We are proud to announce that Kahn Roven, LLP prevailed in our medical malpractice arbitration against Kaiser, recovering an award of $273,881 plus interest. This case involved a woman who was in the hospital after undergoing surgery. The doctor prescribed that the woman be given a drug called Dilaudid through a pain pump, and she died from an overdose within hours of being administered the drug.
While the nurse was installing the pump, the woman’s family was sitting at the bedside. The nurse told them that the button can be pushed to release pain medications, and that is was safe, because no matter how many times the button was pushed, the machine “locked out” and would not release the drug sooner than every 8 minutes. She did not advise the family, as required by the hospital’s policies, that only the patient may press the button.
The woman was in agonizing pain, unable to get any rest, and she asked her husband to push the button for her, which he did, every 8 minutes, as instructed by the nurse. She fell asleep and her husband continued to press the button every 8 minutes, so his wife would not wake up in pain. Within minutes of her falling asleep, her vital signs began to decrease, but no alarms went off. The husband called for the nurse because he believed the machine was broken. The nurse came and saw the patient yelled “Code blue!” “Code blue!” The patient never regained consciousness and died several weeks later when she was removed from life support.
Kaiser never made a settlement offer. After a very aggressive pretrial litigation and through a 3 day arbitration our client prevailed despite the numerous obstacles placed before him by Kaiser. We obtained the maximum award available under California law for pain and suffering: $250,000 plus burial costs and interest.
But we write this not as much as a boast of our success, but also to highlight the injustice of California law when it comes to valuing the loss of a human life at $250,000. The law placing this cap in medical malpractice cases was passed in 1975, and the number of $250,000 has not changed since then. Everything else went up in price, except the value of human life.
The truth is the only reason the cost of healthcare and healthcare insurance goes up is the insurance companies do not want anything to cut into their billions of dollars in profits. There is appeal to this argument, until it happens to you or a loved one. You cannot imagine the grief you witness when a husband has to testify about that loss of his wife, because of someone’s mistake, knowing that his wife’s life is only valued at $250,000 under California law.
Yes, we won this case, but the one thing that was not accomplished was true justice.