Kaiser Blamed for Kidney Failure and Death
RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Septic infection and kidney failure killed a man after a slow diagnosis, his widow claims in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Widow Barbara Whitaker, as administrator of the Estate of Robert J. Goracke, sued Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Commonwealth Emergency Physicians, P.C., eight doctors and a Kaiser telephone service representative, alleging medical malpractice, wrongful death and willful and wanton misconduct.
Goracke had a colonoscopy on March 16, 2015 at Kaiser, and later that day started having severe joint pain, especially in his legs, according to the complaint. He called the Kaiser call center and talked to a representative who did not transfer him to a medical provider and told him his next appointment option was late in the afternoon on March 18, according to the complaint.
Goracke’s pain was so bad on March 18 that he could not walk and had to be brought into his primary care doctor’s office in a wheelchair, according to the complaint. His doctor did some lab work, prescribed pain medication and sent him home, it says.
“The routine lab work revealed that Goracke was facing renal failure and was suffering from a serious infection. The reports of that lab work were entered into the patient’s medical records at Kaiser, but were either not read, or if read, were not reacted to in a medically appropriate manner,” the complaint states.
The pain medication did not work, so Goracke went to non-Kaiser Inova Loudon Hospital’s emergency room, the complaint continues. Another doctor received lab information about Goracke’s infection and kidney distress, but “failed to react in a medically appropriate way to the information contained in the laboratory reports,” the complaint states.
Because Goracke was a Kaiser patient, he was transferred to Kaiser’s Clinical Diagnostic Unit early the next morning, the complaint states. There, he was seen by four more doctors, then transferred to non-Kaiser Reston Hospital Center where he was seen by two more doctors, it states.
“In the morning of March 20, 2015, some three and one-half days after Goracke first sought medical attention for complaints which arose out of an infectious process, one which could have been and should have been earlier diagnosed if the defendant physicians had performed their professional services within the accepted standard of medical care, Goracke was diagnosed not only with an infectious process, but diagnosed as septic from it, and was finally started on antibiotics,” the complaint states.
“From the time of the correct diagnosis of Goracke’s condition, sepsis, on the morning of March 20, 2015, until the transfer of his care to the University of Virginia and its physicians, the level and manner of his care provided by defendants KFHP, Kaiser Mid-Atlantic and/or MAPMG (hereinafter collectively ‘Kaiser defendants’) appeared to be influenced by several medically inappropriate considerations – the significant cost of his care if there were to be attempts to salvage him from his sepsis, the probable long term care costs if he were so salvaged, and the risk that the unforgivable delay in his diagnosis and the initiation of treatment might be discovered and result in litigation,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
“Goracke’s wife and son were encouraged to ‘let him go’ and institute only palliative care,” it continues.
“Kaiser defendants proposed to unilaterally transfer him to a nursing facility in the District of Columbia where his death would not generate large wrongful death damages when compared to Virginia. Kaiser defendants refused to pay for any nursing or rehabilitation expenses unless he were transferred to a facility of its choosing. These acts combined exhibit a conscious disregard of Goracke’s rights, or reckless indifference to the consequences to Goracke, when Kaiser defendants were aware of their conduct and aware from knowledge of existing circumstances and conditions that their conduct would probably result in injury to another,” it states.
Whitaker seeks $25 million in compensatory and punitive damages, pre-judgment interest and a jury trial. She is represented by Robert T. Hall of Hall & Sethi in Reston, Virginia.