Medical Malpractice – Misread Tests and Radiographic Studies

Medical Malpractice, do I have a case

Medical Malpractice Call

Almost once a week I get a call regarding a potential medical malpractice case involving a misread test or x-ray. A patient can suffer serious personal injury or even death because of misread x-rays or tests. In Pasadena, California the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz are all too familiar with such medical malpractice claims in which patients suffered personal injury or death.

 

Brain Cancer Study

Brain MRI Showing Cancer

I got a call yesterday from a possible client who is a patient at Kaiser Permanente. He believes he may have been a victim of medical negligence because of a misread radiographic study, resulting in at least a three year delay in treatment.

I also got a call from another potential client, yesterday, who believes mammograms may have been misread resulting in three and a half year delay in treatment.

When we have medical testing and in particular x-rays or other radiographic studies as a patient you expect to receive a correct reading of the study or test and a correct diagnosis of any health problems that you may have. Studies and tests are done to evaluate, guide treatment decisions and give you information about your health. As well, provide the opportunity for you to receive care for any problems that may affect your health and well-being.

Medical Malpractice if fine needle aspiration cytology is misread

Misread ultrasound can have devasting consequences.

Unfortunately, things can go wrong and medical malpractice happens. The failure to do proper testing or properly read an X-ray or other radiographic study (medical malpractice) can have devastating consequences. You may lose the opportunity for early intervention. When that opportunity is lost, you may experience a worsening of your medical condition. Sometimes, you may need more complicated, dangerous or expensive treatment as a result. In the most tragic cases, a person may even die from injuries or an illness that otherwise may have been treated or preventable. Severe personal injury or death can happen becasue of medical malpractice.

 

Medical Malpractice Misread Study

MRI Studies life saving if read correctly

Medical testing and x-rays or other radiographic studies are some tools that doctors use to diagnose patients with many different illnesses and injuries. Some examples of testing / procedures patients may undergo are X-rays, MRIs, CT-Scans, PET-Scans, Bone scans, Ultrasounds and Mammograms to name a few.

Some examples of tests or diagnostic work ups include Pap smears, Cancer screenings for cervical cancer, prostate cancer or other common cancers, Biopsies to detect if there is a malignant tumor or cancer cells in the body, Blood pressure tests, Allergy test, Cholesterol tests, Allergy test, Blood tests, Amniocentesis to detect fetal abnormalities, STD testing, including testing for HIV/AIDs, Fertility testing.

These studies and tests are done to figure out what is wrong with you. From broken bones to cancers to other life-threatening illnesses. Prenatal tests can tell you whether your baby is going to be born with a serious or fatal condition. Allergy tests can determine if whether you are allergic to anything that could cause a fatal reaction or whether your cholesterol or high blood pressure are putting you at risk of a heart attack. When a mistake is made on any of these studies or tests, the consequences may be far-reaching. Bad medicine can seriously adversely affect one’s health as a result.

The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has handled many medical malpractice cases involving misread tests and misread X-Rays and other radiographic studies. Some of the cases we have handled resulted in serious injury or death as a result of an internal bleeding or leak going undetected or misread. Because of mammograms being misread, the progression of cancer spreading throughout the body. Worsening of cardiac problems from failure to see the signs of trouble in an artery. Brain damage because of an internal brain bleed being missed. As a result of the improper pap smear cervical cancer went undetected. The examples go on and on.

These and other consequences of medical malpractice can be devastating or fatal. One report found that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes were life threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. Another study estimated that fatal diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units result in 40,500 deaths each year.

Healthcare professionals make many different types of mistakes in reading tests and X-rays. Tests can be lost, patient sample mix ups have known to happen. There also situations where a doctor or other healthcare professional never follows up with a lab to see what became of the results or the results come into the office and no one ever reads the report. These are all examples of medical malpractice.

It is devastating when the healthcare providers who were supposed to protect and treat you make mistakes that cost you your health or the life of a loved one. Negligent healthcare providers must be held accountable.

Getting help from a personal injury lawyer who has a deep background in medical malpractice law is important. I have more than thirty-five years of experience. My office has a superb track record in handling medical malpractice claims. To learn more about how I can assist you with your case, please give me a call. My office serves clients throughout Pasadena, Los Angeles and California. Please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333.

HOSPITAL INFECTIONS – MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE ?

Patient InfectionAlthough the United States is improving on preventing hospital infections and healthcare-associated infections, greater diligence is needed – particularly in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Far too many patients are getting antibiotic resistant infections from health care providers including hospitals, doctors and nurses. As well as HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Vital Signs report urges healthcare workers to use a combination of infection control recommendations to better protect patients from these infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said according to a recent posting that “New data show that far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare settings. . . Doctors and healthcare facilities have the power to protect patients – no one should get sick while trying to get well.”

While hospitalized antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten patients while they are being treated in healthcare facilities for other conditions, often post surgery. These infections can lead to sepsis and/or death.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Pretty But Deadly ! – Hospital Infections

In acute care hospitals, catheter- and surgery-related HAIs can be caused by several antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In long-term acute care hospitals, which treat patients who are generally very sick and stay, on average, more than 25 days the rate of infection is greater.

The six antibiotic-resistant threats examined are:
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum ß-lactamases)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

Hospital Infections – Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

The most common hospital acquired infections according to the C DC are in central line-associated bloodstream infections; surgical site infections; catheter-associated urinary tract infections. A central line is a catheter that doctors place in a large vein in the neck, chest, or groin to give medication. Infections occur when bacteria or viruses enter bloodstream through the central line.

C. difficile

Clostridium Difficile – Hospital Infections

 

 

 

 

 

The most common type of bacteria responsible for infections in hospitals is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile caused almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011 alone.

 

 

 

Congress has recognized the urgent need to combat antibiotic resistance. In fiscal year 2016, Congress appropriated $160 million in new funding for CDC to implement its activities listed in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria. With this funding, CDC will fight the spread of antibiotic resistance by: accelerating outbreak detection and prevention in every state; enhancing tracking of resistance mechanisms and resistant infections; supporting innovative research to address current gaps in knowledge; and improving antibiotic use.

