death.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, the arbitrator may include punitive damages, which are intended to punish Kaiser agents for their negligence and deter similar behavior in the future.

It is important to note that the specific terms of your settlement will depend on the facts of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the evidence presented during the arbitration process. Proof and calculation of damages is a complex aspect of arbitration in medical malpractice cases. The amount of damages recovered often depends on the skill and experience of the attorney handling the case.

This is why working with a proven Kaiser malpractice lawyer is essential — arbitration often favors the healthcare company, but an experienced lawyer can build a strong and effective case that beats the odds. You deserve to receive fair compensation for the harm you have suffered as well as future losses related to long-term injuries. Thus, it’s important to select an attorney who understands how to best maximize the damages recovered in Kaiser arbitration hearings.

Vaage Law’s Proven Kaiser Case Results

Our case results are evidence of the hard work and determination we apply to every case. Read how we have helped Kaiser patients in the past:

  • $25,638,058.93 — Force Feeds Cause Bowel Perforation: In utero, a child was diagnosed with a congenital twisting of his bowels called atresia. He was force-fed formula by Kaiser medical staff which led to a rupture of his bowels, sepsis, emergency surgery, and a profound brain injury due to lack of oxygen.
  • $5,000,000 — Kaiser Arbitrator Awards Damages to Stroke Patient: Kaiser doctors failed to timely diagnose a developing carotid artery dissection resulting in a massive stroke and complications from disseminated intravascular coagulation leading to bilateral, below-the-knee amputations.
  • $4,950,527 — Kaiser Arbitrator Awards Damages to Brain Injured Teen: Kaiser healthcare providers failed to recognize a dislodged endotracheal tube, leading to an anoxic brain injury in a 17-year-old stabbing victim.
  • $3,469,778 — Kaiser Arbitrator Awards Damages to Partial Paraplegic: Kaiser doctors failed to timely recognize and treat a thoracic disc herniation, leading to partial paraplegia, loss of bowel and bladder function.
  • $1,489,568 — Kaiser Arbitrator Awards Damages for Excessive Traction: Excessive traction by Kaiser orthopedic surgeon during shoulder surgery caused a permanent brachial plexus injury to a woman’s arm and dominant hand.

We know what it takes to ensure Kaiser Permanente agencies and employees are held responsible for harm caused under their supervision.

What Is a Kaiser Arbitration Agreement?

As part of the enrollment in the Kaiser healthcare system, each patient signs an agreement requiring members to forfeit their rights to a jury trial for medical malpractice, and instead, submit to the arbitration process. 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 Kaiser Arbitration System is managed by the Office of the Independent Administrator (OIA). 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.

How Is the Kaiser Arbitration Process Started?

If you believe you or a loved one were injured due to medical malpractice committed by Kaiser, you may initiate an arbitration proceeding. This is done by submitting a “Demand for Arbitration” and a $150 fee to the relevant Kaiser legal department – this depends on the location of the Kaiser operation. In Southern California, the Demand is mailed to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Legal Department, 393 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91188.

The Demand for Arbitration is similar to a Complaint in a conventional lawsuit, as it sets forth the alleged violations and proposes an appropriate legal remedy. There is no specific form or special filing paperwork associated with a Kaiser Demand for Arbitration.

Typically, mailing a letter will suffice so long as it includes vital information such as the nature of the violation and claim being brought, the amount of monetary compensation being demanded, the names of all the Kaiser entities that are believed to be at fault, and contact information of the injured party or your attorney.

How to Sue Kaiser Permanente: What Do Kaiser Arbitration Lawyers Need to Succeed?

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.

In order to succeed in a Kaiser arbitration case, lawyers will need to possess several key qualities and skills, including:

  • In-depth knowledge of medical malpractice law: Kaiser arbitration lawyers must have a strong understanding of medical malpractice laws and regulations, as well as the specific rules and procedures involved in Kaiser arbitration cases.
  • Thorough investigation skills: A successful Kaiser arbitration lawyer must be skilled in investigating and gathering evidence to build a strong case on behalf of their client. This includes obtaining medical records, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with medical experts to develop a compelling case presentation.
  • Strong negotiation skills: Lawyers must have strong negotiation skills to represent their clients effectively during the settlement negotiation process. This includes the ability to advocate for their client’s best interests, work collaboratively with opposing counsel, and arrive at a fair settlement agreement.

In summary, a successful Kaiser arbitration lawyer needs the necessary legal knowledge, investigative and negotiation skills, litigation experience, and communication skills for your particular case. They should also have the proven ability to work well under pressure to effectively represent their clients in these complex matters.

How Does a San Diego Kaiser Malpractice Attorney Benefit Your Case?

As with most medical malpractice claims, the lawyer for the injured party needs to demonstrate that Kaiser was negligent in rendering their treatment. This means proving that:

  1. The patient was owed a professional duty of care;
  2. Kaiser breached this duty of care in some manner;
  3. The breach of duty was the cause of the patient’s injuries; and
  4. The injuries resulted in damages that can be measured and calculated.

Healthcare providers like Kaiser must always provide treatment within the standard of care; this means they must apply the same level of skill and knowledge that a similar provider would reasonably utilize in the same circumstances. If they fail to exercise the appropriate standard of care, and that failure causes measurable injury to the patient, it may be considered medical malpractice.

Proving what the standard of care is and whether it was breached can be a complex matter that requires the explanation of an expert witness. At Vaage Law firm, we have the experience to handle such matters and have access to the top medical experts who can assist during trial.

