Man's 'Elevated' Leg Blamed on Kaiser
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A brain-damaged accident victim's leg is permanently elevated, leaving him wheelchair-bound, because Kaiser undertreated him, his father claims in Alameda County Superior Court.
William Tyler Lusk, through his guardian ad litem and father, Jeff Lusk, sued Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Permanente Medical Group, Inc. and Rhonda Caldwell-Williams, M.D., for medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, managed care negligence, and abuse of a dependent adult.
In a Jan. 2013 William Lusk was in a car accident resulting in serious brain injuries, according to the 12-page complaint.
These injuries “put him at substantial risk for developing a condition referred to as ‘Heterotopic Ossification,’ in which soft tissues of the body are converted into bone, including at the hip joints,” it states. Physical therapy and medications can limit the debilitating effects of the condition, according to the complaint.
After a month in a non-Kaiser hospital, Lusk was transferred to a Kaiser facility where Dr. Rhonda Caldwell-Williams and other Kaiser staff told Lusk’s family “that there was very little that could be done to help William Tyler Lusk, and that he should simply be provided with minimal nursing care until his eventual death,” the complaint states.
The complaint says Kaiser gave Lusk’s family a book on brain injuries, which mentioned Heterotopic Ossification (HO), “but this risk was not discussed with the family.”
According to the complaint, Lusk had no detectable level of HO when he was transferred to Kaiser from the non-Kaiser hospital, but because Kaiser did not properly evaluate or treat him for it, “his HO advanced to an extreme presentation in which one of his legs contracted at the hip such that his leg was elevated and bent.”
Dr. Caldwell-Williams told Lusk’s family his leg was like that because of muscle contractions, and they did not learn the truth until after he was transferred to non-Kaiser Craig Hospital in Colorado, according to the complaint.
Kaiser also did not want to evaluate Lusk for potential brain injury therapy, the complaint says. “However, William Tyler Lusk was an appropriate candidate for such therapy, and should have been provided with such therapy within the relevant standard of care,” the complaint states. His transfer to Craig Hospital came after pressure from the family to send him there for brain therapy, according to the complaint.
“After receiving treatment at Craig Hospital, and subsequent treatment paid for by the Lusk family out-of-pocket, William Tyler Lusk made notable improvement with respect to his brain injury. He became self-aware and communicative. He continues to show potential for improvement. However, due to the HO, he is wheelchair bound and suffers obvious disfigurement,” the complaint states.
He also got decubitis ulcers (bed sores) at Kaiser, which Kaiser did not take care of, the complaint says.
The Lusks seek costs of suit, attorneys’ fees and prejudgment interest. They are represented by Christopher B. Dolan and Joshua H. Watson of The Dolan Law Firm in San Francisco.