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Family: Man Dead Because Kaiser Repeatedly Put Off Heart Tests

According to Courthouse News Service, more than 100 medical malpractice lawsuits were brought against Kaiser Foundation hospitals in 2013 alone. While neither the foundation nor Kaiser Permanente operates in Missouri or Kansas, this is of major concern because the group is the nation’s largest health care system, operating in nine states and Washington, D.C.

One recent claim involves allegations of major negligence against the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, a Kaiser Foundation hospital and a group of cardiologists in Maryland. The wrongful death lawsuit claims the hospital and cardiologists failed to perform the tests necessary to diagnose a 53-year-old man’s fatal heart attack — and the health plan repeatedly denied his requests for a second opinion.

There was plenty of time to prevent this man’s death. In Dec. 2011, he was brought to a non-Kaiser hospital for symptoms of a heart attack. That facility recommended a CT angiogram, but it was never performed because he had to be transferred to a Kaiser-approved facility.

At the Kaiser facility he was given an exercise stress test, but even his cardiologist admitted it was non-diagnostic, as it hadn’t been performed properly. The cardiologist never recommended a repeat test, a CT angiogram or, indeed, any further diagnostic testing.

He was discharged and scheduled for a follow-up appointment in Jan. 2012. That doctor performed an echocardiogram, but the man was concerned enough to ask his health plan to approve a second opinion.

In February, his brother died from a heart attack. He repeated his request for a second opinion, which was denied. The follow-up cardiologist assured him his heart problem was “electrical” and not the same condition his brother had just died from, but she had no access to the brother’s medical records.

In March, after a third request for a second opinion, the follow-up doctor agreed to order another stress test. The 52-year-old died on April 3, before the second stress test could be performed.

His devastated family believes he could easily have led a healthy, normal and fulfilling life if Kaiser and its doctors hadn’t failed to diagnose the heart attack and, based on the Courthouse News report, they have good reason. Any diagnostic error can result in a life-altering tragedy. If these doctors failed — or were denied authorization — to perform necessary tests in the face of repeated patient requests, this family deserves answers.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Family Blames Kaiser for Dad’s Death,” Barbara Wallace, Jan. 3, 2014