If you or a loved one has injured as a result of medical care you received you may have a claim for medical negligence. You should contact a medical malpractice / personal injury attorney to review your matter.

As an experienced Pasadena medical malpractice / personal injury attorney, I can assist you should you have any questions. Please feel free to call Richard M. Katz, Esq., am right here to address your concerns and offer you assistance. For a complimentary assessment, call me at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/.

Bringing A Medical Malpractice Claim against Kaiser

Medical Malp;ractice X-Ray misread

Medical Malpractice X-Ray Misread

KAISER MALPRACTICE CLAIMS

Thinking about brining a medical malpractice claim against Kaiser? There are several “Kaiser” entities in California. For Southern California these entities include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan or Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and Southern California Permanente Medical Group. In Northern California these entities include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (“Health Plan”), Kaiser Permanente Insurance Corporation (“KPIC”), Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. It is important when filing a claim that you name proper entities. I will refer to these entities in this article collectively as Kaiser.

Medical malpractice claims resulting in injury or death against Kaiser are generally subject to binding arbitration. Adults and children, if they are health plan members, are subject to the contractual terms of the Kaiser arbitration agreement. As well, two California Court of Appeal decisions holds that an unborn child become Kaiser Permanente members, subject to the Kaiser Permanente arbitration contract upon birth. Therefore, birth injuries are subject to the arbitration provisions of the Kaiser contract.

The dangers of the statute of limitations, although Kaiser Permanente generally cannot be sued in the Superior Court the same statute of limitations applies against Kaiser as would apply against any other health care provider in California. The statute of limitations for medical negligence and medical wrongful death claims is contained in California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5. Essentially the statute requires that an aggrieved party (an injured person or a wrongful death claim) take action within one year of discovering a medically caused injury or death. If a claim involves a birth injury to a child then California Code of Civil Procedure §340.4 is applicable which essentially requires that a minor’s claim for personal injuries sustained before or during his or her birth must be commenced within six years after the date of birth.

Under California Code of Civil Procedure §364 before filing a lawsuit or a demand for arbitration one must send a notice of intent to sue (sometimes called “90 day letters.”) Depending upon when the statute of limitations is, a letter sent according to California Code of Civil Procedure §364 can “toll” the statute of limitations. However, there are many technical issues involved regarding letters sent following California Code of Civil Procedure §364 and California Code of Civil Procedure § 364.1. As well, the failure to give the notice does not invalidate a properly filed suit or demand for arbitration. However, it may be grounds for disciplining the attorney as stated in California Code of Civil Procedure §365BEWARE: THIS IS A HIGHLY TECHNICAL LAW IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES IN CALIFORNIA, THE USE OF WHICH MAY ADVERSELY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS

Medical Malpractice - MRI misread

Medical Malpractice – MRI Misread

In California, medical malpractice claims are subject to a cap on general damages of $250,000 this is not just against Kaiser but all health care providers. Keep in mind that the cap on general damages is for pain and suffering and wrongful death claims only. The ability to recover economic damages are unlimited. So economic damages can include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity, loss of ability to provide household services. Economic damages in some cases can be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars depending upon the facts and circumstances involved. Our office has recovered many times, much more than $250,000 for injured claimants or families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.Rules-1-1-15

BEGINNING THE KAISER’S ARBITRATION PROCESS

Kaiser claims are currently overseen and administered by the Office of the Independent Administrator in the Law Offices of Marcella A. Bell. Their contact information is Office of the Independent Administrator, P.O. Box 76587, Los Angeles, CA 90076-0587, phone (213) 637-9847, fax (213) 637-8658 and e-mail is [email protected]

As stated on their website the “There is no required Demand for Arbitration form. If you want, a letter to Kaiser Permanente is sufficient. Please note that it is necessary to have the words “Demand for Arbitration.” Rules 7 and Rule 8 in our Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provide additional information in preparing your Demand.”.

Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provides as follows regarding content: “Rule 7. Contents of the Demand for Arbitration. The Demand for Arbitration shall include the basis of the claim against the Respondent(s); the amount of damages the Claimant(s) seeks in the Arbitration; the name, address and telephone number of the Claimant(s) and their attorney, if any; and the name of all Respondent(s). Claimant(s) shall include all claims against Respondent(s) that are based on the same incident, transaction, or related circumstances in the Demand for Arbitration.”

Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provides with regarding to serving the demand for arbitration as follows “Rule 8. Serving Demand for Arbitration a. In Northern California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (“Health Plan”), Kaiser Permanente Insurance Corporation (“KPIC”), Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. shall be served with a Demand for Arbitration by mailing the Demand for Arbitration addressed to that Respondent(s) in care of:

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
P.O. Box 12916
Oakland, CA 94604

or

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
1950 Franklin Street, 17th Floor
Oakland, CA 94604

Service on that Respondent shall be deemed completed when received [EMPHASIS ADDED] .

b. In Southern California, Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or Southern California Permanente Medical Group, shall be served with a Demand for Arbitration by mailing the Demand for Arbitration to that Respondent(s) in care of:

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
393 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91188

Service on that Respondent shall be deemed completed when received [EMPHASIS ADDED] .
c. All other Respondent(s), including individuals, must be served as required by the California Code of Civil Procedure for a civil action.
d. All Respondent(s) served with a Demand for Arbitration in the manner described above shall be Parties to the Arbitration. The Arbitrator shall have jurisdiction only over Respondent(s) actually served. If Claimant(s) serves any Respondent(s) other than an organization affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, the Claimant(s) shall serve a proof of service of that Respondent(s) on the Independent Administrator.
e. Where an order to arbitrate has been entered, the underlying court complaint constitutes the Demand for Arbitration and the entry of the order constitutes its service.”

