Kaiser and UC Doctors Blamed for Death
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A 34-year-old man died of coronary artery disease after Kaiser and UCLA doctors under-diagnosed his chest pain, his family claims in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Emanuele Seu’s father Natale Seu, his mother Maria Vittoria Loddo, his sister Efisia Seu and his estate, by and through its administrator Matthew Yu, sued the Regents of the University of California, Laura M. Destro, M.D., Thomas P. Graham, M.D., Jessica E. Ellerman, M.D., Holly R. Middlekauff, M.D., Steven J. Rottman, M.D., Heiki D. Farin, M.D., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Ramez A. Ethnasios, M.D. and Rubens J. Song, M.D.
The family lives in Italy and seeks, among other damages, the cost of transferring Seu’s body to Italy for burial.
According to the 11-page complaint, Seu went to the UCLA emergency room around 1:23 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2012, complaining of chest pain radiating to his arms and neck. Although Seu told medical staff he smoked, and staff noted that Seu’s blood pressure was high and his EKG was abnormal, he was sent home two hours later with instructions to visit his primary care doctor at Kaiser within two days, the complaint states.
Seu did as instructed, telling Kaiser’s Dr. Rubens Song on Dec. 6 that he still had chest pain, the complaint states.
According to the complaint, Dr. Song only ordered generic blood tests. He did not order testing for enzymes, other tests regarding coronary/heart conditions and events, an EKG, x-rays or any other tests that day, and did not prescribe him aspirin or blood pressure medication, according to the complaint.
"Dr. Song misdiagnosed the decedent, attributing his chest pain and angina to ‘anxiety disorder – generalized’ and ‘atypical chest pain,’ and only prescribed him Lorazepam 0.5 MG for ‘anxiety’ [and] Omeprazole for gastroesophageal reflux, and [then] sent decedent home,” the complaint states. (Brackets added.)
On Dec. 10, Seu went back to Kaiser and saw Dr. Ramez Ethanasios, the complaint continues. Seu “was barely able to sleep due to the chest pain and angina, could not lay flat and would spend most of his days sitting at home on a chair or on the couch due to the chest pain,” according to the complaint.
Before sending Seu home that same day, Dr. Ethanasios diagnosed him with “chest pain – atypical” and “left ventricular hypertrophy” but nonetheless told him “that his cardiac work-up was normal,” according to the complaint.
The complaint states that three days later, on Dec. 13, Seu had a friend take him back to the UCLA emergency room where he was seen by Dr. Jessica Ellerman and Dr. Steven Rottman. “Despite the decedent’s continuing chest pain, high blood pressure, angina, previous visit at the UCLA E.R. with abnormal EKG showing ‘abnormal LVCD,’ the decedent’s unstable condition and all the circumstances which would have required proper care, Drs. Ellerman and Rottman did nothing. They did not perform any tests whatsoever, did not perform any x-rays, did not prescribe any medication, and did not keep him under observation,” the complaint states. Noting he had been prescribed Omeprazole for “epigastric” pain, they sent him home with instructions to keep taking it and expect improvement in about two more weeks.
However, on Dec. 16, a friend found Seu dead in his apartment. An autopsy later revealed the cause as coronary artery disease.
Seu’s parents and sister seek general and special damages, costs of storage and transfer of Seu’s body to Italy, burial and funeral costs, prejudgment interest, attorneys’ fees and a jury trial.
They are represented by Nicholas T. Hua and Giacomo Gallai in Beverly Hills.