Kaiser Profiling Causes Baby Brain Damage, Mother Says
3-12-2013 20:58:00

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CN) - A Kaiser hospital refused emergency medical care to a pregnant mother based on her financial status, and the baby was born prematurely and with brain damage, the woman claims in a complaint filed in U.S. Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii.

Diandra-Leigh K. Gonsalves was 25 weeks pregnant with a variety of symptoms that brought her to the Kaiser Moanalua emergency department on Oct. 23, 2010. She arrived with pelvic pain, headache, high blood pressure, a pulse of 132 bpm and a 102.8-degree temperature.

Kaiser ER physician Torrey Goodman sent Gonsalves home after a flu test and urinalysis both came back negative, the complaint says.

“The Kaiser medical record does not reveal any blood work, laboratory analysis nor any testing that supported the determination that Diandra’s fever and signs and symptoms were caused by an unspecified viral infection,” the complaint states. “Ms. Gonsalves was discharged and instructed to take Tylenol.”

Gonsalves’ conditioned worsened and by the next day was forced to return to the ER. This time, she arrived with a 103.1-degree temperature. Blood work was then taken, which revealed low red blood cell count, hemoglobin and hematocrit. An electrolyte test revealed she was also low in sodium, potassium and CO2.

“Despite the fact that Ms. Gonsalves was 25 weeks pregnant, had an alarmingly high 38 percent bands, along with presenting fever of 103.1 degrees, a presenting heart rate of 133, and blood pressure of 100/39 mmHg, Diandra and her 25-week-old fetus were again sent home without determination of the cause of these ‘red flag’ signs and symptoms,” the complaint states. “No one at Kaiser determined the cause of Diandra’s emergency medical condition and no one gave Diandra any treatment for her condition despite Diandra’s two emergency visits seeking help.” (Pg. 8, No. 36)

Kaiser medical records indicate Gonsalves was only told to “take Tylenol every six hours for a fever over 100.4 degrees” and to drink ‘lots and lots of fluids,” and was scheduled a regular appointment for Nov. 12.

She did not make it that long, however, returning to the Moanalua ER Nov. 9 where she reported vaginal bleeding and a 101-degree temperature. Kaiser physician Keith Ogasawara performed an ultrasound on the baby, diagnosing it with acute chorioamnionitis, or “inflammation of the fetal membrane to due to bacterial infection.”

The baby was born by cesarean section Nov. 10, weighing only 1.6 pounds, with poor respiration and an inadequate heart rate.

A Kaiser medical report states Gonsalves’ amniotic fluid was green and the placenta had acute chorioamnionitis with chorionic plate vasculitis, according to the complaint.

A blood culture taken from the baby revealed Listeria Monocytogenes, a bacteria passed from animals to humans through food. A culture taken from Gonsalves also tested positive for Listeria.

As a result, the baby, Jayzlyn Gonsalves, suffered permanent and severe brain damage, neurological damage, cardiac damage, respiratory damage and other permanent damage that will require round-the-clock medical attention for the rest of her life, according to the complaint.

Gonsalves is suing for violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or the “Patient Anti-Dumping Law,” that requires emergency medical facilities to provide treatment in emergency situations regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

“Based upon Ms. Gonsalves’ presenting signs and symptoms – and the grossly abnormal results of the diagnostic testing, and her continued fever and condition – it was patently obvious that Ms. Gonsalves was suffering from an ‘emergency medical condition’ when she presented to Kaiser at 25 weeks pregnant, with an elevated temperature, abnormal blood pressure, tachypnic respiration rate, and 38 percent bands,” the complaint states.

The complaint continued, “For years, defendants have been engaged in these financially-motivated maneuvers at the expense of standard of care medical treatment for Kaiser patients. This conduct evidences a willful and/or wanton and/or conscious disregard for the safety and welfare of patients, including plaintiffs.”

Gonsalves also is suing for medical negligence and vicarious liability. She is seeking special, general and punitive damages.

Woodruff K. Soldner, of Leavitt Yamane & Solder, Honolulu, represents plaintiff.