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Kaiser Permanente / mis-diagnosis, malpractice

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My husband, Rick Virgen, had just turned 51 when he was misdiagnosed and died at Kaiser in Fontana, CA. I want to tell his story in the hopes of preventing this from happening to others and to try and get Kaiser to change the way that they treat people. I think that you will be shocked by this story.

We took my husband to Kaiser because he had pain in his side. He was diagnosed and told that he needed to have his gallbladder removed. They tried to operate but he started having other issues and they stopped the operation. We were then told he had heart problems but they didn’t know what or why. The next morning he was dead. On his death certificate they put that it was from a pulmonary embolism and liver failure from an unknown reason.

After the county performed an autopsy we learned he did die from the pulmonary embolism but also a disease called Hemochromatosis (excess iron in the blood). We later learned that the pulmonary embolism had been found by a test 13 hours before death but Kaiser never treated it!

The Hemochromatosis had been diagnosed about 10 years before, but we were never told about it and they never treated it! The treatment is a simple letting of the blood, but they didn’t bother. He didn’t have gallbladder problems or liver failure.

I learned about the Hemochromatosis when I requested a copy of his medical records. Almost every page showed “Abnormal” test results over the last 10 years. “Abnormal” was in big red letters over and over on the pages. Why hadn’t we ever been told? Why did they never treat him? I have no answers to these questions and neither does Kaiser.

My brother-in-law went to his Kaiser doctor after my husband died and asked to be tested for Hemochromatosis. He was told that he did not have the disease. He then changed his insurance. His new doctor tested him and found that he did have it. Kaiser had misdiagnosed him as well.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, I then learned that all Kaiser patients are bound by an arbitration agreement. Even if you didn’t sign one, your employer can sign on your behalf.

Even more insulting is that under California law, the most that you can get for the wrongful death is $250, 000. Yes, that is two hundred and fifty thousand! You will then split that by approximately 40% with an attorney. That is, if you can even find an attorney to take your case. Of course, Kaiser will not want to even pay you the maximum and will try to low ball and haggle over the dollar amount. After all they are in “business” and want to protect their shareholders. I suggest they just focus on practicing good medicine!

We all hear that we need to be proactive with our healthcare. Whatever you are doing, it is not enough. Keeping appointments and asking questions is not enough. Not all doctors let you know when test results are bad. You need to ask for actual test results (get the numbers) and look into it yourself. You also need to request a copy of your medical record and read for yourself what the doctor has written. I was shocked to find information that we were never told about and comments about his personality and looks.

The system is broken. I want Kaiser to change the way they treat patients. Help me to let Kaiser know that what they are doing is not acceptable.
Please help us by doing two things:
1 Forward this on to everyone you know
2 Email me a letter for Kaiser and let them know that you don’t agree with
their business practices. Kaiser customer service does not even have an email
address! I guess they are not that concerned with providing customer service.
I have attached a sample letter if you would like to use it. I will make sure that
all letters get into Kaiser’s hands. Please email me at:
[protected]@gmail.com.

I appreciate any help you can give on this matter.

Tina Virgen and family

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Comments

  • 1p
      May 13, 2014

    I totally understand what you and your family has went through because I dealt with a similar incident with Kaiser Northern Cal.


    In 2011 while I was hospitalized my blood thinner meds were stopped. I'm on blood thinners because I had a heart valve replacement in Apr of 2010. The hospital doc ordered for the warafin to be started again the day before I was discharged. A couple of days later while laying on my couch I get this pain in my left toe and I notice a small black dot on my big toe that wasn't there before. I called the advise nurse and was told to soak my foot and keep it wrapped in warm towels. If it worsen I was told to go to the ER. I wasn't getting any relief by midnight, so my husband got our then 12 year old son out of bed, got me into the car and headed to Kaiser ER, after waiting and being examined I was sent home after being told this was due to being off the warafin for so many days but I should start to feel better in the next couple of days once the medicine gets into my system.


    The pain kept coming and going and this black dot never went away. My husband kept taking back and forth to the ER FOUR times over the next few days. The pain was getting worse. One time during an ER trip I simply asked for some Morphine injection to help with the pain because my percocet was no longer helping and I was denied and sent home.


    The pain to continued to worsen and became a 24 hour thing for me. I literally was screaming, it felt like my toes were on fire! Finally I was referred to a vascular surgeon who ran test. To make this long story short, I was told the worse case scenario was leg amputation. If this was treated earlier it wouldn't have gotten this bad.


    The surgeon referred me to an outside Kaiser facility for hydrobearic treatment which I was to lay in a chamber for 2-1/2 hours everyday to try and save my leg. It was a very slow and painful process. I still had the pain and by this time I was put on methadone as well as percocet. Both narcotics did absolutely nothing.


    Keep in mind I was also doing home hemodialysis treatments in the midst of all this. Because I couldn't walk, my husband and mother, who moved in temporary to help, had to wheel me in my grandmothers wheelchair we borrowed between rooms in our house.


    Finally I woke up one morning in the middle of November and decided I just couldn't take it anymore. I had an appointment with my surgeon that day and when my mom and I arrived I told asked the doc to amputate my leg. I didn't even tell my mom beforehand.


    My surgery took place the day before Thanksgiving and by this time four of my five toes had turned completely black because the tissues were dead.


    In June of 2012 I had the same below the knee amputation on my right leg.


    I call myself blessed because I'm came a long way from that. Tears are welling up in my eyes now as I think about how my legs could've been saved had the ER people took action that first night my husband brought me into the ER. Since then, my husband and I divorced, I lost my house because I couldn't afford it by myself. My husband put me through Hell even before this thing with my legs as he was verbally and physically abusive.


    Now it's 2014. My son, who will be turning 16 in Sept. is a huge help to me. We've been in our new place we absolutely LOVE a little over two years now. I had success with prosthetics legs that no one can tell they're are prosthetics unless I tell them. I'm walking on my own, I'm driving my car with the modifications. I've been doing peritoneal dialysis for about two years which my treatments are about 9 hours and take place at night while I sleep. By morning my treatment is finished and I have full time for my days and not having to go in center 3 times a week. My son will soon be taking driving lessons because we learned he can get his permit early than the legal age because he has a disabled parent.


    Yeah, life is good and we're happy but the thought of Kaiser getting off the hook still bothers me and they need to take responsibility. I have all my documentation, notes, names and dates. I feel that one day I'll get that 'day in court' until then I just hope and pray that my story will be shared with others and prevents them from having to go thorough similar circumstances.

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