AFTER THE DEMAND FOR ARBITRATION IS SERVED

Generally within three days of receiving notice of the Demand for Arbitration, the Office of Independent Administrator will send each party a randomly-generated list of twelve arbitrators from which to choose.

The parties can also agree on a neutral arbitrator from outside the system if the arbitrator is otherwise qualified and follows the system’s rules. The parties then have 20 days to return their arbitrator choices. The administrator then selects an arbitrator to serve on the case, based on the parties’ selections.

The arbitrator is required to hold an arbitration management conference within 60 days of being appointed. At the management conference the arbitrator and the parties set deadlines for remaining events, including the mandatory settlement meeting and the arbitration hearing date.

Finally, if no settlement is reached, the arbitrator will conduct the “arbitration.” Generally claims are resolved or arbitrated within 2 to 3 years, depending upon the complexity of the case.

THE ARBITRATION PROCESS

Medical Malpractice Surgical Errors

Medical Malpractice Surgical Errors Image: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The arbitration process is a legal proceeding. In many ways it is a trial without a jury. The process is very similar to a lawsuit filed in Court. At the arbitration hearing, you and the other side present witnesses, including medical and other experts, and other evidence. Generally civil procedure rules of evidence basically apply in arbitrations.  The Arbitrator(s) hears the evidence and act as the judges. Arbitrators decide cases based on the evidence presented by both sides and the law. The Arbitrator’s decision is final, binding, and can be enforced in court.

A person who represents himself or herself is acting in propria persona or “in pro per.” You are held to the same standards as a lawyer in presenting your case and have the same requirements to provide expert testimony to establish your claim and your claim for damages. The Office of Independent Administrator provides a OIA Handout that explains some of the most commonly asked questions. The handout does not replace the Rules for Kaiser Member Arbitrations Administered by the Office of the Independent Administrator (Rules). Everyone is responsible for following the Rules.

In my opinion it is not a good idea to represent yourself in these types of proceedings. You have the same responsibilities as a lawyer.

It is not possible to explain the arbitration process in this article. There are books written for people who represent themselves in legal proceedings. If you are going to represent yourself I strongly recommend that you educate yourself on the process.

The sad fact is statistics show that individuals who represent themselves in these types of proceedings without the benefit of a malpractice lawyer lose 75% to 85% percent of the time!

FURTHER ASSISTANCE

If you are a Kaiser Permanente patient or member and have suffered a personal injury or the loss of a loved as the result of negligence or carelessness by one of your medical providers, you need the Law offices of Richard M. Katz. We understand the Kaiser Permanente system and we have a history of successfully representing patients and families in arbitration proceedings. Please call me for a complimentary assessment. I can be reached at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my site https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/.

THIS WEB PAGE IS AN INFORMATIONAL STATEMENT OF CALIFORNIA LAW ONLY, AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELF-HELP.

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS, PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS – WHY IT TAKES TIME TO SETTLE THESE CLAIMS

Personal injury claims consist of many different types of claims. Those claims included automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents.

Ford_E-Series_Ambulance

Personal Injury Involving Ambulance Service

Generally, medical malpractice, elder abuse, defective drugs, train crashes and airplane crashes are handled differently then general personal injury claims. Personal injury claims such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims I have found common factors in the claims handling process.

Often clients feel it “takes too long” to get their cases settled and sometimes feel that the “offers are too low.” First you should know that no two claims are the same. Claims like people are individual and unique.

Why it often takes a long time to settle many personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims, is because the claims settlement process requires considerable documentation. An insurance company rarely if ever accepts an attorney’s representations without supporting documentation. Often the smaller the claim, the more difficult it is to settle, particularly when it comes to the “pain and suffering” aspects of the claim. As well, contested liability claims are very difficult to settle the insurance carrier takes the position “our insured did nothing wrong.”

When it comes to claims handling it is constantly entertaining to see how different companies choose individuals to manage its finances: in banks, the lowest paid staff members are usually tellers and count the cash; in a storehouse, the shipping clerk sends out and receives everything owned by the company; and in most accounting departments, a clerk prepares and issue checks giving only the most brief review of the invoice before mailing. Well, the truth is that insurance companies handle personal injury claims including automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims about the same way.

My experience has shown that the individual originally assigned to your case will not likely be the adjuster, who will ultimately be responsible for settling your claim. Often they assign a claim to an adjuster or clerk with little experience. In that last few years I have noticed a change with some personal injury insurance carriers and they assign your claim to a “team.” Unfortunately often the “team” has little experience. In any event, the first step in opening a personal injury claim requires the setting of an initial reserve. This requires assigning a value based upon the apparent seriousness of the loss, such as broken bones versus soft tissue only. Unless injuries are serious and self evident, initial claim evaluations made by the insurance company will be unrealistically low, which can lead to a problem settling your case down the road. We try to give the insurance company as much information known to us at the time of the incident but often the extent of personal injuries and other losses are unknown.

The days when these types of personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims. ln would be initially reviewed by a claims supervisor no longer exists. Years ago it would be usual for a claims supervisor to review a claim and designate an adjuster with the experience and ability to handle the claim to its conclusion efficiently.

TheBus_New_Flyer_D60LF_(080)_on_Kalakaua_Avenue_(Accident)_2011-05-14

Auttomobile Accidents Between Bues and Cars Are Common and Often Cause Personal Injuries to Drivers and Passengers*

Today with computer programs such Colossus and team approaches I have found that are still “levels of claims” adjuster. An assignment of claim should be based upon the complexity of the claim and seriousness of the injuries, however, often they base claim assignment exclusively on the expected value of the claim, i.e., the reserve the insurance company has set on the claim. By way of example, perceived small claims involving $5,000 or less may all be assigned to a very inexperienced claims handler, and we will call him Bill. But claims that say fall into the $5, 000 to $20,000 range may be assigned to a more experience claims adjuster. claims would be designated to James and more senior claims handler Susan would take the $20,000 to $75,000 claims and a supervisor would take all the claims anticipated to exceed $75,000 in settlement value. These “assignments” are done at the time the claim is initially submitted.