Our malpractice arbitration attorneys can benefit your case against Kaiser in several ways, including:

  • Investigation and evidence gathering: Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of your case, including gathering medical records, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with medical experts to build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Case preparation: Your attorney can prepare a compelling case presentation for the arbitration panel, including expert witness testimony, exhibits, and other evidence to support your claim.
  • Negotiation skills: Your attorney can negotiate with Kaiser Permanente on your behalf to reach a fair settlement agreement. They have the skills and experience needed to advocate for your best interests and obtain the compensation you deserve.
  • Representation in arbitration: Your attorney can represent you during the arbitration process, presenting your case to the arbitration panel, cross-examining witnesses, and advocating for your best interests.
  • Appellate representation: If the arbitration award is unfavorable, your attorney can represent you during the appeal process and fight for a just resolution of your case.

Our Kaiser malpractice lawyers have a deep understanding of the medical industry, including the laws and regulations that govern healthcare providers. We can investigate cases, gather evidence, and build a strong case against Kaiser, helping our clients to obtain the compensation they deserve.

Contact a Proven Kaiser Medical Malpractice Attorney

Kaiser medical malpractice arbitration proceedings are a highly technical and specific type of legal action. They involve many minute details that are different from a normal civil court trial. The arbitration hearings require the knowledge and expertise of an attorney who has hands-on experience dealing with Kaiser, neutral arbitrators, and the overall process. A Kaiser arbitration lawyer can provide guidance, beginning with the Demand, and following all the way through to completion of the damages award calculations.

In our experience, the Kaiser hospital system’s medical malpractice generally stems from:

  • Emergency physician negligence (failure to admit a patient)
  • Surgical negligence
  • Hospitalist / attending / ICU physician / nursing negligence

At Vaage Law, every single person in the firm works on your case. With almost 150 years of combined legal experience and more than $175 million recovered for our clients for medical malpractice and defective medical product cases, our case results speak for themselves. We are here to help get your life back on track.

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. Contact us at (619) 338-0505 right away for a free, confidential, professional consultation — one call could be the first step to the justice you need.

Proud To Repesent San Diego Residents

If you or a loved one were injured due to negligence at a Kaiser facility, you need an attorney that knows the ins and outs of the Kaiser arbitration process. Contact Vaage Law Firm to schedule a consultation to learn how we can protect your rights.

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Kaiser Medical Malpractice Lawsuit FAQs

What should I know about Kaiser’s electronic medical records (EMRs)?

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

First, EMRs were originally designed for billing purposes and create a one-size-fits-all approach to unique medical classifications. Second, as a shortcut, doctors and nurses often cut and paste from past notes, creating a problem that we call “anchoring bias” — once a bad or incorrect diagnosis is entered into the EMR, it’s “anchored” on each subsequent record, which affects each doctor’s decision-making about your care. Third, what you receive as a “copy” of your electronic medical record is not the same view a healthcare provider sees and interfaces with when he or she is making a critical decision about your care.

It’s important that your attorney be very familiar with EMRs and their dangers when handling a Kaiser negligence case.

How many arbitrators are there in Kaiser medical malpractice arbitration proceedings, and how are they selected?

Generally, for disputes involving $200,0000 or less, the arbitration proceeding is heard by a single arbitrator. For cases involving more than $200,000 the arbitration may be heard by two-party arbitrators and one neutral arbitrator. Claimants who are entitled to select a Party Arbitrator may agree to waive this right by signing a Waiver of Party Arbitration form, which will make the arbitration before a single neutral arbitrator.

The selection of the neutral arbitrator is a vital step. The OIA will send a list of neutral arbitrators to the parties, and if the parties cannot or will not agree on the arbitrator, the parties are permitted to remove four names from a list and rank the remaining arbitrators in order of preference. The OIA will then assign an arbitrator based on those rankings.

We at Vaage Law have found that generally party arbitrators side with their party, leaving the neutral arbitrator to make the final decision. And although supposedly neutral, some arbitrators either favor Kaiser or historically tend to award less in damages. You need an attorney who knows this rank and strike system, who the best neutral arbitrators are, and how to push your case through the Kaiser arbitration system.

Can the results of a Kaiser arbitration proceeding be appealed?

In most cases, a Kaiser arbitration award may not be appealed or overturned. The results of these proceedings are intended to be final, and the awards carry as much authority as a final judgment would in a conventional trial.

However, there are rare circumstances where the results may be contested, such as where the arbitration result was obtained through fraud or corruption. We are aware of one Kaiser arbitration award that was reversed because of undisclosed communications between Kaiser’s counsel and the neutral arbitrator. These situations are rare, and the remedy in such instances is often to hold another arbitration proceeding.

How long do I have to file a Kaiser arbitration claim?

In California, in most cases, you have 1 year to file a medical malpractice claim. If that claim is made against a Kaiser Permanente employee or facility, your malpractice claim will be handled through an arbitration process instead of through traditional legal negotiation or trial. Contact Vaage Law at (619) 338-0505 for a free consultation — we can provide far more specific and actionable information once we evaluate your circumstances.

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




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Medical Malpractice/Negligence

$25,300,000 - Force Feeds Cause Bowel Perforation

In utero, J.V. was diagnosed with a congenital twisting of his bowels called atresia. A few days after birth, he had surgical repair at Kaiser Sunset.