Daughter Could Have Lived, Grieving Parents Claim
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A girl died of a brain tumor when she could have been saved, her grieving parents claim in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Amram Havivy and Maria Elena Ornelas, as parents of their deceased minor daughter, Tiffany Havivy, sued Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Inc., Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Inc., Kaiser Permanente Glendale Medical Offices, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and 16 doctors – Nick Anas, James Cappon, Jason Cook, Jason Knight, Patty Liao, Juliette Hunt, William Loudon, Adam Schwarz, Michael G. Muhonen, Anthony Cherin, Paul Lubinsky, Doris Waldron, Robert M. Cooper, Lisa A. Miller, Jerry C. Cheng and Leslie D. Cahan.
Havivy and Ornelas allege seven causes of action, including medical malpractice, wrongful death, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, intentional concealment and negligent infliction of emotional distress, both as direct victims and as bystanders.
According to the lawsuit, Tiffany began showing symptoms in early 2010. These included “intermittent paralysis, tremors, leg spasms, numbness and impeded speech. Tiffany was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Tiffany’s parents took her to Kaiser more than six times before Kaiser finally got around to actually conducting a scan that located the brain tumor in late 2011,” the complaint states.
After a biopsy of the tumor, Kaiser doctors told Tiffany’s parents that she had “an aggressive, rare form of cancer, known as Glioblastama Multiforme Stage IV. At that time, the tumor was approximately 7 cm in diameter. Upon information and belief, Kaiser informed plaintiffs that Tiffany’s tumor was too large to remove, rendering her untreatable, and her prognosis terminal,” the complaint states.
Kaiser predicted Tiffany had one to three months to live, according to the complaint.
However, despite the terminal prognosis, Kaiser did an MRI on Tiffany within three months, the complaint continues.
“The MRI showed that the tumor had shrunken dramatically and Tiffany was nearly symptom free. Upon information and belief, Kaiser failed to inform or advise plaintiffs about treatment options for Tiffany’s tumor, after it had significantly shrunk in size. Upon information and belief, Kaiser failed to explore, or perform, adequate treatment once Tiffany’s tumor had shrunken,” the complaint states.
Instead, Tiffany was sent home with no further treatment until her symptoms returned, according to the complaint.
At that point, her parents took her back to Kaiser, where a new MRI “revealed that Tiffany’s tumor had not only fully re-grown but had gotten larger than even the 7 cm mass it had been previously. Once again the Kaiser medical professionals informed plaintiffs that the tumor was too large to operate on. Kaiser medical providers stated there was nothing more they could do for Tiffany, and as a result, she was discharged and, again, given a terminal prognosis with only a few months to live,” the complaint states.
In mid-2012, Tiffany’s parents took her to non-party Rady Children’s Hospital for further evaluation, according to the complaint.
There, she had seven surgeries and “it was discovered that Kaiser had previously misdiagnosed Tiffany’s tumor and that she, in fact, had Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (‘ATRT’). Unlike the prior diagnosis of Glioblastama Multiform Stage IV, ATRT is a more common form of childhood tumor,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
ATRT has a higher survival rate than Tiffany’s original diagnosis, according to the complaint.
In late 2012, the complaint continues, Tiffany’s condition deteriorated and her parents rushed her to non-party Saint Joseph Hospital, where she was stabilized and given less than 24 hours to live.
Tiffany outlived the prediction and was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), where her parents say they spent the last months of her life wrangling over her treatment.
According to the complaint, doctors at CHOC pressured Tiffany’s parents to allow them to do a tracheostomy so that she could be discharged and die at home.
CHOC and its staff “were desperate to have Tiffany discharged and threatened to make it so Tiffany’s medical insurance was cancelled, thus making plaintiffs responsible for all of Tiffany’s medical costs, if they would not consent to procedures designed, not to cure or treat Tiffany, but to make her eligible for discharge,” the complaint states.
“In early 2013, while still under the care and treatment of CHOC, Tiffany’s condition vastly improved and Tiffany was alive (not brain dead),” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
In the spring, according to the complaint, CHOC staff “again began pressuring plaintiffs to consent to a tracheostomy for Tiffany.” Tiffany’s parents consented only with CHOC’s agreement that Tiffany could stay at CHOC, according to the complaint.
“After the procedure, however, CHOC and its medical professionals started pressuring the plaintiffs to leave the hospital, despite the agreement and Tiffany’s improving condition,” the complaint continues.
“Soon after the tracheostomy, Tiffany’s condition rapidly deteriorated. In summer of 2013, Tiffany died while still a patient of the CHOC,” the complaint states.
Amram Havivy and Maria Elena Ornelas seek compensatory, special and consequential damages, attorney fees and costs of suit. They are represented by Theodore Slater of Slater Law in Beverly Hills.