So what happens when your more than $20,000 claim gets assigned to “wrong level?”The fact that they have assigned your claim to an adjuster without sufficient authority does not mean that the adjustor is incompetent or that her supervisor does not respect her/his opinions. Therefore, attorneys need to work with the adjuster to enable them to evaluate your claim properly. Frequently cases / claims get reassigned to a different adjuster. The “new” adjuster now has to get up to speed on your claim.

Keep in mind that many adjusters have caseloads of more than a 125 files often higher, much higher. In order to settle a case, the adjuster needs “documentation.” This includes medical documentation for injuries, documentation for medical expenses, documentation for loss of income. Depending upon whom you have seen for medical care obtaining medical reports and medical records can be very difficult to get because the doctor’s office does not cooperate. I have had cases in which we wait months and months to get such documentation. The same is true for loss of income or for self-employed individuals who cannot provide documentation regarding loss of income. The insurance companies will not accept and pay claims that are not properly documented. All of this takes time. Sometimes clients are unhappy with the delays.

My experience has shown in personal injury cases, involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents, it is common for insurance adjusters to begin negotiations by making a very low first offer. Sometimes, the adjuster will deny all liability for the claim. These negotiation tactics often work because some personal injury attorneys out there accept the first or second lowball offer. Because we must tell clients of all offers, an impatient attorney or client to get, some money will take any amount, I think this is a mistake.

I have had personal injury claims in my office for more than a year but over weeks and months the offers increase often dramatically. I recently settled a personal injury automobile accident claim for $27,500.00, and the original offer on the case was $7,000.00. This case took almost 18 months to settle and the client was very anxious to have his case settled. This case has been through three different adjusters. At one point the client was willing to accept a far lower offer to “get it over.” I told him that it was not a good idea and please follow my advice. He did and we settled his case fairly.

However, as a claimant you need to keep in mind that as a lawyer we need to work with the adjusters to settle a claim.  Some of your reading this may believe that “if only my case got in front of jury” they would award me a lot of money. YOU ARE WRONG. On some cases, particularly smaller “fender bender” cases, resorting to litigation / filing a lawsuit is often losing proposition FOR YOU.

The fact is that personal injury claims such as involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents (Tort cases, as they are called) have been on the decline for decades. According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 and are still on the decline. The belief that juries or judges award large amounts is wrong. The fact is that most lawsuits result in comparatively small verdicts.

Lawsuits are very expensive. No law firm can afford to accept weak or frivolous cases. In California I have found that jurors are usually fairly smart, not easily fooled and are not very sympathetic with soft tissue personal injury claims. It takes the average lawyer and law firm between 100-500 hours of time and thousands of dollars in court costs to prepare for a trial. The entire process often takes between 2 and 5 years – even a simple fender-bender case. The expense for even a simple jury trial begins at around $15,000.00. Unless your case is in limited jurisdiction you need live expert testimony concerning medical care, treatment and charges. If you have seen several physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers, most or all need to be called at the time of trial. Expert fees even for treating physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers can run into thousands of dollars.

Current studies show that personal injury claims involving back and neck strains in California have a median verdict of $10,885 ! ! ! So a jury trial can cost more than you are likely to recover. Now some of you may be thinking that does not happen often, YES IT DOES. Here are some examples:

2012 Corbin v. Pascarella $10,400 Verdict. The defendant hits plaintiffs’ vehicle in an intersection. Plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter claimed lower back, necks, and shoulder pain because of the collision. Plaintiff (mother) settles her claim before trial. A Los Angeles County jury awards $10,400 to the daughter

2012 Messina v. Bayne $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when his vehicle is hit from behind. Initially plaintiff only took one day off and returned to his work at a supermarket. Shortly after the incident he sees a chiropractor for four visits. Plaintiff claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale. He changes chiropractors and gets additional treatment and he later takes an additional 11 days off of work. He receives physical therapy for about 8 months from February 2010 to November 2010. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company contests the need for the “second” chiropractor visits and treatments. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company denies that the plaintiff’s claim for lost wages beyond the first day were unreasonable. The jury award likely shows what the jury thought of the claim. .

2013 – Reveles v. O’Neal $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed double yellow line and collided into oncoming car. The plaintiff suffered injuries. Plaintiff had medical bills of about $70,000, but the medical expenses were not allowed to go to the jury because a medical expert was not called. The injuries appeared to be mainly soft tissue. A San Diego County jury awarded $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.

THE TAKE AWAY?

Be patient, and patience is a truly a virtue in settlement negotiations. Although you may “need” the money now, it is rarely to your advantage to “hurry through the process.” Allow your attorney to their job. Most attorney’s will give you good advice on these types of claims.

Believe me, claims adjusters are pretty good at sensing anxiety. If your attorney shows anxiousness, the adjuster will likely change her/his focus away from the settlement, and on the sense of desperation. The adjuster will likely then base further settlement discussions on that sense of anxiety, rather than the facts of the claim.

Does the adjuster have to treat you / your claim fairly? The simple answer is no. Under California law on third party claims, law does not bind the adjuster to treat you fairly. California does not recognize third party bad faith claims.

My advice is simple, stay calm. If you have trust and faith in your attorney allow him or her to do their job. If you do not have confidence in your attorney, well that is another story for another day.

In the event you have suffered or a loved one has suffered a personal injury from any type of incident (automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents) you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Richard M. Katz, Esq.,  is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. We handle personal injury claims we specialize in accident, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

I am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. My office is located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California, 91106

*The Bus New Flyer Accident, public domain, by Daniel Ramirez

 

Do I Have a Medical Negligence / Medical Malpractice Claim?

