In a case that illustrates the potential liability of delays in diagnosis, a Los Angeles jury recently awarded a woman $28.2 million in future medical expenses, future loss of earnings, and pain and suffering after a four-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that focused on a delay in diagnosis.
The jury ruled that Kaiser Permanente was liable for mishandling Anna Rahm’s medical treatment, which resulted in the loss of her right leg, half of her pelvis, and parts of her spine. The case was tried by Michael J. Bidart, JD, and Danica Dougherty, JD, of the Claremont office of the law firm Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley.
In August 2008, at age 16, Rahm began experiencing lower back pain. The pain began radiating down her right leg in January 2009. After unsuccessful chiropractic treatments in February 2009, her chiropractor urged her to go to Kaiser Permanente to obtain an MRI, her lawsuit states. Rahm and her mother went to Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills in March 2009 and saw her primary care physician and physical medicine specialist.
Between March and June 2009, the Rahm family repeatedly requested an MRI from their treating physicians at Kaiser Permanente, her lawyers claim. Both doctors refused to order an MRI, failed to document the MRI request in the medical records, and then claimed at trial that Rahm and her mother had never requested the MRI.
After Rahm’s mother became incensed, Kaiser Permanente finally relented and ordered an MRI, which was performed on July 2, 2009. Unfortunately, it revealed that she had an extremely aggressive tumor mass in her pelvis known as osteosarcoma. After months of chemotherapy, Anna underwent surgeries lasting a total of 22 hours during which her right leg, half of her pelvis, and a portion of her spine were removed.