Family Claims Kaiser Let Elderly Man Die
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A grieving family claims an elderly man died after a Kaiser surgeon cut an artery in his stomach and concealed the mistake, in Alameda County Superior Court.
Widow Mary Jean Brine, Margaret Parilo, Roberta Brine, and daughters Elizabeth Tatge and Diane Blume sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Dr. Christopher M. Abbot and several Kaiser subsidiaries, on behalf of Robert Bruce Brine, who was 84 when he died.
The family says Robert was admitted to Kaiser in mid-August 2015 for surgery to treat an aneurysm, or swelling of the blood vessels, in his abdomen. Abbot, the surgeon, told Robert and his family in a preoperative meeting that the surgery was routine and that Robert would likely be sent home in a couple of days.
“During the surgical procedure on Aug.17, 2015, defendants severely lacerated and/or ruptured Robert Brine’s left iliac artery. … Dr. Abbott knowingly concealed this fact and failed to inform plaintiffs of the complications including the iliac rupture. Rather, Dr. Abbot represented to plaintiffs that the procedure ‘went well’ although the blood loss was ‘more than expected,” the complaint states.
Afterward, Robert told his family that the surgery “went to hell” and that he could feel a wound in his abdomen. He also could not bend his legs or sit up on his own and coughed up green bile each time his nasal tubes were taken out. His daughter Elizabeth asked Dr. Abbot if her dad was okay, but he “curtly” told her Robert’s problems stemmed from pain and assured her he would make a full recovery, according to the complaint.
The family says they did not find out the truth until almost three weeks later when they got a copy of the operation report. When they confronted Dr. Abbot, he “appeared dumbfounded and merely replied he ‘must not have known all of the clinical information,” the complaint states.
Worse yet, the family says, Dr. Abbot tried to cover up the ruptured artery by not keeping medical images of the blood vessels and stating in his report that dye had leaked into the membrane lining the abdominal cavity, making it unclear whether anyone who was not in the operating room knew about Robert’s injury.
After the surgery, none of the defendants monitored Robert or responded to his condition. He died slowly over about a month, suffering from an inadequate blood supply to his intestines, sepsis, and multi-organ system failure, and ultimately died Sept. 22, 2015, according to the complaint.
The family claims Kaiser refused to care for Robert during his hospital stay. Despite their pleas, he was given nothing to eat or drink but two popsicles from the day he was admitted to the day he died. As the days passed he became delirious and weak, and had to have part of his colon removed during emergency surgery thirteen days after the initial procedure.
“After this procedure, one of defendant’s staff stated to plaintiff Margaret Parilo that the nursing staff was frustrated and they ‘tried’ to help Robert Brine, but the doctors would not listen. The staff was in tears more than one time and more than once apologized to plaintiffs for what has happened to Robert Brine,” the complaint states.
Throughout his stay Robert demanded to be sent to a different hospital, claiming that Kaiser was “killing” him, but Abbott insisted that he was delirious and ignored his request. Though the hospital they asked to transfer him to was in-network, Kaiser refused to transfer him to avoid paying additional costs for his treatment, according to the complaint.
The family claims Kaiser deliberately deprived Robert of his basic needs despite knowing he could not provide this care for himself, which led to his injuries and death.
They seek general, special, and punitive damages for nine causes of action, including wrongful death, elder neglect, intentional misrepresentation, and fraud.
They are represented by Kathyrn Stebner of San Francisco.