Negligent Care Results

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NEGLIGENT CARE RESULTS IN $2 MILLION DOLLAR ARBITRATION AWARD

In one of the largest arbitration awards ever returned against Kaiser, our firm obtained a binding award in excess of $2,000,000 on behalf of a 52-year-old woman who suffered a respiratory arrest and precipitous drop in her blood pressure two days after undergoing abdominal surgery at Kaiser Walnut Creek. The arrest occurred shortly after an epidural catheter, which had been used for post-operative pain control, was replaced. Paul proved that the procedure resulted in a "high spinal." High spinal anesthesia is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication of epidural anesthesia. Typically, the first signs of a high spinal block are a drop in blood pressure, a slowing of the heart rate, and difficulty in breathing.

In this claim a "code blue" was called after the patient stopped breathing and her blood pressure was not detectable on monitors. At least ten minutes elapsed before resuscitation was begun. There was no crash cart available with code blue/emergency resuscitation medications, or equipment to intubate the patient for emergency ventilation.

Following resuscitation, our client was transferred to the intensive care unit and remained there in a coma for more than three weeks. In the end, she remained as a hospital inpatient for almost three months.

Our Kaiser injury lawyers produced experts that there was a negligent delay in recognizing the high spinal and instituting appropriate resuscitative treatment. Our experts were critical of the delay in administering Epinephrine (a drug used to revive blood pressure) and establishing an airway for ventilation. Kaiser's attorneys produced experts who testified that Epinephrine would not have been effective until after intubation, and that the standard of care did not require that the procedure be performed in the operating room.

Because of residual cognitive and physical limitations as a result of her brain damage, our client requires assistance with activities of daily living and 24 hour per day supervision.

For more than 30 years, Walkup lawyers have represented Kaiser Foundation Health Plan members in Kaiser arbitrations. From obstetrics to neurosurgery, anesthesiology to emergency room care, our medical negligence team knows the Kaiser system as well or better than any other California practitioners. For associate counsel currently handling Kaiser cases who are seeking referral, assistance or advice, please feel free to contact Paul Melodia, Michael Kelly, Richard Schoenberger, Doug Saeltzer, Doris Cheng, Khaldoun Baghdadi or Melinda Derish, all of whom currently have claims pending on behalf of Kaiser members.