We rely on our healthcare providers to take care of us and keep us healthy. We and/or our insurance company pay for the services provided by doctors, physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists and other healthcare professionals. Medical professionals are paid for the services they provide and we must rely upon them to care for us. Unfortunately, patients are hurt or killed everyday across the United States because of the negligence of healthcare professionals. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet (breaches) the “standard of care” and a patient suffers harm from the breach. If you believe your doctor may have done something wrong, contact our attorneys as soon as possible to start getting help and make sure you don’t miss any legal deadlines.

Statute of Limitations

As with other kinds of personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases have a deadline, or a statute of limitations. California law provides for claims involving adult patients and minors for claims against non governmental entities or employees the following (this statute does not cover birth injuries) generally applies:

California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5.
In an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence, the time for the commencement of action shall be three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following: (1) upon proof of fraud, (2) intentional concealment, or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person. Actions by a minor shall be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except that actions by a minor under the full age of six years shall be commenced within three years or prior to his eighth birthday whichever provides a longer period. Such time limitation shall be tolled for minors for any period during which parent or guardian and defendant’s insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor for professional negligence.

NOTE: THE LAW VARIES FROM STATE TO STATE AND WHATEVER STATE YOU LIVE IN YOU NEED TO CONSULT AN ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION.

Sometimes the harm caused by negligent medical care may not become apparent for months or years after the medical professional makes an error. Under these circumstances the “delayed discovery rule” may apply to your claim. The California courts have interpreted the “after the date of injury” provision narrowly. It is important that you have your particular claim and situation reviewed by a competent personal injury or medical malpractice attorney.

If a patient / victim does not file a claim a timely claim / lawsuit he or she loses the legal right to pursue compensation for damages.

Discovering a healthcare provider was negligent can happen in different ways and at different times. For instance if you suffered a bad result from treatment, procedure or operation that may place you on notice to investigate your claim (hire a personal injury or medical malpractice attorney) to examine your matter. Or a doctor mistakenly operates on the wrong body part, in that situation a patient and/or her / his family may know almost immediately that an error was made. Other errors may take longer to discover, such as failure to diagnosis and treat a medical condition, e.g., cancer.

We have had cases in which a healthcare provider has negligently left a sponge or instrument inside a patient’s body, but the victim might begin feeling discomfort for days, weeks, months, or even years after the surgery. Initially the patient very likely will self treatment assuming the condition will improve over time. The patient may try over-the-counter analgesics or other forms of treatment but the problems persist or worsen. Finally, the patient undergoes diagnostic imaging tests and learns that a foreign body is inside their body. Under California law the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect means you can pursue your claim even if the surgery were years earlier. Clearly scalpels, retractors and sponges fall into the “foreign body” exception. However, the California courts have interpreted this statute and you need professional advice concerning your particular situation.

No matter how long it takes to recognize a medical error, an injured patient should at least contact a personal injury attorney / medical malpractice attorney to ask about your rights.

What Will an Attorney Do?

During an initial free consultation, our legal professionals will listen to the details of your case and advise you whether or not you have a malpractice case. If you choose us to recover maximum compensation for you, we’ll start by obtaining your medical records. If you need a new doctor to help you repair the damage, let us know. We can do the legwork to find you a trustworthy medical professional in your area.

If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury arising from medical care, please feel free to contact me. Richard M. Katz at The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz, Pasadena, California. 626-796-63333. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and will differ from state to state because of different laws. For specific technical or legal advice on your situation you should, without delay contact an attorney of your choice.

DO I HAVE CASE? WHAT EVERY PATIENT NEEDS TO ABOUT WINNING A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE

I, Richard M. Katz, have been in practice for about thirty-five years and for most of those thirty-five years I have handled medical malpractice claims along with other personal injury claims. Medical malpractice claims present some unique challenges because of complex medical issues. As well, judges and juries tend to favor doctors, nurses and hospitals over injured patients in medical malpractice lawsuits. Under the best of circumstances medical malpractice cases are difficult to win.

An injured patient must prove his or her claim in a medical malpractice action. That is not easy. The news medial will often cover stories about folks whom juries have awarded millions of dollars in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the new media rarely covers stories about all of the injured patients who lost their medical malpractice cases. The sad fact is that more than 80% perhaps as high as 90% of the medical malpractice cases going to trial in California results in the doctors, nurses or hospitals winning. Most of the medical malpractice lawsuits that go to trial results in defense verdicts, i.e., the doctors, nurses and hospitals prevailed / won the trial.

There are many roadblocks to successfully bringing a medical malpractice case. The roadblocks that must be overcome include, proving the healthcare provider’s (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc.) negligence (i.e., showing that the healthcare provider failed to act as a reasonably careful doctor, nurse, hospital, etc. in the same or similar circumstances, convincing the defendant or ultimately a judge or jury that the defendant was negligent, retaining a qualified attorney to represent you

Proving the Healthcare Provider’s (Doctor, Nurse, Hospital, Etc.) Negligence

In order to “prove” negligence in a medical malpractice case an injured patient must show that there was an existence of a duty owed by the health care professional to the patient (for example, a doctor/patient relationship-this is usually not difficult ); The applicable standard of care, and the health care professional’s deviation from that standard, which is a breach of the duty owed the patient (this can be challenging and usually requires expert opinion); A causal connection between the health care professional’s deviation from the standard of care and the patient’s injury (this at times can be quite challenging, depending upon the circumstances).

A patient and their lawyer are often presented with nothing more to base the patient’s claim on then the healthcare provider’s own notes, which often is not only cryptic but self-serving. There is an old saying “if it is not in the chart it did not happen.” This can be both good and bad but either way one is often stuck with whatever the records show. Very few healthcare providers are going to accept responsibility, at least initially, for a mistake they have made. While information on the internet and medical textbooks may list multiple ways for treating a specific injury, illness, or disease an expert is usually necessary to establish negligence, breach and causation.

To prevail a patient and their lawyer must show that the healthcare provider’s (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc. ) conduct fell below an accepted standard of medical care. We generally need expert testimony to establish the standard of care. As well, expert testimony is required to show how the healthcare provided failed to meet the standard of care.

