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Medical Malpractice Including Kaiser Arbitrations

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to use the appropriate skill, knowledge and care in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient’s condition, and this causes the patient to suffer additional injuries and harm. This may occur through misdiagnosis of the patient, prescribing the wrong treatment or medication, erroneously discharging the patient, causing surgical or birth injuries, or through other medical, nursing or technician errors.

Patients have the legal right to receive appropriate medical care and treatment. If this is not met, they have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The remedies available under medical malpractice laws which apply to patients who receive substandard health care are meant to improve patient safety and to compensate patients who have been seriously injured (and to their families in the event of the patient’s death) as a result of medical negligence.

Medical malpractice law is a highly complex and technical field which requires an experienced malpractice lawyer who has a firm understanding of medicine as well as the applicable law. A medical malpractice lawyer must retain knowledgeable expert medical witnesses to assist in the lawsuit and must present the medical and legal issues in a persuasive way so that patient/families receive fair and just compensation. Additionally, these complicated cases are subject to a special set of restrictions (referred to as “MICRA”) which make it that much more important for the medical malpractice attorney to be experienced in this highly specialized area of the law. The “MICRA” laws— harsh as they are — limit the ability of the injured patient/patient’s family to make a full and complete monetary recovery in most medical malpractice cases.

Kaiser Arbitration and Claims

Kaiser patients are sometimes required to use the binding arbitration process that is usually set forth in the terms of their Kaiser membership agreement. This arbitration program is administered statewide by the “OIA” (Office of the Independent Administrator).

When commencing a claim for medical/hospital negligence against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and The Permanente Medical Group, Inc., patients must submit a written Demand for Arbitration to Kaiser, commencing the claim for malpractice. There is frequently no right to have a jury trial; however, the arbitration process is very similar to a court case.An malpractice attorney who is experienced with both medical malpractice and arbitrations can provide the professional experience needed to succeed under the Kaiser Arbitration Rules. Medical malpractice and hospital claims are considered to be highly complex and technical areas of the law, and oftentimes patients who try to proceed without the expertise of a medical malpractice lawyer are unsuccessful. In all malpractice cases, the claimant must show that Kaiser acted wrongfully, and that the patient was injured as a result.

As with other medical negligence cases, the Kaiser arbitration process is governed by state laws including California’s 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (“MICRA”), which limits a patient’s non-economic damages (expenses other than lost earnings and out-of-pocket expenses) against Kaiser to $250,000 in most cases. However, arbitration is generally less costly and more efficient than court trials. An experienced lawyer can help file a proper claim, prove culpability against Kaiser, and obtain compensation for malpractice victims to the full extent allowed under the present restrictive laws.

Medical Malpractice – Catastrophic Injury Case Study( click for details )( click to close )

Richard was a 43 year old truck driver who started to experience low back pain on a Friday; by Sunday the pain was worsening so he went to see a doctor at a local clinic. Medications for pain relief were given and Richard was sent home.

The low back pain continued to worsen and so on Wednesday Richard called an ambulance that took him from his home to a local hospital where he was admitted; the hospital record indicated that his “chief complaint” on admission was “upper back pain.” The hospital chart also documented that Richard was experiencing fever and chills on admission.

An MRI was done the next day (Thursday) and interpreted as being negative. Over the course of the next few days Richard was treated with pain medications and antibiotics.

On Monday, the records show that Richard was unable to move his legs, and unable to urinate. A second MRI was done in order to rule out a possible “epidural abscess” (a collection of pus and infected material around the covering of the spinal cord) and – again – this second MRI was interpreted as being normal/negative for epidural abscess.

The next day a third MRI was taken, this time at an outside facility. It showed an extensive epidural abscess extending from the vertebral levels of T-4 through T-10.

Due to the negligent delay in making the correct diagnosis, Richard suffered irreversible nerve damage to his lower extremities. He is a paraplegic for life. Expert witness testimony from qualified and competent physicians proved that with a prompt and accurate diagnosis, Richard’s infection would have been completely treated using appropriate antibiotics – and he would have regained full use and function of his lower extremities.

Realizing that the testimony of the expert witnesses retained by Tabak Law Firm on Richard’s behalf were devastating to the physicians’ case, a settlement was reached just prior to a formal arbitration hearing. The amount of the settlement was enough to set up a special trust which would pay all of Richard’s needs and expenses as they’re incurred over the course of his lifetime.

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