As side from negligent treatment or care, the healthcare provider can be held responsible for the negligent prescription of a medication or medical device if the healthcare provider ignored prescription recommendations such as prescribing an incorrect medication or dosage or a contraindication that resulted in injury to the patient. The healthcare provider has the duty of informing the patient of the risks and side effects of a medication or medical device they prescribe. As well, asking the patient questions to obtain all relevant information before prescribing medication or medical devices.
In many situations a healthcare provider fails to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” before administering a procedure or treatment is a form of medical negligence, and may even give rise to a cause of action. In California the informed consent law is challenging because it applies a “reasonable person” standard. The law essentially requires the following:

“A patient’s consent to a medical procedure must be “informed”. A patient gives an “informed consent” only after the healthcare provider has fully explained the proposed treatment or procedure.

The healthcare provider must explain the likelihood of success and the risks of agreeing to a medical procedure in language that the patient can understand. The healthcare provider must give the patient as much information as [he/she] needs to make an informed decision, including any risk that a reasonable person would consider important in deciding to have the proposed treatment or procedure, and any other information skilled practitioners would disclose to the patient under the same or similar circumstances. The patient must be told about any risk of death or serious injury or significant potential complications that may occur if the procedure is performed. A healthcare provider is not required to explain minor risks that are not likely to occur.”

The problem is if a healthcare provider fails to explain a risk but most folks would go forward with the treatment even if they knew the risk then a patient cannot win on that theory. By way of example a doctor fails to tell a patient that a colonoscopy can cause a puncture to the colon and a puncture occurs and had you known about the risk you would have declined the procedure, you are unlikely to win because most reasonable patients would have the procedure notwithstanding the risk.

The above is only some of the challenges an injured patient and his lawyer face.

A Patient Needs to Convince the Judge or Jury That the Healthcare Provider Was Negligent

Juries in California are tough on medical malpractice claims. Some jurisdictions are worse then others. The fact is that Healthcare providers win more than 80% of the time of the medical malpractice cases that go to trial. Many legal experts and trial lawyers differ on why this is so, but often times when something becomes too confusing the judge or jury defaults to the healthcare provider. The healthcare provider often times will explain “they did the best they could” and / or “there is more than one right way to provide care” and/or “that not all patients have a good outcome” or “there was something unusual about the patient.” I have heard it all and then some. Can you imagine some slams their car into the back your car and claims “they did the best they could.” Or someone runs a red light hits your car and then claims “if you had a different color car, they would have seen it”.

Nevertheless, judges and juries often give the healthcare provider the benefit of the doubt.

Retaining An Attorney

Nevertheless, healthcare providers are, at times, negligent. In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year. A study in a recent issue of the Journal of Patient Safety stated that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.

If the study is correct and there is no reason to believe it is not, that would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.

Therefore if you believe that you were the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a qualified medical malpractice lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights. But understand the challenges that your potential claim faces. Most medical malpractice attorneys offer at least an initial free consultation. Avail yourself of this valuable service. If you or someone you love has been injured because of medical malpractice / medical negligence please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call. Our office is ready to help you. Please call 626-796-6333.

How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case ?

Many who have suffered a personal injury ask the question, How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

As a general rule the laws in all states provides a mechanism for people to obtain monetary compensation if they have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. The negligent act can range from driving car, to unsafe premises, to professional negligence. By way of example, I am talking about car accidents, slip and fall accidents and medical malpractice. If you have been physically hurt or injured as a result of a careless or negligent act, then you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries.

Keep in mind that every personal injury case is different. A valid and compensable claim depends upon the facts in your specific situation. Although personal injury claims have common elements each type of personal injury claim (automobile accidents, trip and fall, medical negligence, etcetera) has specific laws that apply to the type of claim. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, such as me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz to discuss a potential claim you may have. Our telephone number is 626-796-6333 and our website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

Some of the common and main issues in establishing a personal injury claim include:
1. Liability, that is who is at fault?
In any personal injury claim arising from an accident or incident an individual or organization can be held legally responsible for your injuries and damages. If you can prove negligence. Sometimes negligence is referred to as the “failure to act in a reasonably prudent fashion.” Although the language may vary on the type of claim you have, essentially this is what must proven. Whether someone or an entity acted “negligently” is based upon the facts. For instances, in a car accident if speeding or following too close was the cause of the accident, probably negligent. For a trip and fall or slip and fall case a dangerous condition created by the owner of the property or failure to fix a bad staircase, probably negligent. In a medical malpractice claim a physician who fails to act as a reasonably prudent physician in the same or similar circumstances probably negligent. Ultimately the questions posed are the facts sufficient enough to prove that an individual, or organization, was in whole or in part responsible for your personal injuries. Keep in mind that in California and many other states you can pursue your claim even if you were partially at fault for the incident. The laws in many states, including California provide immunity (does not allow a claim to be brought) to certain entities or people. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your specific case.

2. Does it Make Economic Sense to Purse a Claim, That Is What Are the Nature and Extent of Damages?
Even if you feel that someone has acted negligently and caused you harm, the injuries, losses and damages stemming from the negligent act may be minimal. For instance you are in a car accident, hit from behind, it was a light tap, your car suffered no property damage and you were a little sore for a day or two. It is very likely that the costs involved in prosecuting a lawsuit may be more than the monetary damages you could recover.

3. Do I Still Have Time to Bring an Action, That Is What Are Statute of Limitations?
California like every state has a statute of limitations for every potential claim. Generally a lawsuit or claim must filed within the “window of time” allowed for a particular claim. The time limits are different depending on the nature of your case i.e. auto accident injury, medical malpractice, product liability claim. Is a governmental entity involved? It is critical to know the time limitations applicable to your claim because if a timely action is not brought or filed before the applicable statute of limitations has run, it is likely that your claim will be forever barred. Another good reason to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

If you have questions about your personal injury matter, you need to speak to an experienced personal injury / medical malpractice attorney who can help you evaluate your situation and provide you with your legal rights and options. Remember consultations are free so there is no charge to have your case reviewed by me. I, Richard M. Katz, Esq., am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. I look forward to talking to you. Our website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

Medical Malpractice? Corneal Injury?

Each year, Americans make nearly a million doctor visits for eye infections, resulting in $175 million in direct health care costs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated in the first study of its kind.

Keratitis, an infection of the cornea, causes pain and inflammation and can lead to blindness in severe cases. Keratitis occurs when germs invade the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. If a healthcare provider fails to properly evaluate the presentation the results can be devastating to the patient. The infection is most likely to occur when there is injury to the eye. This can be caused by trauma or from contact lenses that are worn too long or are not cared for correctly.

The Center for Disease Control analyzed a national databases of outpatient care centers and emergency rooms to develop the first national estimates of how much keratitis occurs in the United States. The CDC experts found that Americans made an estimated 930,000 visits to doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics and 58,000 emergency room visits annually due to eye infections. The report was published in the November 13, 2014 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

When patients seek care quickly, most complications of keratitis can be easily treated by an eye doctor but failure to properly diagnosis and treat the condition can cause permanent injury. More serious infections can cause pain and lead to vision loss, depending on what germs caused the infection and how long the patient suffers from the problem before receiving appropriate medical attention.

The symptoms of keratitis usually include pain, tearing, redness, and blurring of vision. The pain may be mild to severe, depending on the cause and extent of the inflammation. Sensitivity to light may also be present. To the observer, the eye may appear red and watery; and if the cornea has extensive keratitis, the normally clear cornea may look gray or have white to gray areas.

The diagnosis of keratitis is made by obtaining a complete history and a physical examination of the eye. The history should consist of questions documenting a past medical and ocular history and the symptoms specific to the current visit. The eye examination should consist of checking the patient’s vision. Using a device called a slit lamp will allow a careful inspection of the cornea. A slit lamp provides magnification and illumination of the cornea in detail.

If an infection is suspected, a culture may be taken from the surface of the eye for specific identification of the bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite causing the keratitis.

If you believe you or a loved one has been hurt because of medical negligence, seek legal counsel. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer and/or a medical malpractice attorney. Please feel free to give me a call if you live in California and believe you may have a claim. You may contact me Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. Our website address is www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

Medication Errors: Don’t Let Them Happen to You

Medication errors like happen frequently. According to the well respected 2006 report “Preventing Medication Errors” from the Institute of Medicine, medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans each year and cost $3.5 billion in lost productivity, wages, and additional medical expenses.

We have all seen that almost yearly there is an announcement of some new wonder drug to treat a condition or disease. We have all seen the drug commercial and the all important disclaimer. No drug or medication is without some adverse risk or reaction. The increase in the number of drugs available and in the number of drugs the average person takes has led to an explosion in the number of errors made in prescriptions.

These errors can take all kinds of forms and can occur in many different ways. Sometimes a drug other than the one prescribed is provided, or the correct drug is provided in the wrong dosage. Sometimes a drug is prescribed that interacts negatively with another drug the person is taking and the patient is not warned of the danger. Sometimes the mistake is made by the doctor prescribing the drug, sometimes by the pharmacist filling the prescription, sometimes by the person administering the prescribed drug. Mistakes can occur in hospitals, nursing homes, and the corner drugstore. Regardless of the many different ways that prescription problems can occur, they all share one thing: They can be serious and potentially deadly.

In 2008 it was estimated by researchers that preventable adverse drug events kill 7,000 Americans annually. The researchers also concluded that medication errors that result in harm are the number-one cause of inpatient fatalities. Experts believe at least one medication error occurs per hospital patient every day. However, error rates vary widely among facilities. It has been found that medication errors pose the greatest risks and consequences in critical care settings, the reason for this is that usually patients in such settings are quite ill and do not have the resilience to respond adequately to an adverse event. Further, critical care patients often receive twice as many medications as patients on general floors. It is estimated that some 20% of critical care medication errors are potentially life-threatening, and half of these medical errors necessitate
additional life-sustaining treatments.

A undercover investigation televised by ABC News in 2007 reported on errors committed at pharmacies in the United States. The report, Pharmacy Errors: Unreported Epidemic?, drew attention to a the dangers associated with the proliferation of dispensing errors. The ABC News report showed the devastating consequences that are possible when medication errors are made. The ABC News Reported implied that overworked healthcare providers (pharmacists) are prone to making medical mistakes.

In a poll conducted by the National Patient Safety Foundation, 42% of respondents had been affected by a medical error, either personally or through a friend or relative, and 32% indicated that the error had a permanent negative effect on the patient’s health. See Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem. Fact sheet. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. Publication No. AHRQ 00-P037. www.ahrq.gov/qual/errback.htm.

According to The Quality of Health Care in America Project, established by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), errors committed within the health care system have significant impact on patient safety and health care costs.

Some experts in the health industry consider the primary reason for the rise in medication errors to be financial—the doctors who write the prescriptions, the pharmacists who fill them, and the nurses who often administer them are pressured to serve more patients in less time, increasing profits, but also increasing the risk of an error. Others experts feel that the alarming rise in the marketing of drugs directly to patients is partially responsible. The advertisements are directed to a diverse audience, i.e. patients. It has been found that patients that see or read these advertisements are more likely to go to their doctors and demand a prescription for some drug they read about in a magazine ad or saw on television. Such patient driven requests leads to more prescriptions being written and greater chances for error.

A recent study concluded that out of 3 billion prescriptions filled each year, 51.5 million of them contain some kind of error. Although reliable statistics are hard to come by, these errors lead to thousands of unnecessary hospitalizations and hundreds of unnecessary deaths

Many factors can lead to medication errors. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has identified 10 key elements with the greatest influence on medication use, noting that weaknesses in these can lead to medication errors. They are patient information, drug information, adequate communication, drug packaging, labeling, and nomenclature, medication storage, stock, standardization, and distribution, drug device acquisition, use, and monitoring, environmental factors, staff education and competency, patient education, quality processes and risk management.

Solutions to this medication error problem have been suggested. The first is also the easiest, healthcare providers should slow down and make sure the prescription is correct for the patient. Another is to install more safeguards, such as flagging a patient’s file if they are allergic to a particular medication. Another is for pharmacists to check that the prescription they are filling is appropriate some prescriptions are virtually illegible and the pharmacist is guessing. Another solution is to make sure that different drugs or different dosages don’t look similar, reducing the chance that the wrong medication will be given to or used by a patient.

Cases involving prescription errors and medication errors can involve claims of negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability, these are complex areas of the law. In my practice I have handled claims involving prescription errors and medication errors of all types. Some leading to death and serious injury. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed possibly because of a prescription error and/or medication errors please contact give me a call. Contact Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights. Visit us at our website at https://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

What Everybody Ought To Know About The Kaiser Permanente Arbitration Process for Medical Malpractice Claims

It is no secret that Kaiser Permanente is the largest delivery system of its kind in the United States and has more than nine million members. In California they require all members of the organization to resolve all disputes related to claims for medical malpractice through a binding arbitration system. Members of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) either directly or through their employer sign a binding arbitration agreement.

Many victims feel that somehow the arbitration process compromises their claim or ability to be compensated for their injuries. Clients often come to me and ask me “how do I get out of that arbitration system? ” Based upon my many years of experience and many victories against Kaiser Permanente, I assure them, that arbitrating a medical malpractice case against Kaiser Permanente depending on the circumstances of their claim may be beneficial.

A Brief History of Arbitrations
Our judicial system favors arbitrations. The arbitration statutory procedures are set forth in Code of Civil Procedure §1280, et seq. and the Kaiser Permanente arbitration rules. There are many state and federal court cases upholding the validity of private arbitrations, enforcement of private arbitration agreements, and enforcement of private arbitration awards.

Once arbitrations were problematic for claimants / plaintiffs because the healthcare provider / insurer had the money, manpower and volume of cases to manipulate the arbitration system to their advantage. This was especially true for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group). This really was a problem and the propensity to manipulate the system was discussed in the case of Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951.

In the California Supreme Court in the Engalla case found that Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) was manipulating the arbitration system. The Court found they were manipulating the system. One method they used was delaying the selection of a neutral arbitrator, which made it difficult to get cases resolved timely. There were instances when the claimant died during the pendency of the claim because of delays.

In the face of having their entire arbitration system disbanded Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group) established the Office of the Independent Administrator (OIA). This independent law office acts as a third party overseeing the entire Kaiser Permanente arbitration system. They have established a screening process for arbitrators and require all parties to comply with the arbitration rules. I think the system is fair and equitable. However, for that to be true, you must have an attorney who is experienced with the process Kaiser Permanente arbitration process from selecting an arbitrator to presenting evidence. Frankly, it is my opinion that arbitrating a case correctly is just as demanding as going to trial.

The Skill of Your Attorney is Important
Your attorney must have the background, training and experience to understand and navigate the arbitration process. If he or she does have that experience then good results are probable. In all arbitration processes the “key” is getting a real “neutral” neutral arbitrator. In Kaiser Permanente arbitrations they pay half or all of the neutral arbitrator’s fees. The challenge is that Kaiser Permanente has hundreds of cases where a neutral arbitrator can serve. This raises the specter that a neutral arbitrator may find for Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) to “keep the cases coming.”

My experience with the neutral arbitrators that I have used has not shown that. I have had several cases in which neutrals have award 100s of thousands of dollars to more than 1 million dollars. It is my experience that there is many honest and honorable neutral arbitrators who will not be “unduly” swayed by the money issue. Based upon my experience and network of attorneys I know which neutrals are the truly neutral arbitrators. I generally do not have difficulty getting Kaiser Permanente to agree with the selection of a neutral to hear a case. As well, although both parties are entitled to party arbitrators, over the years I have moved away from using party arbitrators because I think it adds another layer of complexity to the case and places an adverse advocate in the room with the neutral.

If your attorney has the experience, knowledge and ability a claimant can get a reasonable neutral arbitrator and Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) will pay the arbitrator’s entire fees. This will save you thousands of dollars and you will get a timely fair hearing.

Arbitration v. Trial
My experience has caused me to conclude that if a claimant has a strong liability case, the claimant has a higher probability of a successful result in arbitration than before a jury. I believe this to be true because the neutral arbitrators or arbitration panels that I have used are knowledgeable professionals who understand medicine and understand the medical/legal issues and are not easily bamboozled by slick experts. Nor are they intimidated by doctors or lawyers.

With juries you are dealing with twelve lay people (in state court) whom we must educate often in complex areas of medicine. I think if they do not understand the medicine, Plaintiff loses. If they do not understand the complex and confusing jury instructions Plaintiff loses. If they do not like the Plaintiff, you will probably lose.

However, if you win the liability aspect of your medical malpractice case, with a jury, your general damages are limited to $250,000.00. So even if a jury were likely to award a larger damage award then an arbitrator, the law caps the general damages at $250,000.00. I have not personally had a situation in which we prevailed on liability in an arbitration and had the arbitrator give inadequate damages for pain and suffering. Not saying this is always true but that has been my experience.

Concluding Thoughts
There is a myriad of variables that present in all medical malpractice claims, whether against Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) or other healthcare provider. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a medical malpractice victim of Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) it is imperative that you choose a personal injury that has the skill training and experience to litigate in the arbitration venue. An attorney with experience and a good track record will give you the best possible chance of reaching your goal of successfully settling or winning your claim.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence arising from the care and treatment provided to you by Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Northen California Permanente Group) please feel free to give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333. We are found at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA. 91106.
My website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

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